Professor John F. Schwaller's career in higher education spans more than 30 years. A nationally-recognized scholar of early colonial Latin America, and of Nahuatl and the Nahua (the Aztec language and people) Dr. Schwaller is the author of five books and the editor of three others. Additionally, Dr. Schwaller is the author of 50 articles in leading scholarly journals and has more than 100 professional papers and presentations to his credit. He sits on the Editorial Board of two scholarly journals, The Americas and Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl. He is the Latin American area editor of Ethnohistory. He is also the moderator – editor of two H-Net groups: H-Latam and H-Nahuatl.
His teaching experience began as a graduate student when he was an assistant instructor of Spanish at the University of Kansas. He was an Instructor of Indiana University. His tenure track career began at Florida Atlantic University, where he first gained tenure and attained the rank of professor of History and Languages and Linguistics. He taught as a visiting professor of church history at the Regional Seminary of St. Vincent de Paul, Boynton Beach FL, during his time in South Florida. He was a visiting professor of history at the Franciscan School of Theology, Berkley, CA, and then professor of History and Spanish at the University of Montana, the University of Minnesota, Morris, and a professor of history at SUNY Potsdam.
He was the president of SUNY Potsdam 2006-13. He served as the vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, and professor of history and languages from 2001-2006 at University of Minnesota, Morris. From 1995-2001, he was associate provost and associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of Montana, Missoula. Previously, Dr. Schwaller was the director of the Academy of American Franciscan History at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California. Prof. Schwaller began his administrative career as the associate dean of the Schmidt College of Arts and Humanities at Florida Atlantic University, where he held a number of important administrative positions.
Schwaller is the recipient of several awards, including the Administrative Service Award from the University of Montana, Distinguished Teacher of the Year from the College of Arts and Humanities of Florida Atlantic University and two Fulbright-Hays Research Awards, and major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
His numerous professional service commitments include membership on the executive council of the American Catholic Historical Association; he chaired the program committee of the American Historical Association Conference on Latin American History; he was resident of the Rocky Mountain Council of Latin American Studies; and he served as United States Delegate to the History Commission of the Pan American Institute of Geography and History. He is a member of the general committee of the Conference on Latin American History.
President Schwaller earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Grinnell College, a Master of Arts in Spanish from the University of Kansas and a Doctorate in Colonial Latin America History from Indiana University. In 2009 he was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa, by Grinnell College in recognition of his accomplishments in higher education. He was inducted into the Imperial Order of Carlos V highlighting his efforts to increase awareness of Spanish history and culture. The Academy of American Franciscan History made him an Honorary Scholar and gave him the Tibesar Award for Lifetime Achievement.