Alumni Profiles     

Jerry L. Schrader, M.D., ’57
      Distinguished Alumnus,  2007


Jerry L. Schrader, ’57, is the Park University Alumni Association’s 2007 Distinguished Alumnus.

 Schrader arrived in Parkville in 1953 with $100 in his pocket and an incredible amount of untapped talent.  One of the first persons he met was Connie Vuillamy, ’33, Park's burser.  She saw potential, took his money and put him to work in Park’s family work program. Eventually he became the janitor supervisor. Four years later, he received a bachelor’s degree in biology, was awarded Park’s Burton Scheib Science Pre-Med Award and was accepted into the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Schrader credits his Park friends with setting his career on the right path. “I was quite undereducated when I came to Park College, and much of what I learned was taught to me by my peers. … Thanks to Park College, I was extremely well-prepared for medical school.” It was mutual admiration from his peers, many of whom nominated him as Distinguished Alumnus.

Schrader became a medical doctor in 1961 and served internships in Puerto Rico and Seattle, Wash. He settled in Salem, Ore., where he completed his residency in psychiatry, studying under innovative social psychiatrist Maxwell Jones, M.D. This experience influenced Schrader’s career path to private practice with a community-oriented approach focusing on advocacy and administration.

He spent half his time working and consulting in various community settings. He was the first staff member of Oregon’s Linn County Mental Health Clinic and was psychiatric consultant to the Willamette University Health Center and to the Oregon State University Health Center. He taught psychiatry to rural general medicine doctors through the University of Oregon Medical School, which led to a yearlong postdoctoral NIMH Fellowship at the Harvard University Medical School’s Laboratory of Community Psychiatry.

In 1973, as a result of his Harvard training, Schrader became Alaska’s director of mental health, based in Juneau. He developed the state’s mental health system and influenced major legislation regarding residents. As president of the Mental Health Association in Alaska he helped obtain a multibillion-dollar class action judgment in the Alaska Supreme Court favoring the mental health community. He explains this process as starting down “the path of suing the state as a well-informed but single person, and by the time it was settled there were attorneys representing the mentally ill, the alcohol and drug groups, the developmentally disabled and the seriously mentally ill. One should not underestimate the power of a determined citizen.” 

This victory resulted in Schrader’s appointment as chairman pro tem of the Alaska Mental Health Board, where he was charged with creating a working relationship between the board and the legislature. He also was named an American Psychiatric Association Fellow.

In 1987 his paper on the Alaska land issue experiences was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. In 1989 he returned to Oregon and resumed his private practice with an emphasis on community mental health until his retirement in 1999. 

Schrader has received numerous awards, including commendation letters from the Alaska Mental Health Board and the governor. He has served on several boards and has devoted personal time to serving his community. He owns a 48-foot, 33-ton deep-sea fishing vessel which he fished commercially from 1978 to 1982.  The F/V Good News is home ported in Juneau and is now used to explore southeast Alaska in the summer.  He continues to be an avid hiker and mountain climber, in past years scaling Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens prior to its eruption, among others. 

Classmate and friend Joe Williams, ’57, wrote in his nomination: “Dr. Schrader’s varied accomplishments are in accord with finest traditions of scholarship, professionalism, responsibility and service.  His distinguished professional career in both public and private mental health reflects the very highest standards for which a Park education is intended; and his active life of varied personal interests well illustrates the liberal tradition of education of the whole person that has always been the hallmark of Park.”