Thomas Schwietz 2

Class of 1954

Photo of Thomas Schwietz

A Graduate of the First PLS Class, Mr. Schwietz has had a varied, storied career. As a 73-year-old graduate of the first PLS class, I can give you some answers to the questions: “What do you want out of life? What do you want out of a college education?” If you are looking for happiness, a secure life, a good family, the ability to adjust to an ever-changing world and meeting your life’s goals, then PLS is for you. If you learn how to learn, learn how to question and learn how to adapt, you will be getting a great college education.

In high school, they tried to teach the answers. In college you need to find out what the questions are. The ultimate, never-changing question is, “What is it all about?”

Unlike you, I was not a top student in high school. I was admitted to Notre Dame after my graduation in July, 1950. I had not taken the qualifying ACT and SAT tests. But on entering Notre Dame, I opted to sign up for the Air Force ROTC program to keep me in college and out of the Korean War draft and was lucky enough to find myself enrolled in the PLS course of studies.

The most valuable things I learned in PLS-how to learn, to question, to read, to write, to think, how to argue and how to speak my mind-defined my unique career path. These valuable lessons vaulted me to the top of my military peer group. I was first in my class at flying school, one of 22 distinguished graduates out of 945 students in Squadron Officer’s School, distinguished graduate at Command and Staff College, admitted to the National War College in Washington, D.C., and awarded two masters degrees in International Relations and Public Administration. Following a 30-year career in the Air Force, wanting to seek further challenges, I applied to law school at the age of 55. From a roster of 750 applicants, 160 were accepted, 102 graduated, 97 took the bar and 72 of us passed it.

Law school was OK! After two years of service as Assistant Commonwealth Attorney (in Kentucky), we established a private practice. The firm has enjoyed an unqualified success. Besides my law practice, I am an investor and options trader in the stock market, an AARP volunteer tax consultant and an avid golfer.

However, all this is meaningless without family. The dedication to learning has been as important in family life as it was in my career. My children have come to emulate my quest for learning. I am proud to say, I have five wonderful children. All are successful. Two are medical doctors. Three are professional pilots. They are graduates of William and Mary, the University of California, the Air Force Academy and Stanford University. They are passing on the love to their children, who are proving to be fine students of learning, too. It makes a Papa happy. In addition to all these gifts of life, my wife Janice and I live a very satisfying life on the 18th green of the number two ranked golf course in Kentucky at Persimmon Ridge, where I play three days a week.

When people speculate about my undergraduate studies program, they presume I studied as an engineer, or in political science, or mathematics, or astronomy, or business or pre-law. In fact, they are all right. We just happened to call it the Program of Liberal Studies.

Tom Schwietz, 1954, entered the Air Force in 1955, commissioned through the ROTC, and was a command pilot with over 4300 hours. He served in many positions throughout his military career including Commander and Professor of Aerospace Studies at Air Force ROTC, University of Louisville. After retiring from the military, he founded and runs a successful law firm.