NIU loses ‘cutting-edge’ scholar

By Stephanie Szuda

Political science professor James Schubert died Monday at 1:45 a.m. from an extended illness at the age of 58.

Schubert was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a brain tumor, in January 2004, said Margaret Curran, visiting assistant professor in political science.

Schubert was employed at NIU in 1981 as a research associate for the center of Biopolitical Research, said April Davis, staff secretary for political science. He left in 1982 to work at Alfred University, in Alfred, N.Y. He returned to NIU in 1991, but spent his weekends in New York with his family.

There was not a lot of disconnect between Schubert’s work and his free time, Curran said.

“Jim was a political scientist to the core,” Curran said. “Thinking about it, doing research, reading about it; it was his real love.”

Schubert died at his home in Arkport, N.Y. with his wife and two children. He was married for 38 years, Curran said.

“He told me he fell in love when he was 18, and he never fell out of love,” Curran said. “He adored his kids, would have done anything for them and was proud of them.”

His two children, both in their 30s, and wife were a big part of his life, Curran said.

Curran grew close with Schubert in the nearly 10 years they did research together on physical appearance and leadership selection. She met him when she was a graduate student. She described Curran as the kindest and smartest man she ever knew.

“He was the kind of professor that I wish every graduate student had a chance to meet,” Curran said. “He wanted them to succeed, and he did it. He was successful at it.”

Schubert really enjoyed helping students reach their goals, Curran said.

Curran has since taken over Schubert’s classes for the semester.

“I’m teaching them in his spirit, I know what he wanted them to be,” Curran said.

He really was involved with his classes until about a week before his death, Curran said.

Daniel Kempton, chair of the political science department, said he felt Schubert was a gifted educator.

“Professor Jim Schubert was a cutting edge scholar, known for tackling subjects at the forefront of his field, such as analyzing judicial decisions using voice stress analysis or analyzing voting behavior based on objective criteria measuring candidate appearance,” Kempton said. “However, I will always remember Jim most for his zest for life and irrepressible sense of humor. Jim just seemed to have an innate talent for finding the humor in everything and sharing it with those around him.”

Emeritus professor Craig Ducat worked with Schubert for about 12 years.

“My friend Jim Schubert was an excellent teacher, an enterprising and productive scholar and a magnificent human being,” Ducat said.

Ducat, who retired three years ago, said he grew to be good friends with Schubert while working with him and also being ill.

“When you’re both very sick at the same time, you’re not just colleagues,” Ducat said.

In his academic career, Shubert received 12 grants and awards, had 43 publications and nearly 80 papers presented at professional meetings.

A visitation will take place Thursday and a funeral will be held Friday in Hornell, N.Y. His family plans to have a memorial service in DeKalb toward the end of the month, but that date has not been set.