“Piano Man” Mike Schuler was let go because of budget restraints Thursday, only to be rehired within 24 hours.
Schuler has been playing piano in the Bean for about 20 years. After a four-year hiatus, he returned to the Bean a little over a year ago. Last semester, Schuler performed four or five days a week, most commonly during lunchtime after Chapel.
On Thursday, Schuler received a call from the office of Anthony Williams, chief business services offer, notifying him that his services had been cut. Schuler said he immediately turned to social media to rally students and alumni.
“I started telling the kids, I put something on Facebook about it. Immediately they got onto social media, Facebook, Twitter, emails, phone calls,” Schuler said.
Schuler said Williams called him and offered him work for three days a week, which he accepted appreciatively.
“I spent the weekend getting back on Facebook, Twitter and email thanking everybody,” Schuler said. “Thank you to the student body and everybody else that made a difference.”
Schuler attended Hardin-Simmons University in the ’80s before pursuing a career in instrumental performance, getting started at the now-defunct Crystal’s Pizza. Though self-taught on the piano, Schuler took trumpet lessons as a student and in the Air Force band.
“I love everything about music,” Schuler said. “It’s a really great way to have a positive influence on so many people.”
Schuler is not confined to the Bean. He also plays at Heff’s Burgers on Wednesday nights and Cypress Street Station Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.Â Occasionally, he plays at Hardin-Simmons or at more formal functions. Schuler said he enjoys playing for ACU students because of the response he gets.
“I can tell I’m making a difference,” Schuler said. “I’m playing requests. Sometimes I’ll do everything fromÂ SesameÂ Street to Star Wars. It’s a variety, it keeps me on my toes. It’s a lot of fun to be playing for an audience.”
Doug Joyner, sophomore digital entertainment major from Houston, said Schuler complements the Bean.
“He sets the mood for lunch,” Joyner said. “He keeps us relaxed and peaceful throughout our stressful day.”
Becky Jeffery, sophomore English major from San Diego, said she was notÂ surprisedÂ by social media’s role in Schuler being rehired.
“I think it makes sense, because that’s how people connect around the school. You don’t see people petitioning with papers anymore. It’s all online,” Jeffrey said.