The population of the Texas town he grew up in was a shade over 11,000 — about a third of the size of the campus that awaited zoology Ph.D. student David Schmidly.
“To me, the UI was the most impressive university I had ever seen. The facilities, the faculty, my fellow Ph.D. students — everything was so special in my mind,” he says. “The faculty I took courses from, and those on my doctoral committee, were outstanding scholars and people. The library facilities were beyond my wildest imagination.”
It was a special time in the life of the future president of three universities.
His daughter was born at Carle. His wife taught elementary school in Urbana.
“We made friends from all places and walks of life. Of course, this was the Vietnam era so there were lots of student protests but in looking back, it was not that bad,” he says.
“My favorite building was the Museum of Natural History. The collections and exhibits were inspirational to me. My major professor was the director of the museum so I had access to the entire building. I had an office there and could go out on the balcony and look up and down Green Street and see the campus and Campustown.
“I received my degree in 1971 and I always felt that graduating from the University of Illinois, the oldest and strongest land-grant university in the country, positioned me to get a great job at Texas A&M University and set me up for a great career.”