Westminster College Announces New Chair of the Aviation Department

Jun 8, 2015

June 8, 2015 SALT LAKE CITY - Westminster is pleased to announce John Schaefer as the new chair of the college's Aviation Department. He will be responsible for overseeing the college's aviation management and flight operations degree programs, curriculum and partnerships. "I'm excited to join the Westminster Aviation program. The aviation industry is experiencing rapid growth and ongoing changes," said Schaefer. "I look forward to leading the program through those changes." Schaefer retired as a colonel from the U.S. Air Force in 2015. During his 24-year military career, he served as an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot and a T-37 instructor pilot, accumulating more than 3,000 flying hours-400 of which were combat hours. He was the commander of the 300-person Air Operations Center responsible for command and control of all U.S. government air activities in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. The organization was responsible for the destruction of over 900 metric tons of cocaine and the capture of over 700 narcotics traffickers. He also served as an adviser and exchange officer with the U.S. Army on several occasions. Schaefer's major awards include a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device and two Bronze Stars. Westminster is one of only 30 elite colleges worldwide to earn accreditation by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI). Westminster's aviation programs provide students with a scenario-based flight training curriculum, partnership opportunities with SkyWest, Restricted Airline Transport Pilot certification and experience flying in a highly structured Class "B" airspace out of the Salt Lake City International Airport. Currently, Westminster has 85 students in the flight operations program and 15 aviation management students. Since 2008, more than 88 percent of Westminster's aviation program graduates have been employed in their planned career field, including:
  • 16 percent who are actively serving and flying in the military
  • 58 percent who are employed with airlines or other aviation companies
  • 14 percent who are flight instructors
  • 12 percent who are employed with companies outside of their major field of study
Under Schaefer's leadership, "the Aviation Department's will continue to adapt to the rapid pace of change in our industry," he added. "We'll do this by continuing to produce professional pilots through our FAA approved standards-based syllabi while upgrading our equipment and procedures to account for new technologies-and the new regulations that arise from those technologies." Schaefer graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, and has earned four masters' degrees, including a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, a Master of Systems Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, a Master of National Resource Strategy from National War College and a Master of Military Arts and Sciences from the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies.

Media Contacts

Krista DeAngelis and Arikka Von

About Westminster

Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.

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