Office: Department of History
Chris Schnell spent his entire career teaching in the history department at Southeast, coming to Cape Girardeau in 1970 from graduate work at Kansas State University. Though he taught a variety of courses at SEMO, his specialty in modern American history had a decided political slant. He was vitally interested in the American political system and, most particularly, those elected to the presidency. He developed a multi-discipline course on the American presidency with members of the political science and speech departments. The class was always full and received a great deal of attention because of its innovative nature. The course and the relationship with speech and political science eventually became a weekly radio program on KRCU. Chris and his colleagues had a wide array of visitors on "Going Public" who came to talk and answer questions. Listeners were impressed by Chris' skill on the radio but this should not have been a surprise since Chris majored in radio and television as an undergraduate and worked as a radio DJ early in his career. Dr. Schnell was also involved with "Public Forum" on KBSI and "Historical Almanac" on KRCU.
Even though he was knowledgeable about all fourteen twentieth century occupants of the White House, he was most particularly involved with the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Much of his scholarly work revolved around the New Deal and the Kennedy assassination. Several of his articles, "Missouri Progressives and the Nomination of F. D. R.," and "Harry L. Hopkins and the Politics of Relief," were given awards by the State Historical Society of Missouri as the best articles published in 1974 and 1982. His research on Roosevelt and the New Deal garnered numerous research grants from the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, The Richard S. Brownlee Foundation, and Southeast Missouri State University. His interest in John Kennedy, and most particularly the conspiracy theories surrounding his death, was the fodder for dozens of presentations to groups large and small.
When Larry Breeze stepped down as the advisor to Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society in history, Chris Schnell became their advisor for the last twenty-five years of his career. Schnell's interest in student research led to a thirty year involvement with the Southeast Missouri Conference on History and his service on countless thesis and graduate paper committees. Throughout his tenure at Southeast, Chris Schnell was also actively involved in the Missouri Conference on History, presenting research and serving as president of the conference for three years. In that role, Chris helped to attract and direct the annual conference on the Southeast campus. Attendees remember those conferences on campus as some of the most memorable the conference ever conducted.