Notable MSU Leaders Establish Professorship Rooted in International Research, Teaching

June 4, 2019
Jack and Sharon Schwille pose with Savana Bak (middle) at the Supporting Spartan Scholars event, Kellogg Center, MSU campus

Combined, the Schwilles have dedicated 70 years of their careers to the Michigan State University College of Education. They have been leaders, creators and visionaries. 

They’re also philanthropists. 

So when the Empower Extraordinary campaign began, the Schwilles knew exactly what to do: Give back. 

The latest contribution—the Anderson-Schwille Endowed Professorship in Teacher Education & International Development, a planned gift of $1 million—will highlight the work of a future faculty member whose research gives attention to learning about and from teacher education, especially in other countries. (For more on professorships, see below.)

John “Jack” and Sharon Schwille began contributing to the university in the 1990s, and in 2001, established a scholarship for graduate students in the College of Education. Every year, the Anderson-Schwille Endowed Fellowship in International Education helps students with strong international interests to come to and study at MSU. 

“We try to do things that are going to support both of our different areas of work in the college,” said Sharon. 


Sharon spent her career immersed in teacher education. She graduated in 1998 with her doctorate in Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy and was an instrumental figure in the Department of Teacher Education; she served as coordinator of the renowned Teacher Preparation Program from 1998 until her retirement in 2011. 

Her goal is to help ensure the quality and structure of MSU’s programs are shared with others. With the professorship, ideally given to a prospective faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education, she knows MSU’s expertise will continue to be shared all around the world. 

“I would hope other teacher preparation programs would look closely at what MSU is doing,” she said. “I believe strongly in our program. The fifth-year internship makes a big difference. It pays off with how well-prepared the educators are.” 

That includes educators and scholars, like the ideal candidate for the professorship, who will specialize in international contexts. 

“I saw the professorship as a way to help ensure the international work I was committed to would continue,” said Jack, who first came to the university in 1977 and retired in 2013. “Endowed professorships are the ultimate in what universities need to be high-quality institutions.” 

Jack specializes in international studies in teacher education. He’s the author of “Internationalizing a School of Education: Integration and Infusion in Practice” (Michigan State University Press, 2017). The book spells out strategies MSU took when stepping away from the more “traditional” approach of having a largely separate comparative education program. When Jack helped create and then assumed leadership of the Office of International Studies in Education (OISE), he and colleagues were not only challenging the ethnocentric orthodoxy of education study in the U.S., but also helping international perspectives to influence education research, policy and practice as widely as possible. The book includes profiles of leaders in this effort, including Lynn Paine, current director of OISE, and University Distinguished Professor William Schmidt

“I’m optimistic about the future of international education at MSU, as long as support for further improvement and forward thinking continues to be supported in a variety of says,” Jack said. 

His dream? International education permeating MSU, with all faculty and students engaged in international collaboration. 

Their professorship is just another step toward accomplishing that goal, and everything else the Schwilles have set out to do in their careers, and beyond. 

“The work we have done has built on other work, and has been in coordination with extraordinary people who are dedicated to their craft and career,” Sharon added. “Through our contributions, we’re trying to make the College of Education an even more outstanding place.” 


Jack is working on his next book, which will bring the College of Education back to life from the 1970-90s when MSU became famous as a national center of revolutionary change in K-12 teaching and teacher education. This included the creation of Professional Development Schools where faculty and doctoral students spent time working with K-12 teachers on pioneering approaches to teaching, learning and teacher education. In examining the implications for the future, the book will explain what was revolutionary in what was done, and what did and did not work before, he says, much of the revolution was lost in the return of orthodoxy. 


Sharon Schwille published this book about an “amazing true story” from Information Age Publishing in 2016. It’s a case study of a teacher who struggled for years to overcome major obstacles and difficulties to transform teaching and learning in her classroom before she was able to succeed in student-centered instruction, helping students take more responsibility for their learning. 


Six endowed faculty positions were created in the College of Education during the Empower Extraordinary campaign. These count among the total 112 new positions established across MSU, surpassing the university’s goal to create 100. The faculty who hold named professorships are leaders in their fields; resources like these gifts are key to helping fund their research and collaborations. 

The Oberg Blight and Schwille professorships will strengthen two top priority areas for the Department of Teacher Education— education for diverse language learners and teacher education around the world, said retiring Chairperson Margaret Crocco

“The Oberg Blight professorship will address the needs of English language learners, who are one of the fastest growing groups of students in Michigan’s and the nation’s schools,” Crocco said. “The Schwille professorship will sustain the college’s historic legacy as a leader in teacher education internationally. In both cases, our faculty expertise in this area will be made even stronger and more visible with the addition of these positions.”