In 2018, after having lead Dallas Institute for twenty-six years, James M. Shoemake retired as president. Under his leadership, the institution experienced a significant increase in retention and graduation rates, strength and reputation. Shoemake made key additions to its academic offerings, as well as introduced a robust online, distance-funeral service education program. His tenure was marked by his high standards, integrity, exemplary reputation, and continuous improvements and will define the college’s culture for years to come.
M.S. University of Texas at Dallas; B.S. Southern Methodist University: Graduate. Dallas Institute of Funeral Service: Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. Director of Associate Degree Program.
Mr. Shoemake was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, the son of missionary parents. He grew up in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic where he graduated from high school. Consequently, he spoke Spanish before English. This proved to be beneficial with all the Latin terms used in the various science classes in mortuary school.
Mr. Shoemake came to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University where he graduated from SMU with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1973. Following graduation, he took a position at the Christian Funeral Home in Decatur, Texas. This led to a desire to become a licensed member of the funeral profession. He started his internship in 1974 and commuted to Dallas in 1975 to attend the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science (now DIFS) graduating in 1976.
While in Decatur, Mr. Shoemake went on to be named Funeral Director in Charge of the Christian Funeral Home until he moved back to Dallas in 1978. Upon his return to Dallas, he was employed at Dallas Morticians Service where he served as manager and embalmer until he took a position at Dallas Institute of Funeral Service in 1980.
Having always enjoyed teaching others, he saw the opportunity to teach Human Anatomy as terrific. He also had the opportunity to teach Public Health, Chemistry, Funeral Directing and Small Business Management over the years. In 1981, he started graduate school at the University of Texas at Dallas. There he earned his master’s degree in 1984. In February 1992, with the announced retirement of long-time president and instructor, Robert P. Kite, Mr. Shoemake was named Vice-President of DIFS. He was named President upon the retirement of Mr. Kite in late 1992.
He earned the designation of CFSP (Certified Funeral Service Practitioner) in 2004. The CFSP is funeral service's national individual recognition. The Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice awards this special recognition to members upon completion of specified academic and professional programs. Annually one must obtain at least twenty hours of continuing education to continue the designation.
President Shoemake continues to serve in many different capacities with the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards (ICFSEB), the National Associated Colleges of Mortuary Science (NACMS), the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the Texas Funeral Directors Association (TFDA), the North Texas Funeral Directors Association and the Dallas County Funeral Directors Association (DCFDA). He has also served on various committees with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and has worked closely with the Texas Funeral Service Commission (TFSC) and was a charter member of the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service Lions Club.
Some of the honors that Mr. Shoemake has received include the President’s Award for 2008 from the ICFSEB, The Innovations in Funeral Service Education Award for 2009 from the ICFSEB, and he was also honored by the Dallas County Funeral Directors Association as its Distinguished Funeral Director Award recipient for 2009. He is active in his church as both a deacon and serving on various committees. He has been married to Laura for over thirty years. They enjoy participating in church missions together and reading.