Alumnus donation sparks creation of new position

An alumnus and supporter of the Neeley School of Business who was involved in a plane crash on Oct. 6 has pledged $500,000 to the school, making possible the creation of a new position.

The pledge, donated by Robert Schumacher and his wife, Edith, in April, is being used to create a new faculty position in innovation and entrepreneurship, said David Dibble, director of development for the Neeley School of Business.

Robert Schumacher was able to leave the hospital Nov. 27 and is continuing rehabilitation at home, his daughter Kathy Kyle said.

Ray Smilor, who Dibble said is a highly regarded academic, is the recipient of the fellowship. He will start teaching in January.

Smilor is coming to the university from the University of California, San Diego, where he helped create its business school, Dibble said.

“He’s been influential in transforming institutions and taking them to the next level,” he said. “That’s why he’s here, to help us do that and help us think about new ways of connecting our students with opportunities in the community.”

Dibble listed many ways Smilor will benefit the program.

“He can help us think bigger is one of his primary roles here,” Dibble said. “He will be teaching class. He’s doing all of the things that faculty do, but he also brings a broad vision to the program, which I think will be valuable.”

Smilor said he is excited to contribute to what he called a very dynamic entrepreneurship and innovation program.

“I think (the Neeley School of Business) has clearly one of the most dynamic curriculums that I’ve seen anywhere,” Smilor said.

Schumacher was on his way home to Fort Worth when his private plane crashed, Kyle told the Skiff in October.

Both engines of the plane failed during the descent, she said. The pilot made it to a field before the plane hit the ground, bounced, broke the left wing and damaged the plane’s nose.

Schumacher suffered a pelvic bone fracture, two fractured ribs and a crushed cheekbone, Kyle said.