John Schaufelberger to receive 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from national Associated Schools of Construction

Peter Kelley

John Schaufelberger, UW professor of construction management, is a respected teacher, engineer, administrator and former officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He is dean emeritus of the College of Built Environments. Now he is also recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Associated Schools of Construction.

John Schaufelberger to receive 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from national Associated Schools of Construction

John Schaufelberger

The association, also called ASC, represents construction educators and industry practitioners seeking the advancement of construction education through the 150-some construction management programs at colleges in the United States, Canada and Europe.

The lifetime achievement award is given each year to recognize the work of someone who has advanced construction education through “knowledge, inspiration, guidance and/or the promotion of excellence in curricula, teaching, research and service.” The ASC praised Schaufelberger as an accomplished scholar, servant leader and student-focused educator. He will receive his award on April 5, during the group’s annual conference.

Schaufelberger’s resumé is lengthy indeed. He joined the UW in 1994 after a 30-year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, managing public construction projects internationally and even representing the U.S. in negotiations with some foreign governments. At the UW, he was chair of the Department of Construction Management from 2002 to 2014, and dean of the College of Built Environments from 2012 to 2019. He served in the UW Faculty Senate from 1997 to 2012.

Schaufelberger has written a number of textbooks on construction management as well as journal articles, papers and technical reports. He has been active in the American Council for Construction Education and serves on its board of trustees. He was associate editor of the ASC’s International Journal of Construction Education and Research for many years.

The ASC quoted Renée Cheng, current dean of the College of Built Environments, praising her predecessor: “Most people try to follow the ‘golden rule,’ treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. John follows what you might call the diamond rule, treat others better than yourself. He never hesitates to take on tasks that, given his seniority and roles, would seem to be beneath him. But he does not consider what is above or beneath, merely that if he can help, he will.”

UW Notebook caught up with Schaufelberger for a couple of questions about his work.

You came to the UW after retiring from the U.S. Army, where you were a teacher and administrator for many years. Has your Army experience been helpful to your work at the UW? In what ways?

Yes. Both the Army and academia are in the people business, heavily focused on mentoring, training and education. I found the intellectual engagement with students just as rewarding as mentoring young Army officers. In the Army, I learned to be a servant leader and to make decisions based on incomplete information. Both skills have been very useful at the UW.

What was your most challenging construction project or negotiation during your Army Corps of Engineers years?

I think that the most challenging construction project on which I worked was constructing a military city for 75,000 people in Saudi Arabia in a remote area near the border with Kuwait and Iraq. It is called King Khalid Military City and involved an international workforce of 15,000 workers installing $2 million dollars of construction per day.

What are the effects of climate change on the construction industry? How will 21st century construction — and construction education — differ from that of the 20th century? 

I think that the major changes will occur in reducing carbon emissions from construction activities. New construction materials will be developed, construction equipment will become electrified, and use of modularization in construction will increase. The challenge in construction education will be to remain current with the rapid adoption of technology for planning and executing construction.

What’s next for you?

My plans are to retire from UW at the end of December but to continue to work with the American Council for Construction Education to mentor construction educators.

  • Watch a video produced by the College of Built Environments to congratulate Schaufelberger on his award.

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