University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Biographical Profile - Joe Schwarz, M.D., Member of Congress

Since graduating from Battle Creek Central High School in 1955, U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz has served his nation, his state and his community. Joe Schwarz attended the University of Michigan and graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts in history. He received his medical degree from Wayne State University in 1964, soon after volunteering for service in the U.S. Navy to fight communist infiltration in Southeast Asia. He served two tours of duty, the first in Vietnam, and the second as assistant naval attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Djakarta, Indonesia, reporting to the Defense Intelligence Agency. He retired from the Navy with the rank of lieutenant commander (O-4).

After leaving the Navy, Schwarz remained in Southeast Asia until 1970 as an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. Since his return from government service, Schwarz has been a fixture in Battle Creek. A practicing otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist), he has been treating patients for 30 years. He still sees a small number of patients, schedule permitting, at the Family Health Center of Battle Creek, a federally qualified health center.

In 1979, Dr. Schwarz began what would be eight years of service on the Battle Creek City Commission, the last two years as mayor. He presided over the expansion of the Fort Custer Industrial Park and successfully fought efforts to close down the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base and what is now called the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center.

In 1986, Dr. Schwarz won a hotly contested race for the Michigan Senate. He joined the chamber's leadership in 1993 as president pro tempore. He held that office for the next 10 years until term limits compelled his departure from the Legislature.

As the Senate's only physician, and as a member of the Health Policy Committee, Dr. Schwarz was the chamber's resident expert on health-care issues. As chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, Dr. Schwarz was, and remains, a forceful advocate for keeping the avenues of scientific and medical research open to our young people. As chairman, Joe Schwarz made sure our public colleges and universities received adequate state funding, helping keep education accessible to Michigan residents. Since leaving the Senate in 2002, Dr. Schwarz has continued to demonstrate his passion for education. He sits on numerous advisory committees at Wayne State and Michigan, he is president-elect of the U-M Alumni Association and serves as a trustee of Olivet College, one of numerous institutions of higher education in the 7th District.

The district contains numerous public and private institutions of higher education, including Jackson Community College in Jackson, Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Adrian College and Siena Heights University in Adrian, Olivet College in Olivet and Albion College in Albion. The 7th District is bordered on three sides by major state universities-Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo (west), the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti (east) and Michigan State University (northeast), many of whose employees reside in the 7th District. Extending into the western edges of Lansing and its suburbs, the district also is the place of residence for many employees of the State of Michigan.

Agriculture and military service are a prominent aspect of life in the 7th District. The southern-tier counties of Branch, Lenawee and Hillsdale are rich in agriculture, although there is a heavy agriculture presence in every county. Battle Creek houses three military facilities-the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, the Michigan National Guard's Fort Custer Training Center and the Battle Creek Michigan Air National Guard Base.

In early 2004, Schwarz entered the race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Nick Smith. The 7th Congressional District, one of Michigan's largest congressional districts, includes all of Branch, Lenawee, Hillsdale, Jackson and Eaton counties, almost all of Calhoun County, and western Washtenaw County. The district encompasses population centers of suburban Ann Arbor, the cities of Jackson and Battle Creek, as well as part of the city of Lansing and the greater Lansing area.

Dr. Schwarz won the Nov. 2, 2004, general election for Congress with over 58 percent of the vote from residents of this very diverse district.

Dr. Schwarz keeps his focus on the issues that matter most to his constituents: creating jobs, improving our health-care and education systems, strengthening national defense, fighting crime and protecting the environment. As a congressman, physician and former state legislator, he has the drive, dedication and experience to get things done for the citizens of the 7th District.

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