His family moved to north of Clarence, Missouri, where he graduated from high school in 1937. In 1941 he graduated from Northeast Missouri State Teachers College with a bachelor"s degree.
He served as the chancellor of the University of Missouri in the 1960s and as the president of Arizona State University in the 1970s. During World World War II, Schwada served in the Army Air Forces and rose to the rank of captain. After the war, he continued his studies, earning a master"s degree in political science from the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1947 and a doctorate in 1951 from the University of Texas at Austin.
In the early 1950s, Schwada became an associate political science professor at Missouri.
During this time, he received a grant from the Ford Foundation to study the development of teaching material in the field of international relations. In June 1957, he became a consultant to the state of Missouri"s Division of Budget and Comptroller and helped it revise its budget policies.
The next year, he was appointed by Governor James T. Blair, Junior. as state comptroller and director of Missouri"s budget. He resigned from the position in 1961 to return to the faculty of the university.
In 1964, Schwada returned to Columbia to serve as the chancellor of the University of Missouri.
He was the 15th chief executive of the Columbia campus and the first to bear the title chancellor after the creation of the four-school University of Missouri System. In Schwada"s final year at Missouri, on May 8, 1970, a student revolt prompted by the murder of four students at Kent State University stormed his office and briefly took over campus. In December 1970, Schwada announced his resignation from the University of Missouri, in order to become the thirteenth president of Arizona State University beginning in July 1971.
His inauguration, in March 1972, was marked by yet more student protests when MEChA led 80 students in a demonstration against what they believed to be discriminatory university policies.
During his decade-long administration, university enrollment jumped from 26,000 to 40,000. Schwada supervised the construction of new athletic venues including the University Activity Center and Packard Stadium, and during his tenure Arizona State University joined the Pacific-10 Conference.
Academically, new buildings for life sciences, physical sciences and communication arts were also erected, and the College of Public Programs was established. During Schwada"s decade as president, Arizona State University awarded more degrees than it had in its entire previous history.
In 1981, Schwada retired and was succeeded by J. Russell Nelson.
Schwada died on April 19, 1990, in Phoenix, after a brief illness. In 1995, a building on campus, the Classroom Office Building which houses lecture halls and some offices, was renamed in his honor.
Comptroller, budget director, State of Missouri, 1958-1961. Board fellows American Graduate School International Management. Board directors Public Broadcasting Service, 1974-1980.
Member Arizona State Board Education, 1975-1979. Served to captain United States Army Air Corps, 1942-1946.
Son of; married Wilma Ruth Webster, May 24, 1947. Children: John Webster, Annual.