Some aspiring doctors at the University of Maryland are lucky enough to find themselves in the Kensington, Md., office of Dr. Philip Schneider, B.S. ’79, biochemistry, shadowing one of the Washington area’s top spine surgeons and asking him for professional advice.
In a high-poverty, largely minority high school a few miles away, a younger group of students is just as lucky to work with Schneider’s wife, Joyce, B.A. ’79, criminology, a volunteer dedicated to getting them into college.
Last year, the couple furthered their commitment to local students by establishing an endowed scholarship for first-generation college students with financial need who enroll in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland. Preference will be given to students from Maryland’s Montgomery County.
“We’ve given lots of gifts over the years to the university, maybe in smaller amounts, but kind of all over the place,” says Dr. Schneider, president of Montgomery Orthopedics and a member of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation’s board of trustees. “What we really liked about this opportunity is that we could shape the gift, and it will be matched by the university in perpetuity.”
The Schneiders’ $50,000 gift created a TerpStart scholarship, part of a two-year matching initiative launched by the university. Spendable income generated by TerpStart scholarships will be matched by the university annually, forever.
The Schneiders met at Maryland and never really left. Committed athletic boosters, they attend every home football game and most basketball games. If you see the “Terpaholics” banner flying over their six-parking space tailgate—twice named “best tailgate” by the Division of Student Affairs—you’ve found them. The couple routinely hosts 75 to 200 friends, family members and students with food and festivities to match their fanaticism.
“It’s been a great way over 35-plus years to stay connected and to show our kids that the University of Maryland’s a great place,” says Dr. Schneider. “And we like having the students come by and talk with us about their future careers.”
Dr. Schneider was an Omicron Delta Kappa member and student government treasurer who followed his father into medicine, beginning at Maryland and finishing with his M.D. at Howard University. He serves as medical director of the Holy Cross Hospital Spine Center in Silver Spring, Md., and occasionally lectures on campus for the biology, and chemistry and biochemistry departments.
Mrs. Schneider was the first in her family to attend college. She spent years in corporate America before taking a break to raise the couple’s two children. Daughter Rachel is now a certified public accountant, and son Jonathan, B.A. ’13, government and politics and economics, works for a consulting firm. Mrs. Schneider founded a children’s museum and became an “all-purpose volunteer.” She says much of her work now is about helping others access services like education.
“People look at Montgomery County and see the ‘haves,’ but there is another part to the county where there are quite a few ‘have-nots,’” she says.
The Schneiders hope their latest gift to Maryland brings about more recognition of the need in Montgomery County.
“We’d like to start a trend,” says Dr. Schneider.
Writer: Kimberly Marselas
This article was published in the Summer 2015 issue of Odyssey magazine. To read other stories from that issue, please visit go.umd.edu/odyssey.