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Schuhmann gift creates WKU student publications scholarship fund

When Paul Schuhmann (’69, ’71) began working at the College Heights Herald in 1967, he couldn’t have known that one day he would make a gift to WKU that would enrich the university experience of students just like him.

Paul and Ellen Schuhmann

Paul and Ellen Schuhmann

Schuhmann, of Louisville, Ky., met his future wife, Ellen Bennett Schuhmann (’70), while working at the Herald.  It is easy to see that his time working on the student publications at WKU made a large impact on his life.

When asked what WKU meant to him, Schuhmann quickly replied, “Everything.”  He added, “Western led me into my career and personal path after six wonderful years on campus.”

While working on his master’s degree, Schuhmann was a photographer and adviser for the College Heights Herald and the Talisman in 1970 and 1971. He also taught photography during this time.  After completing his degree, he was offered the opportunity to join WKU’s faculty but chose to pursue professional photojournalism in Louisville.  He credits his WKU education and experiences at the College Heights Herald and Talisman for setting him up for success in the professional world.  A photojournalist and photo editor at The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times for 30 years, Schuhmann has received many honors including two Pulitzer Prizes and a Southern Photographer of the Year award.

After graduating in 1970, Ellen Schuhmann worked at the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, Ky., and also for the Jefferson Reporter, Louisville Times and Louisville Magazine in Louisville.  While raising their two children, daughter Robin and son Matthew, she founded Schuhmann Communications.  In operation for 28 years, Schuhmann Communications was a newsletter writing and editing service.

Paul Schuhmann said he benefited tremendously from his time working under Student Publications Director Bob Adams.  “He served as a strong mentor and friend to me and my wife as he has to many aspiring journalists and photojournalists over his 47 years at Western.  I learned responsibility and developed the drive and skills that contributed to a successful career and personal life,” he said.  “It all started at Western.”

Ellen Schuhmann, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2001, passed away in 2010. Because WKU was such an important part of both their lives and because they had such fond memories of their time on campus, it was an obvious choice to make a gift to WKU.  “I realized that we don’t last forever and wanted to do something to honor my wife,” Paul Schuhmann said.

To ensure the important lessons he and his wife learned at WKU carry over to future generations, Paul Schuhmann made a gift to WKU to create the Paul and Ellen Schuhmann Student Publications Scholarship Fund. This scholarship is for a full-time junior or senior student who is on the staff of the College Heights Herald or the Talisman and has a cumulative grade point average of 2.8 or higher.  Recipients must also be majoring in either news/editorial journalism or photojournalism and display a serious interest and dedication to the craft.

The criteria for the Paul and Ellen Schuhmann Student Publications Scholarship are different from many other scholarship opportunities – the guidelines are very specific.  “I entered Western as a pre-veterinary student and Ellen was in elementary education – both of us ended up in journalism.  Most students have no idea what they intend to do with their lives when they start college,” he said.  “I want the scholarship to go to someone who has a strong chance of entering the profession. Journalism and photojournalism was our career path and I wanted to support students doing the same.”

In addition to creating the scholarship fund, Paul Schuhmann plans to donate all of his photographic material (photographs, negatives and proof sheets) to WKU from his six years as a student.

“Giving back is very important to me,” he said, “whether it be to my community or the university that meant so much to me and my wife.”

Sam Oldenburg

Sam Oldenburg

The first scholarship from the Paul and Ellen Schuhmann Student Publications Scholarship Fund was awarded in spring 2013 to Sam Oldenburg, of Owatonna, Minn., who was a senior studying photojournalism at the time.

“WKU is my second home,” Oldenburg said.  “Moving 800 miles away from home for college, I had many fears, all of which were put to rest by the wonderful people I met at WKU.”

Oldenburg was very thankful to receive this scholarship, especially since it was funded by a photojournalism alumnus.  “Among students and alumni, we talk often about the WKU photojournalism family – the very evident notion that we all care about and look out for each other,” he said. “This scholarship given by Paul Schuhmann is a great example of that.”

Oldenburg graduated from WKU in May 2013.  He is pursuing a position as a picture editor for a news organization.

The creation of this scholarship not only honors the memory of Ellen Schuhmann and the time she and Paul spent at WKU, it also helps share their story and the importance of WKU in their lives.

“If I had my life to live over again, the next time I would find her sooner so that I could love her longer,” Paul Schuhmann said.

Contact: Donald Smith, (270) 745-6256.

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