Schmotter, James (Jim)


Dr. James (Jim) Schmotter is a former President of Western Connecticut State University. He has spent his career spanning the boundaries of academic disciplines to increase the effectiveness and success of higher education institutions.  After earning a Ph.D. in American History at Northwestern and studying Higher Education Administration at Columbia, he attained a national reputation as an innovator in business education as associate dean and director of international studies at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and as dean at Lehigh University and Western Michigan University.  From 2004 through 2015 he served as President of Western Connecticut State University.

At Cornell, Schmotter directed international partnerships and developed an experiential interdisciplinary program that combined MBA courses, intensive Japanese language study and internships.  He also led admissions, financial aid and career services and served as chairman of the board of the Graduate Management Admission Council.  In this role, he was the author of an influential study, Leadership for a Changing World:  The Future of Graduate Management Education.

At Lehigh, he led a strategic planning process that restructured academic departments, developed a new Master’s in Management of Technology and lowered MBA tuition by 22%, producing a 70% increase in enrollment.  At Western Michigan’s Haworth College of Business, he expanded international partnerships in South and Southeast Asia, including an MBA program in Singapore.

At Western Connecticut, Schmotter oversaw a comprehensive strategic planning process that developed a new institutional vision.  From this strategy, he helped create a new School of Visual and Performing Arts, which has quickly attained national recognition.  This school is housed in a new $97 million facility, a highlight of the $300 million in capital improvements made during his tenure.  He championed partnerships with local high schools to develop a program that significantly reduced the need for freshman remediation.  He also successfully led the campus through crisis:  the nearby 2012 Sandy Hook School shootings, which brought unsought attention and affected faculty, staff and students.

Schmotter has chaired and served on accreditation teams for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and for AACSB:  The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.  He chaired the NCAA Division III Presidents Council and was a member of the NCAA Executive Committee from 2011-2013.  He is a member of the board of directors of Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc. and has consulted for a variety of businesses and non-profit organizations including IBM, TRW, the Graduate Management Admissions Council, and USIA.  In Connecticut, he served on the boards of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, the Savings Bank of Danbury Foundation and two grassroots minority scholarship organizations—the Hord Foundation and the Latino Scholarship Fund.  In Michigan, he chaired the local Junior Achievement chapter and was a founding managing director of a high tech business incubator.  In Pennsylvania, he authored a strategic plan for the economic development of the Lehigh Valley region. The Connecticut State Conference of the American Association of University Professors honored him in 2015 with the Walter E. Brady, Jr. Award for the Advancement of Higher Education in Connecticut.

Schmotter’s many publications and presentations reflect the cross-disciplinary nature of his career and intellectual interests.  These include prize-winning refereed articles on the development of the Congregational Ministry in 18th-century New England, writings on the history and future of American and international business education, and practitioner pieces on developing international partnerships, effective academic leadership, and the role of the arts in economic development.  He earned his B.A. in History at Muskingum College.

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