Western Courier

Paul Schlag

Robby Barlow

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 Recently named the Office of President Chief of Staff, Paul Schlag’s has had quite a journey to his new position at Western Illinois University.

 Born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he was involved in Boy Scouts of America as a youth, eventually earning the rank of Eagle Scout.

 This spurred a lifelong appreciation and interest in recreation. After spending a year at Brigham Young University, he spent two years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
in Rostov-na-Donu, Russia.

 Not only did he become fluent in Russian, but he also learned how to be courageous and considerate in sharing his beliefs.

 “It taught me to be respectful of others’ opinions and beliefs,” Schlag said. “It instilled within me a work ethic and a service ethic, which I try
to maintain to this day.”

 After returning from his mission, he went back to BYU, where he met his wife Abigail and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in
Recreational Management/Youth Leadership in 2000. He went on earn a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 2001.

 When faced with a difficult job market after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Schlag decided to go back into academics and recreation.
He enrolled in the University of Georgia at Athens, earning both a second master’s degree in instructional technology with distinction in 2005 and a doctorate in recreation and leisure studies in 2007.

 While he was working on his dissertation for his doctorate, he started his career at Western Illinois University as an assistant Professor in the Recreation Park and Tourism department in 2005. Schlag said what brought him to Western was its focus on students

 “Everyone with whom I met during my interviews talked about the students first,” Schlag said. “Every interview, from the department chair to the Provost, began with them saying, ‘Let me tell you about our students.’ I love Western Illinois University because the students are our main priority.”

 In his time at Western he has, outside of being a professor, served as the assistant chair of the Recreation Parks and Tourism Department from 2012  until 2013 and was until recently the associate director of the Centennial Honors College since August of 2014.

 The position of Office of President Chief of Staff came about as recommendation from the Western Board of Trustees to have a chief of staff in the office for various projects, initiatives and educational research.

 “It is exciting to begin a new adventure in a brand new position,” Schlag said. “President Thomas served as a Chief of Staff at other
universities, so his experience and advice has been invaluable over the past few weeks.”

 Schlag continued, saying that what he hopes to accomplish as the Office of President Chief of Staff is relieving burden
put upon President Thomas.

 “President Thomas’ office is incredibly dynamic and constantly busy,” Schlag said. “As Chief of Staff I would like to lighten President Thomas’ significant load, so that he can continue to promote Western Illinois University throughout the state, region, nation and world.”

 While being the Office of President Chief of Staff he will still teach within the Recreation Parks and Tourism Administration department. Schlag says that the department is a “family” and it has helped him prepared him for his new position.

 “In this department, which serves as a signature program, I learned that people should come first,” Schlag said. “Education is about people, and enhancing people’s lives should be of the utmost importance in higher education. My desire is to serve all people and promote this university to the best of my abilities.”

 Schlag says that he views being a professor as something that also happens outside of teaching and the classroom.

 “I enjoy serving on many university committees, on the Macomb Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors and with a group of local Boy Scouts,” Schlag said.

 Outside of his professional life, Schlag spends every possible moment with his wife Abigail and his four children, Rebekah, Spencer, Hunter and Taylor. He especially enjoys attending Western sporting events with them.

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Paul Schlag