On Thursday, Sept. 6, starting at 4:30 p.m., MVCC will ceremonially celebrate the achievements of its longest-serving President, Dr. Michael I. Schafer, by dedicating the Utica Campus Theater as the newly named “Dr. Michael I. Schafer Theater.”
President Emeritus Schafer will be on hand and will speak, along with President Dr. Randall J. VanWagoner, Board of Trustees Chair Elaine Falvo, and County Executive Anthony Picente Jr., among others. In renaming the Theater after Dr. Schafer, the MVCC Board of Trustees is recognizing how his vision led to the creation of one of the community’s signature performance and gathering spaces; as well as the significant impacts Dr. Schafer had on tens of thousands of MVCC students, the College, and the community during his tenure.
The afternoon reception will be followed immediately by the formal dedication ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m. Events will take place in the Information Technology Building’s lobby and the theater itself on the Utica Campus. The reception and dedication are free and open to the College community, the public, and the media. Refreshments will be available.
Dr. Schafer served as MVCC’s president from 1983-2007, when he retired and was granted Emeritus status by the Board. His length of service remains one of the longest in the history of SUNY community colleges, and his tenure at the college was marked by significant transformations in MVCC’s campuses, academic offerings, and community partnerships.
In 2001, the College completed a $21 million renovation of the Utica Campus, including the construction of the Information Technology Building in which the Schafer Theater is housed — and the installation of a Steinway 150th Anniversary grand piano that has become one of the Theater’s signature sounds. Other major improvements during Dr. Schafer’s presidency included the opening of the Plumley Complex on the Rome Campus, construction of the Science and Technology Building, construction of a new 155-bed residence hall on the Utica Campus, and reviews of intercollegiate athletic facilities and Rome Campus facilities that have continued to influence the College’s Master Plan and physical plant.
Overall MVCC’s building square footage grew from 370,000 to 610,000.
Under Dr. Schafer, nearly 20 new academic programs were introduced and the College made significant forays into connecting with other local testing, training, and education partners including the Mohawk Valley Police Academy. Significant partnerships were undertaken with the Utica City School District and the Rome City School District, and MVCC participated in the formation of the Mohawk Valley College Consortium. Assets of the MVCC Foundation grew from approximately $87,000 to more than $2 million.
His record of community and higher-education service included membership on the boards of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield of Central New York, the Utica Symphony, United Way, Mohawk Valley EDGE, School and Business Alliance, Rotary, Chambers of Commerce, and the Business Council of New York. St. Elizabeth Hospital named him “Humanitarian of the Year” in 1996.He co-chaired the legislative relations committee of the Association of Presidents of Public Community Colleges in New York State, and presided over the Post-Secondary International Network.
Dr. Schafer came to MVCC from St. Louis Community College, where he served as dean of instruction from 1980 to 1983. He also served as dean for instruction at Muskegon Community College in Michigan from 1971 to 1977, and again from 1978 to 1980. During 1977-1978, he was on leave from Muskegon Community College to serve as a U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare Fellow in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Schafer also held teaching and administrative positions with the Florida Community Junior College/Inter-Institutional Research Council, the University of Florida, Santa Fe Junior College, and Osceola High School. He holds three degrees from the University of Florida, a B.S., an M.Ed., and an Ed.D. in administration of higher education.