John J. Schumacher was born in Missouri in 1885, and moved to California at the age of 8. He graduated from Southern California Business College and then began his career in higher education, first helping organize and directing Angelus University in Arizona and California, and then as a recruitment officer for the Lincoln-Jefferson Correspondence School in Los Angeles.
In 1911, at the age of 25, he gathered a group of correspondent students at the Union Oil Building at 7th and Spring Streets in downtown Los Angeles to meet with a tutor to supplement their coursework.
On November 25, 1911, he established southwestern College of Law as a nonsectarian, nonprofit educational institution. Later, under his direction, on May 10, 1913, Southwestern received its university charter creating Southwestern University, which included the School of Law and the School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance.
Dr. Schumacher served as Secretary and Treasurer of Southwestern until he was named President in 1923. He met his wife Miriam when she was heading up the secretarial program. (She also served as President of Southwestern from 1944 to 1967.) During his tenure, he saw the school expand with the schools of Secretarial Studies, Engineering and Architecture, and Pre-legal Training; a Long Beach campus; and the construction of the Hill Street Building, Southwestern's home for nearly 50 years.
The university flourished with an enrollment of over 1,000 students, extensive student activities, including football and debate teams, and successful graduates, including members of the California Supreme Court.
Dr. Schumacher received an honorary doctorate from Loyola College of Los Angeles in 1926. His dream was to provide an education particularly for those who had to work and who had few educational opportunities. Following his inspiration, Southwestern has always maintained an open door policy to qualified students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin.
"Dr. John Schumacher's" (imagined) remarks at Southwestern's Centennial Town Fair and
Founders Day Celebration, August 25, 2011:
Well, I just had to come back to see this - to see what has become of our humble little Southwestern College of Law. 100 years... my, my, my... You can't begin to imagine what it feels like to stand here and see that your wildest dreams have come true!
I am bursting with pride to know that our little collective of determined students and faculty that assembled a century ago to study law has become this magnificent institution - now known throughout the country and beyond. And that our original principle ideals - opportunity, diversity, public service, innovation, professionalism, practical training - are still the ideals you strive for today.
Look around - what a handsome and bright group you are - even if you don't wear much in the way of clothing these days! And what a wonderful and exciting campus!
I must say, though, that I am a bit intrigued by these little contraptions I see you all carrying around and staring into - some the size of books, some no bigger than your hand - what are those things??
Anyway, it takes my breath away to see how our dream has flourished. I hope you can appreciate the extraordinary heritage you come from - all these generations of successful Southwestern graduates making a difference in the world - and that you can share my pride in what this law school has become, and revel in being a part of it.
I exhort you all to take your Southwestern education and go out and do good things - and take an active role in ensuring that Southwestern continues to flourish for many generations so I can come back in another 100 years to visit and beam with pride.
Dean Garth, you are doing a terrific job here - keep it up!