1965 “Nigerian Experience” Led them to Africa University A Half Century Later.
Robert and Virginia Schneider were both born and reared in America’s Heartland, Kansas. They met at Kansas State University (KSU) in the fall of 1952 when Virginia was a freshman and Robert a junior, and they married two years later.
For the first eleven years of their marriage, Robert taught high school courses while Virginia worked at a local bank and cared for the couple’s two children. Then, in 1965, Robert accepted a position with KSU that changed the course of his and his family’s lives.
KSU, working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), agreed to provide staff to develop the College of Agriculture at the recently established Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria. Robert uprooted his family and traveled to Nigeria to accept a teaching position in the Department of Agricultural Engineering. At the end of his 2-year term of service, Robert and his family returned to the United States. He and Virginia enrolled at Michigan State University, he to begin his doctoral program and she to complete her B. A. degree. After they completed their degree programs in 1969, Robert and Virginia returned to Zaria in 1970 with their children to continue the work at Ahmadu Bello University. On this second tour of two and a half years, Virginia taught in the University Staff School.
During their years of service in Zaria, the Schneider family traveled extensively during their periods of rest and relaxation, visiting the Middle East and many of the Western European countries. They can attest that travel broadens the mind and agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson that “the mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” To date, Robert and Virginia have visited all of the continents but Antarctica and all 50 US states.
In 1995, Robert and Virginia retired---he from Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green) and she from the Bowling Green Public School System. They re-located to Fairfield Glade, TN and moved into a house designed by Virginia. They are members of Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church, and it was here that they first learned of Africa University. Remembering that without their education, they never would have had their “Nigerian Experience,” which exposed them to whole new worlds, Robert and Virginia made the decision to endow a scholarship at Africa University. The Schneider-Fix Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide the young men and women of Africa with a first-rate education. “Education can provide the keys to many different doors of opportunity,” Robert and Virginia said. “We want our scholarship recipients to walk through those doors to discover new worlds as we did.”
Elaine Jenkins, Director of Planned Giving, AUDO
A World Service Special Gift is a designated financial contribution made by an individual, local church, organization, district or annual conference to a project authorized as such by the Connectional Table. Current World Service Special Gifts projects include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Leonard Perryman Communications Scholarship for Ethnic Minority Students, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.