Frank Ellsworth Schooley, the son of Ellsworth B. and Viola (Hasbrouck), was born in Effingham, Illinois on March 1, 1906. After graduating from Effingham High in 1923, he attended the University of Illinois where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism in 1929. On July 22, 1937, Schooley married Eleanor Brown. They became the parents of six children: Frank, Fred, Jane, Betsy, Mary Lou, and Jean.
Schooley began his forty-three year career in broadcasting in 1929 when he was offered the position of Assistant to the Publicity Director, and Assistant in Journalism at the University of Illinois. Josef Wright, who was then the publicity director and the director of the university's radio station, WILL, turned over to Schooley the day-to-day responsibility of running the radio station. He became the first full time employee at the station, supervising two part-time announcers, and one part-time engineer. His duties encompassed a wide range of activities which included announcing, doing remote broadcasts, technical work, and handling the administration of the radio station's operations.
WILL, originally called WRM, was created when Boetious H. Sullivan gave the University of Illinois $50,000 to start an educational radio station. It was often referred to as the Roger C. Sullivan Memorial Station. It was built by students in the Department of Engineering, who then gave it to the University's Public Information Office to operate. Under Schooley's administration, WILL began broadcasting the University of Illinois's football and basketball games. After Wright retired from broadcasting in 1948, Schooley received the title of station manager and in 1955, the year that WILL-TV was established and WILL-FM was granted its present frequency, he was named Director of Broadcasting, a position he held until 1972. That same year he was honored for his many years in broadcasting by the formation of the Frank E. Schooley Radio-TV Fund, created by the University of Illinois Foundation to benefit the WILL-Radio and TV station.
In addition to his work at WILL, Schooley taught in the School of Journalism at the University of Illinois. He helped establish courses in radio and television, and taught courses in radio and television station management, and radio and television regulations. In 1968 he was made a full professor of radio and television. He was selected to appear in the 1970 edition of "Outstanding Educators of America."
Schooley also actively participated in many university associations. As a student he was chief news editor of The Daily Illini. As a professor of broadcasting he belonged to the Board of Directors of the Illini Publishing Company for eleven years, ten of which he served as chairman. He was the faculty advisor to Ma-Wan-Da, the senior honorary society for men on the University of Illinois campus, and was a former head of the Central Illinois professional chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, a national professional journalism fraternity. He was also a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, a national honorary journalism society, and was an active member in the University of Illinois Alumni Association.
Frank E. Schooley's other professional activities included a long affiliation with the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. He held the position of Executive Secretary from 1937 to 1943 and again in 1952. He served as president from 1944 to 1945 and from 1955 to 1956. He was treasurer from 1951 to 1954, and a member of the Board of Directors in 1947. He also served on the Joint Council on Educational Television in the 1950's. In 1968, President Johnson appointed Schooley to the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as the only educational broadcaster.
Frank E. Schooley was also very active in service to his community. He served as secretary of the Exchange Club of Champaign, a local service club, from 1941 to 1951, and as president in 1951. He was selected by this organization to receive the "Golden Deeds Award," given in recognition of his unselfish, distinguished service to his community. At one time he served as the state president of the Illinois State Exchange Clubs. He was chairman of the board of directors of the Champaign County Chapter of the America Red Cross from 1960 to 1961. In addition to all his other civic activities, Schooley served as a Champaign city councilman from 1959 to 1969.
Frank E. Schooley died on June 12, 1987 at the age of 81.