Jeff Schoenherr ’91: The Ultimate Michigan-OSU Rivalry

According to Jeff, being a Delta Chi Brother in the late ’80s and early ’90s was a lot of fun. The chapter was small in numbers, as compared to today, however, they always accomplished a lot and kept the brotherhood going at Michigan. The house was in better condition than it is today and, although there was wear and tear, there was still a lot of fun to be had in the old place.  

When he first joined the fraternity, it was also a treat to have a “pop” vending machine in the basement. For brothers who recall, it dispensed Towne Club “pop” for five cents and Wiedemann’s bottled beer for 25 cents. Looking back, that was a bargain! He also liked the parties that they threw at the house because, although it was a smaller house, they hosted some terrific parties.

A positive aspect of the chapter’s size was the constant ability to meet many of the people who attended. Getting a party together and planned was almost as much fun as the parties themselves. Jeff admitted that maybe he just liked hosting parties, but he recalls that they had fun just getting the whole thing ready!

His pledge class was always having a blast together and were consistently begging Chris Sujek ’90 and Wayne Nelson, their pledge class instructors, to haze them. Delta Chi and the chapter outlawed hazing many decades ago, which is the right thing to do. However, as silly college kids, they wanted to be hazed. “So those guys would take us camping and ask us to do all kinds of fun things,” Jeff recalls. He admitted that it didn’t include anything dangerous or really humiliating, but they all had fun anyway. 

The chapter house was Jeff’s home for his junior and senior years, and he absolutely loved it!  During his junior year, he lived in “Middle Earth” with Rob Areklett ’91, even though, technically, you could say Areklett lived at the College of Architecture with all of the late-night studying he did. Senior year, he lived in “Windows,” and Mike Asman ’91 lived in “Grand Central,” making them roommates. Ah, the stories they still talk about in regard to those years!

Jeff’s favorite times were just hanging out at the house, usually drinking beer and talking about whatever subject came up at the time. The most fun evening had to be the night Michigan won the National Championship in basketball (1989). DX had a big gathering at the house and everyone was packed into the living room for hours. It was an action-packed game and when overtime finished and Michigan won by a single point, the entire house erupted! He recalls stepping out on the porch just minutes after the game ended and watching people streaming down Hill Street toward campus. The entire city was outside celebrating. Of course, someone yelled “South U,” and the house emptied out with everyone else walking to campus. That was truly the most exciting evening of his time at Michigan.

One of the most special moments was when his father was initiated as an honorary member when Jeff was an undergraduate. “To this day, my father recalls the night Jeff Klaiman ’93 initiated him into the brotherhood,” Jeff said.  He took the whole thing as seriously as the undergraduates did and was impressed by the initiation ceremony and meaning. Since then, he has attended a few events at the house with his son and knows many of the brothers personally. 

Taking on leadership positions in the house, like being the “B,” is another one of his favorite memories. In fact, he feels he gained the most from his experience at Michigan from being part of the DX fraternity. 

It would not be enough to say that he made friends from his membership in Delta Chi Michigan. Today, Jeff can say that most of his closest friends are brothers like Mike Asman, who was his best man, Rob Areklett, Jeff Klaiman and Pete Fogler ’89, who traveled to Puerto Rico for his wedding. It was also terrific to reconnect with Dan McDonald ’91 a few years back, since they are both in New England.  

He’s been long-time friends with John Levinson ’73, who is “the glue that keeps the fraternity running behind the scenes,” and Alan Knaus ’66, the long time ABT president. There are many brothers who Jeff talks with every now and then, and he greatly enjoys keeping in touch with everyone.

Jeff has also had the honor of serving as the alumni corporation president for years, which allows him to keep in touch with many brothers from different decades.    

After receiving his B.A. in political science from Michigan, Jeff began his post-graduation career at a title insurance company for a very short time before returning to Ann Arbor where he was an admissions counselor in the office of undergraduate admissions. This was the beginning of his 24-year career in higher education, and he has really enjoyed working on college campuses and being a part of the campus cultures.

He worked at the University of Michigan in admissions, alumni association, and the business school for 10 years. From there, he went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for 10 years where he served as director of development and led the major gift fundraising team for the university and division of medicine. His next career venture took him to Harvard Law School where he was the executive director of development and alumni relations. Then came Emerson College in Boston where Jeff served as vice president for development and alumni relations

All of his jobs have been in the business of relationship building, and he continues to travel a great deal, meeting alumni and parents who are interested in supporting higher education. While Sterling Heights, MI is Jeff’s hometown, his career has allowed him to live in other places including Ann Arbor, MI; Baltimore, MD; and Boston, MA. 

In 2000, he married Maria Lopez Schoenherr. She worked for years in marketing and advertising and she also taught high school Spanish in Baltimore. Now, she happily works from home teaching their kids Spanish as their first language.  

“I married a Buckeye,” said Jeff. The brothers who kept in contact with him know this fact; however, it will come as quite a shock to others reading this because he bleeds Maize and Blue. “It makes the fall particularly interesting around our house. We have a half Michigan and half Ohio State flag for football Saturdays,” he said.

They have two children, Marco (7) and Natalia (3), who were born with a terrific sense of humor. “They make me laugh every day,” he said. Marco and Natalia are as fluent in Spanish and English as children can be. Marco’s favorite college team is Wisconsin, so they affectionately call him Switzerland (neutral), due to the fact that mom cheers for the “poisonous nuts” and dad for the Wolverines.  

“My greatest successes to date are my wonderful children,” he said, “They make me smile every day.” He is beyond proud of even their smallest accomplishments.

Regarding his brotherhood, he is most proud of the active members and recent graduates who have brought the chapter to a place of strength, both in numbers and leadership on campus. They have also been patient with the alumni when it comes to the physical house and are very supportive of the new building plans.

Speaking of the new building, he also very proud of the group of brothers from the 1960s who recently stepped up to take on a $1M campaign for the new chapter house. They have approximately $90K remaining after just one year of public fundraising, and he personally challenges every brother to make a pledge of any amount to help them build the new house!

The best advice he can offer to today’s youth is to “enjoy your college years. Many of us used to talk about graduating and getting on with ‘real life.’ College is real life when you are there.  So, enjoy it!”