When he was 20 years old, his father bought him a one-way ticket to the United States, where he planned to study chemistry. He arrived in Kansas in 1959, with $50 in his pocket, speaking German and Spanish — no English.
Boschmann succeeded in the academic world, earning a doctorate in chemistry, and then embarked on a long and distinguished career at Indiana University. He began as a professor of chemistry at Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis in 1968, and retired March 1 as interim dean of the IU Kokomo School of Business.
Through those years, he and his wife, Priscilla, made a habit of giving, including numerous gifts to IU. Their most recent donation of $50,000 funds the David and Anna Global Scholarship. They previously established the Seltzer Student Scholarship for International Study at IU Kokomo, in addition to creating a scholarship for chemistry students at IUPUI and a faculty summer fellowship at IU East.
"To see what we can do is really amazing," Boschmann said. "This is a country of opportunity, for anyone who wants to work. I knew education was the road to success. I had no other options in mind."
Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke stated. "Erv has been generous not only with money, but with his time, enhancing the success of faculty, staff, and students. We are grateful for his leadership at IU Kokomo, and for
establishing the overseas study scholarships. Many students will benefit from his gift, for many years into the future."
The Selzer Scholarships helps students participate in the short-term overseas opportunities available. The David and Anna Scholarship funds longer-term overseas opportunities.
IU President Michael A. McRobbie pledged to match the interest from that gift, to provide $5,000 per year in scholarships.
Leading the 2013 Innovation Symposium trip to England and Scotland inspired Boschmann, 75, to establish the scholarship, with the goal of helping students who want additional travel and study opportunities.
"Several students told me it was a life changing experience," he said. "I want to make sure that experience is available to them, by making funding available. I want them to go for a semester, at a school accredited by IU, and then come back to share their experiences with others. I believe students who have gone overseas on one of our shorter trips will want to do more."
Justin Clark, a senior, was one of the first recipients of the Seltzer Scholarship, which allowed him to participate in the Innovation Symposium in 2012.
"The scholarship was a game changer for me," he said. "I would never have been able to pay for this on my own. I was already working five days a week. Innovation Symposium changed my life. I appreciate Erv and Priscilla's kindness in establishing this scholarship."
IU honored Erv and Priscilla Boschmann's generosity, with induction into its most prestigious donor recognition society, the President's Circle, in October 2013. It recognizes those whose lifetime giving has reached $100,000.
The plaque with their name on it in the Indiana Memorial Union is likely the only place you will find their names in connection with their gifts, as they do not name any of the gifts after themselves. The two overseas study scholarships at IU Kokomo are named after their parents.
Before coming to IU Kokomo, Boschmann was a professor of chemistry, then associate dean of facilities at IUPUI. In 1998, he was named IU associate vice president for distributed education. He also served as provost at IU East.
The last five years of his career were at IU Kokomo, first as interim dean of the former School of Arts and Sciences, and then as interim dean of the School of Business.
Boschmann is most proud of leading the effort to split arts and sciences into two separate schools, the School of Sciences and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and of facilitating the organization of psychology into its own department. In the School of Business, he takes pride in increased enrollment in both the undergraduate and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program.
"I never act like I'm an interim," he said. "I act like I'm the full dean, and move forward."
Boschmann's leadership in dividing arts and sciences into the School of Sciences and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences will impact students for decades to come, said Kathy Parkison, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs. His international experiences were key to helping globalize the campus.
"He's encouraged our students to broaden their horizons, and to understand the global interconnections of work," she said. "He's an excellent teacher, and a nationally recognized scholar. We have been very fortunate to have him here. I think Erv is the nicest gentleman I know."
Christian Chauret, dean of the School of Sciences, said Boschmann's greatest contribution was his willingness to be a mentor for faculty, deans, and staff.
"Erv likes to see people grow," he said. "He likes to invest in people, and has a strong belief in academic excellence."
Boschmann looks forward to woodworking, reading, and traveling in retirement. He also wants to learn to dance, take piano lessons, and improve his Spanish language skills. He and Priscilla plan a trip to Jamaica soon, "because we're tired of being cold."
Later in the year, he plans to travel with his brothers to Russia and Ukraine, where his parents' families lived before the Russian Revolution, when they fled to Paraguay. He also will attend a family reunion in Argentina.
"I feel like my body is telling me it's time to quit, but on the other hand, I'm healthy," he said. "I want to keep giving back."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.