Schleiger, former Chesapeake College president, dies
WYE MILLS — Robert Carlton Schleiger, former Chesapeake College president and long-time resident of the Centreville, died peacefully on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, at his residence at Brookdale Assisted Living in Manassas, Va. He was 90.
After his passing, Chesapeake College released a statement, praising his leadership for the college’s growth during his term. Schleiger was inaugurated as Chesapeake College’s second president in 1976.
As enrollment at Chesapeake continued to climb and campus buildings were fully used, the college offered credit and non-credit courses at locations throughout the four support counties and in Dorchester County.
The vote by Dorchester County in June 1979 to join Chesapeake College as a full-support county was a direct outgrowth of the first full-time satellite center in Cambridge, which opened in August 1978.
An Early Childhood Development Center was constructed in 1989 to serve the parents of preschoolers who are students at the College, faculty and staff members, and the community. The center also provides classroom experience for students pursuing a career in early childhood education.
“Dr. Schleiger led the college through a period of extraordinary growth and community expansion. Even now, 25 years after his retirement, Chesapeake is still benefitting from Dr. Schleiger’s vision,” said Chesapeake College President Barbara A. Viniar.
Born in June, 1926 in Omaha, Nebraska, Schleiger attended Omaha North High School at the start of World War II. A tall, strong and gifted athlete, he lettered in four sports all three years, and turned down an offer to play professional baseball upon graduation.
He then received an appointment to West Point where he had the privilege of playing on the legendary 1945 National Champion Army football team with Doc Blanchard, Glen Davis, Barney Poole and other notables, and maintained friendships with team members throughout his life.
As the war ended, Schleiger transferred to and eventually graduated from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in business, lettering in football and baseball.
He then began work as a high school teacher and coach, which eventually led to work in advertising and public relations. Around the same time, he met the love of his life, Jo Anne Strobel. They married in 1953.
As Schleiger’s career in business advanced, his interest in the emerging field of continuing education led him to pursue a doctorate in Education.
While writing his dissertation, he helped develop and run a Boot Strap program for Strategic Air Command officers stationed at nearby Offutt Air Force Base. This degree program, formed in partnership with the University of Oklahoma, made it possible for SAC officers to take graduate-level courses while stationed at SAC bases throughout the world. More than 5,000 students enrolled in the program during its first two years. He then worked to establish a state-wide community college system in the state of Nebraska.
In 1976, he left Nebraska to accept an offer to serve as president of Chesapeake College in Wye Mills. Here, he worked to launch scores of new professional and enrichment programs, and became heavily involved in economic development for the region. He was instrumental in establishing the Queen Anne’s County Economic Development Commission and was its chairman for many years. He also helped create Chesapeake Country, a regional marketing consortium, and served on its board of directors from 1982 to 1995. And he became an active member of Rotary International.
For more than 25 years, he applied his vitality and amiable leadership skills to benefit his community, traveling the world as a spirited emissary for the state of Maryland and the Eastern Shore, and working tirelessly to build a better Maryland through education, service, and opportunity.
In 1991, he was presented with the Pate Award, Maryland’s highest award for economic development, and in 1996 was honored by the Southern Economic Development Council for his volunteer service and dedication to his community.
He was a humble man and led a prayerful, independent life vigorously pursuing work he enjoyed and deemed worthwhile and valuable to the community. During the last few years of his life, when he was in need of healthcare assistance in his home, most of his capable nurses and caregivers were graduates of the very same Chesapeake College healthcare and nursing programs he helped create.
Schleiger was extremely proud of each and every one of his helpers, and they tenderly cared for him with a deep sense of honor and appreciation.
His daughter, Anne Schleiger Hall (Jason) of Centrev- ille, described her father as always putting family first and supportive of his family’s interests and concerns.
“He was always ver y patient and kind. A great problem solver and educator. Always an educator. When my sister or I faced with a problem, he would encourage us to think it out — to examine all the options, and take informed actions,” Hall said. “At the same time, dad was pure action — quick to jump in, get involved and make a difference. He was very project-oriented and thrived on action.”
He is survived by his devoted wife of 64 years, Jo Anne Strobel Schleiger of Manassas, Va.; his two daughters Anne Schleiger Hall (Jason) of Centreville, Va. and Karin Schleiger Tadlock (Timothy) of Jacksonville, Fla.; and four grandchildren: Elena Hall Coyne (William), Gordon Hall, Lauren Dickson and Kristopher Dickson.
In lieu of flowers, consider making a donation to the Chesapeake College Foundation, P.O. Box 8, Wye Mills, MD 21679 and reference “In Memory of Robert C. Schleiger” on your check. Donations can also be made online through the Chesapeake College Foundation website.
ROBERT C. SCHLEIGER