Dr. Shaffer pictured at middle with family during his birthday celebration. Courtesy of Indiana University.
It is with deep sorrow that we share with you news of the death of Robert H. Shaffer, Ph.D. Dr. Shaffer advanced the Student Affairs profession in immeasurable ways. A pioneer for student equality, Dr. Shaffer innovated a new structure of student affairs based on functional service to students instead of based on gender. His efforts and leadership provided the foundation from which our current system of student support arises. It is with thanks to Dr. Shaffer that we specify student affairs in areas like residence life, orientation, counseling, and student health. He served as the founding president of APGA (American Personnel and Guidance Association) in 1952 when it was founded by ACPA and 4 other national groups. Dr. Shaffer championed the international student experience and sought to improve the student experience for future success.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the life and work of Dr. Robert H. Shaffer. Together, let us remember and celebrate his contribution to our profession and extend our sympathy to his family as they grieve his passing.
With appreciation for all your work,
Stephen John Quaye, ACPA President
Donna Lee, ACPA Past-President
Jamie Washington, ACPA President-Elect
Cindi Love, ACPA Executive Director
Robert Howard Shaffer, Ph.D.
Robert Howard Shaffer, of New Smyrna Beach, FL, Professor Emeritus in the Schools of Education and Business at Indiana University, passed away peacefully on April 21, at the age of 101.
Born September 13, 1915 in Delphi, Indiana, to John W. and Bessie Hall Shaffer, he graduated in 1936 from DePauw University, Greencastle, IN, where he received his A. B. in history. He was a member of DePauw’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a quarterback on the 1933 football team, which was undefeated, untied, and un-scored-upon. He earned his M.A. degree in guidance from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and his Ph.D. degree in higher education from New York University in 1945. He was awarded LLD degrees from DePauw in 1976 and from Indiana University in 1985.
An Eagle Scout, he worked as a professional staff member of the Boy Scouts of America for five years in New York City, after which he began his 40-year career in higher education at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, interrupted only by his service in the U.S. Army from 1943-1945. His administrative positions at I.U. included dean of students and chairman of the departments of student personnel and higher education. His professional activities included leadership positions in several national organizations in the field of student affairs, from which he received numerous honors and awards. The IU Class of 1967 created the Robert H. Shaffer Chair in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Shaffer, an energetic, warm, caring person, who embraced life and saw the best in everyone, loved to help others grow. In a 1986 article in the Journal of Counseling and Development, Professors George D. Kuh and Michael D. Coomes noted, “Everybody who knows Bob admires and respects him. For over five decades – as a counselor, dean of students, faculty member, professional association leader, international consultant – Bob has pursued a simple but important goal: To encourage the personal and professional development of those with whom he has contact. Throughout the world there are thousands of former students, staff members, and professional associates – all of whom he considers friends – who have been touched by Bob’s enthusiasm and commitment to human development.” And in response to their question about how he would want to be remembered, Shaffer said simply, “I would like to be remembered as an individual who helped others be better than they would have been if they hadn’t met me.”
Shaffer continued to serve throughout his life. One of his recent projects was the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum of New Smyrna Beach, where he served on the board until recently. One of his favorite pieces of advice was, “Do good whenever an opportunity is presented.”
Survivors include his loving wife of 27 years, Dr. Joye Coy Shaffer; his son and daughter-in-law, Jim and Lynn Shaffer, of Cape Elizabeth, ME; a daughter-in-law, Margaret Vegeler, of Fort Wayne, IN; stepsons John Coy of East Amherst, NY, and William Coy of Nashville, TN; stepdaughters Connie Coy Weeks of Orlando, FL and Teri Coy McLean of Gainesville, FL; their spouses; two grandchildren, Derek Shaffer and Ryan Shaffer; four great grandchildren; eight step grandchildren; and two step great grandchildren. His first wife, Marjorie Fitch Shaffer, to whom he was married for 47 years, and a son, Bruce W. Shaffer, who died in the Viet Nam war, preceded him in death.