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When charged with pitching a big idea, what would a group of writers come up with? A small conference that brings laughter, tears, learning and friendship — and lasts for 15-plus years.
Developed in 2000, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop began as a challenge from the University’s Alumni Association, said Teri Rizvi ’91, executive director of strategic communications.
“Ours was not the huge idea they were envisioning, but it has lasted,” Rizvi said. “Originally, it was going to be a one-time workshop to coincide with the Bombeck family’s gift of Erma’s papers to the University. The second time we hosted it, we laughed for three days and knew we would do it again.”
Started in 2004 with a $100,000 gift from the cousin of Marianist Brother Tom Price — the English professor and 1911 alumnus who told Bombeck those three magic words, “You can write” — the workshop’s endowment has recently picked up steam, garnering $33,000 from a spring fundraiser featuring nationally known author and performer Mary Lou Quinlan and two anonymous gifts totaling $50,000.
“Until recently, we’ve hid the light under the bushel, so to speak, about the workshop, which is crazy because it’s national in scope,” Rizvi said. “More and more, I’m seeing the potential for its long-term sustainability and growth.”
The endowment serves a two-fold purpose. First, it helps keep the workshop affordable for writers, many of whom pay their own way and whose experience runs the gamut from weekly newspaper columns and blogs to traditionally published books. Second, it ensures the long-term sustainability of a conference that supports writers — and provides an invaluable learning opportunity for students. Over the years, the workshop has attracted such household names as Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor, Phil Donahue, Nancy Cartwright, Gail Collins, Alan Zweibel, Lisa Scottoline and others.
“The Alumni Association continues to be a terrific supporter of the workshop,” Rizvi said. “Each session, they underwrite scholarships for students, allowing about 30 of them to attend for free. It’s a phenomenal gift, and it emphasizes the belief they have in the message of the workshop.”
Vicki Edwards Giambrone ’81, who served as Alumni Association president when the workshop originated and continued as a workshop volunteer and donor, said Bombeck’s influence played a crucial role.
“This project has been a labor of love for me and the UD Alumni Association since the beginning because of what Erma means to all of us,” she explained. “Erma often told the story of finding her calling at UD, so when the National Alumni Association was given the opportunity to work with the Bombeck family and create the workshop, it was a perfect match and a unique opportunity to honor someone who brought us all so much pride, laughter and joy.”
Social studies teacher Justin Parker ’14 arrives in his classroom each morning. By the end of the day, he will have seen 107 students sitting in front of him; but he also has the spirit of former social studies teachers behind him.
For Parker, a first-year teacher at Dayton Early College Academy, such a career was a goal set during his own high school years after a charity ballgame gave him a new perspective — and a Flyer connection.
“I had a particular teacher in high school that I wanted to model myself after,” said Parker, who attended Solon High School near Cleveland. That teacher oversaw an annual dodgeball tournament in memory of Solon social studies teacher David Yates, a 1981 UD graduate who died in 2000 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Every year, my teacher shared memories of Yates and how those experiences impacted his life,” Parker said. “Without ever meeting Mr. Yates, I learned how selfless he was as an educator and as a person. I did my best during my own time at UD to emulate those character traits.”
A magna cum laude graduate and Dayton Civic Scholars participant, Parker was also a recipient of the University’s David Thomas Yates Scholarship. A history major, Yates was president of the honorary history society and received the Dean Leonard A. Mann, S.M., Award of Excellence, given to the outstanding senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Established in 2000 by Yates’ family, the scholarship has since been awarded 14 times to service-minded students training for teaching careers — students like Corinne Smyth Gries ’04, the scholarship’s first recipient. Today, she teaches education at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
“UD challenged me to look beyond the classroom and use my education to give back to others,” Gries said. “It was helpful and comforting to know that through the Yates scholarship, someone else was giving back and supporting my education. Earning the scholarship showed me that UD is a community that cares about the future generations of Flyers.”
Parker agreed. “The Yates scholarship held a very special meaning in my life,” he said. “My hope is to make an impact on the students I teach in the same way past teachers impacted me.”
So, they held a joint celebration with Crivaro’s parents, who were celebrating 60 years of marriage. They hired the West Chester Swing Kings, a 19-piece big band, and enjoyed a hot-and-cold buffet from Carlino’s Specialty Foods. And they encouraged guests to send gifts — but not the kind wrapped in pretty paper.
Instead, the couple asked attendees to give to the David Thomas Yates Scholarship at the University of Dayton.
“David Yates ’81 was my roommate for three years at UD, my best friend for nearly 23 years, the brother I never had, and one of my groomsmen,” Connor wrote in his anniversary invitation. “At UD, Dave taught me — a clueless hick from upstate New York — how to study and, by example, showed me there was nothing wrong with having a work ethic and striving for perfection. Dave inspired me to become an A student. I owe Dave for not only my academic achievements but also for my subsequent professional success.”
The duo met in Founders Hall and roomed together as the first residents of 361 E. Stewart St. in the newly built Garden Apartments. Yates helped Connor learn to study, and Connor, a security guard for Marycrest Hall and Campus South,
introduced Yates to new faces. Senior year, they shared the Dean Leonard A. Mann, S.M., Award of Excellence, the first time the honor was ever split.
“For two years before his death, Dave attended an annual Yates 5K Run/Walk in Solon, Ohio, that raised funds for ALS patients and their families,” Connor said. “The theme was ‘Celebrate Life,’ and that’s what we wanted to do with our anniversary. I miss Dave, but I’m grateful our paths crossed when we were young men at our beloved UD.”
At the announcement, there was a gasp from the crowd followed by a long ovation — sustained clapping for the new Hanley Sustainability Institute.
The campus community gathered in the Central Mall Sept. 19 to hear of the $12.5 million gift from George Hanley, a 1977 business graduate and member of the University of Dayton board of trustees, and his wife, Amanda Hanley, to support the University’s goal to become a national leader in sustainability education. It is the largest single gift in University history.
President Daniel J. Curran said the gift is an investment in the future of our planet from a couple who is passionate about environmental protection and the common good.
“At many universities, sustainability education is focused solely on the environmental sciences,” Curran said. “This gift will extend sustainability education across multiple disciplines. We’re deeply grateful to the Hanleys for their generosity and vision.”
Initial plans for the institute include developing an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in sustainability; creating an urban agriculture demonstration project with community partners; establishing Hanley Research Fellows and Hanley Scholars-in-Residence to support student and faculty research; and inaugurating the Hanley Conference on Sustainability Education. The goal is for the University to become the top-rated Catholic university on the STARS (Sustainability
Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) list for sustainability in higher education.
Noted Curran, “Sustainability is really a philosophy that stems from our Catholic, Marianist mission. It’s about how we protect the poor and vulnerable in our world. It’s about respecting human dignity. It’s about promoting the common good. In this respect the new Hanley Sustainability Institute complements our commitments in human rights research and education.”
The Hanleys took the podium to express their support for good work already achieved by the University community.
“My time here has affected … my life in so many ways,” George Hanley said. “This gift is about providing students, faculty and staff with the resources to solve the problems our world faces but also to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Added Amanda Hanley: “We are thrilled with UD’s national leadership and hope one day interdisciplinary sustainability education will run deep at every university.”
Ryan Schuessler, senior mechanical engineering student and director of the University’s 2014 Sustainability Week, said he’s seen interest in sustainability take off.
“A record number of first-year students selected sustainability as their learning-living community this year,” Schuessler said. “The sustainability movement is growing so fast. Students are looking for ways to link academics with action.”
Senior Saehan Lenzen is a mechanical engineering major with both a minor in sustainability and a concentration in energy systems.
“There’s so much passion for sustainability, and now we have the support for what we need to do. This pushes me toward staying [at UD] longer,” for a graduate degree, she said.
With the Hanleys’ lead gift, the University will launch a comprehensive campaign to raise additional funds from foundations, corporations and other donors to bring total funding for the institute to $25 million.
About the Hanleys
The Chicago couple have long been generous donors to the University. In 2007, they established the Hanley Trading Center in the University’s School of Business Administration. A recent gift supported the University’s ETHOS program, which allows students to use their engineering skills to implement locally sustainable technologies for humanitarian purposes around the world.
George Hanley is best known for founding Chicago-based Hanley Group, which was acquired by INTLFCStone, and for his membership at the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, now CME Group. He presently serves as a co-founder and principal of Level 5 Trading.
Amanda Hanley is a strong advocate of environmental protection and innovative ideas for a healthier planet, people and economy. She has been working toward sustainable solutions for more than 25 years, serves on various environmental
boards, and frequently blogs about green issues.
George and Amanda Hanley created their family foundation in 1997. It has come to support organizations that are advancing environmental, educational and social empowerment solutions, both on a local and global scale. They are particularly drawn to innovative models in sustainability that can lead to wider systemic change and greater impact.
Sometimes, it’s OK to spend the summer indoors.
For the one to two undergraduate students chosen each year for a Lancaster-McDougall Award, devoting a summer to scholarship is a luxury. As one past recipient wrote, “It allowed me to devote my time to research without needing a part-time job.” A summer job pays the bills — but a summer of research paves the way to graduate programs and fruitful careers.
Like that of Wayne Lancaster ’69, a professor in Wayne State University’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics. He and his wife, Lucy Grégoire, felt so strongly that student research is the key to future success that in 2010 they created a sustainable scholarship endowment to fund an undergraduate research award in biology. It is named after Lancaster and his mentor, the late Kenneth McDougall, who served as Lancaster’s master’s thesis adviser.
Such opportunities are what set the UD biology curriculum apart, says Mark Nielsen, department chair. “A unique strength of ours is our ability to get undergraduates involved in research. At larger institutions, they simply don’t have the room in their laboratories; at smaller schools, they don’t have the resources. Our faculty really depend on students to help further their research,” he said.
The emphasis on student-driven study starts with their Lancaster-McDougall application. The process is competitive, with students drafting their formal grant proposals in National Institutes of Health — the foremost funding agency for biomedical research — format. They identify a faculty mentor who will support them in the lab. And they tackle real problems that others need answers to.
“No one’s giving money away,” Nielsen explained. “It’s important that students learn how to earn money for their research and explain what it’s for. When you’re spending other’s money, you better have a hard, solid idea in mind, and be able to make it interesting.”
May 2014 biology graduate Georgios Tsissios’ solid idea involved softer surfaces. After attending a tissue regeneration seminar given by Panagiotis Tsonis, director of the University’s Center for Tissue Regeneration and Engineering, Tsissios became a molecular biology devotee. In summer 2013, a Lancaster-McDougall Award allowed him to experiment on the newt, an organism capable of regenerating an entire organ.
“Why do newts have this tremendous capability to regenerate part of their bodies, when other animals don’t? If we figure out the why, maybe one day we can apply this principle to other animals including humans,” Tsissios explained.
Tsissios, like many other Lancaster-McDougall graduates, says the summer research was just a beginning. He returned to UD this fall as a doctoral candidate in biology, where he will join Tsonis in his laboratory.
“At the very moment that I stepped in the laboratory, something changed inside me,” Tsissios said. “More than ever, I was sure that this is the discipline that best suits my ambitions. For the first time, I had to create my own experiment and hypothesis. I never felt more alive in all of my academic years than this time. Without this experience, I would probably have chosen a different career path.”
Michael Moran ’14 (at left, right), a 2012 Lancaster-McDougall recipient, is pursuing a master’s in immunology on his way to medical school, a plan spurred only after he worked on a project examining specific genes in eye development and their effect on Alzheimer’s disease.
Lauren Shewhart ’14 (at left, left) arrived at UD undecided on a major — and left as a mentor for other biology undergradutes. “The honor of winning this award gave me confidence that what I’m doing, other people care about,” she said.
Brittany Demmitt ’11 won a Lancaster-McDougall Award to study the impact of nanoparticles on the gut microbial community, a current hot topic in finding solutions to conditions that don’t have a clear genetic basis, such as diabetes, autism and multiple sclerosis. Today, she continues this research as a graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder.
That’s the beauty of research, Nielsen says. Answering the question isn’t the the end; it’s a jumping off point to keep discovering.
Their favorite Flyers may be a team you’ve never heard of.
Ghetto Force, the University’s men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, has a fan base close to home in their families, whether created by blood or by common bond.
Joel Jira ’69 and his wife, Debbie, for example, are no strangers to UD or its athletics teams. Joel’s father, Joseph Jira ’31, played football for the Flyers for four years and was named to the Small College All-American Team in 1930. The couple’s son, Stephen Jira ’14, carried on the family tradition on a different field.
“Stephen loves Frisbee,” Debbie said, noting that they’ve donated funds to the team since 2009. “He loves the camaraderie with the other players. We often drive to watch him and his team, and team members have stayed at our house when they play nearby.”
Paul Kosmerl ’05 and Emily Puchala Kosmerl ’07 also frequently support the team’s efforts after experiencing firsthand the difficulties of keeping a sports club afloat.
Emily, a former member of the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, remembers how hard it was for the group to fundraise for the team’s many expenses, including travel to and from games. As a graduate looking to give back to UD, she knew where she wanted it directed.
“Traveling to Frisbee tournaments is so fun, and we wanted to make sure that continued,” Emily said. “Paul and I have been in the habit of donating, be it our time or funds, since before we left UD — we have to credit our parents, who taught us well. We feel really grateful for the things we’ve been given, and we know that
we should pay that back or forward when we have the chance.”
The Kosmerls aren’t the only ones; this year, nearly 100 UD alumni and parents have supported
the University through hobbies and interests that match their passions with student needs.
Groups like the student rescue squad, waterski team and math club have also benefitted, allowing
them to buy equipment, offer training and attend conferences. Often, these donors are as mysterious as they are generous.
Alexander Hunton ’14, a member of the University’s aero design team, can’t recall the amount of support
alumni have given his group, but he can tell you exactly how much it has helped.
“With the funds, we’ve purchased materials and aircraft components we wouldn’t have otherwise,”
Hunton said. “Donations have also helped us attend competitions, like the American Institute of Aeronautics
and Astronautics Design, Build, Fly competition, and the Oklahoma State University Speedfest competition, where we placed third last year in our first showing.”
Many people hope to leave a mark on the community through their professions, but few actually do. A new scholarship in the School of Law will thank a local attorney for leaving such an impression.
Public service became Lee Falke’s work when he took a job as assistant prosecuting attorney in Montgomery County, Ohio, nearly 60 years ago. Eight years later, he was elected county prosecutor, a position he held for 27 years. Falke earned respect from constituents, law enforcement and the legal community for his just, fair, diligent and principled leadership.
He served terms as president of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the National District Attorneys Association and, in 1975, established a victim assistance division, one of the first in the country, to help victims of violent crime. Falke has also served as a mentor to young professionals. Many have gone on to distinguished careers as judges, including Dayton Municipal Court Judges Bill Wolff and Carl Henderson, and Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Kessler, who was the longest-serving judge on the court when he retired in 2007.
“Falke is known for his unique hiring practices,” said Larry Lasky ’77, a Dayton attorney who initiated the scholarship. “Many chief prosecutors require employees to be of the same political party. Falke hired someone of either party as long as they could try a case, tell the truth, be kind — and win.”
Lasky worked with Falke for more than 25 years and credits his success to their time spent together.
“Falke is not afraid to do what has to be done. He fired me twice and hired me three times. Altogether, I spent 26 years in his office and became a better lawyer because of it,” Lasky said.
A UD student for three years — long enough to become a two-time letterman in baseball — before transferring to Ohio State his senior year, Falke hired many UD School of Law students throughout his career.
“I tried to hire people who got good grades and seemed like they would be enjoyable to work with. At one time, I felt like I hired more students from UD than anywhere else around because so many of them posessed those traits,” he said.
Being in the spotlight is not something Falke enjoys, but he is honored and humbled to have a scholarship created in his name.
“I hope to use this as an occasion to show my appreciation to some of the people who got me here,” he said. “Also, when I worked as prosecutor, it seemed like many students did not fully appreciate the role of a prosecutor. I hope this scholarship will help students see prosecutors as the lawyers in the white hats, not the black hats.”
Falke’s career is a testament that prosecutors can do a great deal of good, something Lasky knows and others see, too.
“Falke made me a much better lawyer than I would have been on the street or on my own,” Lasky said. “His office had a very collegial atmosphere that taught people a lot and allowed them to do great things. I wanted him to see just how many lives he’s touched.”
Nearly half of the lawyers Falke employed who have held or currently hold public office also have a UD connection:
Hon. Sharon Ovington ’81 (LAW) – U.S. District Court
Hon. Barbara Pugliese Gorman ’74 (PSY) & ’77 (LAW) – Montgomery County Common Pleas Court
Hon. John Kessler – adjunct professor, UD School of Law
Hon. Dennis Langer – part-time faculty, UD School of Law
Hon. Judith Bene King ’69 (SOC) & ’77 (LAW) – Domestic Relations Court
Hon. Nick Kuntz Jr. ’65 (PMT) – Juvenile Court
The late Hon. James Cannon ’78 (LAW) – Dayton Municipal Court
Paul Roderer Sr. ’64 (HST) – Dayton City Commission
Mark Owens ’81 (LAW) – City of Dayton, Clerk of Courts
Married 63 years, Frederick J. and Marian A. Kroger were friends to the end, only briefly parted by death in January 2013.
When they died — just six days apart — their legacy was already large: faith, family, service and generosity. It grew even larger when the Krogers’ five children gathered to decide how to designate the trust their parents committed to the University in 1997.
“My parents were always devoted to God, family and country,” said Tim Kroger, who is a partner in Main Line Supply, the company started in 1955 by his father, a 1947 mechanical engineering graduate who came to UD after serving in World War II. Having escaped from a German prisoner-of-war camp late in the war, Kroger committed in gratitude to serving others for the rest of his life — and he did.
“He volunteered for everything,” Tim Kroger said. “Parish Council; the Knights of Columbus; St. Vincent de Paul; and the Inca Ball, which raised funds for missions in Central and South America. He would visit people in jail, and as far back as I can remember, they sponsored children in poverty around the world. They were involved with the Glenmary mission and the Marianists, and somehow, he came to all of our sporting events, too, all while growing Main Line Supply.”
Mrs. Kroger, an “extremely diligent wife and mother,” was a model of devotion to family and Catholic education, and their devotion to one another never faltered, Tim Kroger said. In their last days together at hospice, they shared a room, and the staff turned their beds so they could see each other.
“They sent all of us to Catholic schools, and they helped send all 16 of their grandkids to college,” Tim Kroger said. “The Catholic faith was very important to them, and they loved the University of Dayton.”
In tribute to the Krogers’ commitment to the University, to their faith and to Chaminade Julienne, the Marianist high school all of their children attended, Tim Kroger and his siblings — Anne Shock, Mary Helldoerfer, Mark Kroger and Pat Kroger — directed their parents’ gift to two initiatives: a new scholarship for UD-bound students from area Marianist high schools; and the upcoming renovation of the University’s Immaculate Conception Chapel.
“Our parents had the foresight to give to UD and CJ and various churches in the area, and one of their last requests of their children was to please continue this,” Tim Kroger said. “Their scholarship fund at UD will continue to grow.”
A good plan
For decades, planned giving has been an important foundation of the University of Dayton’s advancement, providing students with outstanding academic programs, world-renowned faculty, scholarships and state-of-the-art facilities. A planned gift is more than an act of generosity; it’s a demonstration of faith in the University — and the University of Dayton is grateful and honored to be entrusted with it.
The University received more than $3 million from planned gifts in 2012-13, and new planned gift commitments surpassed $5 million. Among those gifts was that of lifelong Daytonians and longtime University benefactors Frederick J. and Marian A. Kroger.
When University of Dayton biology professor Robert Schuellein ’44 got an offer to work at the National Institutes of Health in 1963, he had to make a difficult choice between two things at which he excelled: teaching and research.
Research won; Schuellein left the University and the Marianist order, took the job at NIH and stayed there until his retirement in 1983.
But he never forgot UD and the legacy he started here: With his faculty colleague and fellow Marianist Paul Machowicz ’41, Schuellein helped create the first master’s program in the College of Arts and Sciences. When Schuellein died in 2011 at the age of 91, he added to that legacy — with a bequest totaling $2.5 million for a faculty research endowment in biology.
A questionnaire for his 50th class reunion in 1994 gave an indication of the pride he took in the work he did. Asked to name his most significant experience at UD, Schuellein answered, “Attending the defense of my graduate student for the M.S. degree in biology — the first M.S. degree conferred at UD.”
That student was Henry Maimon ’64.
“There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to describe what a fine and wonderful gentleman Rob- ert Schuellein was,” said Maimon, who later earned a medical degree from the University of Cincinnati and ran the gastroenterology department at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Dayton for 26 years. “I feel I owe him a debt of gratitude in helping me get through that degree.”
Maimon had already earned a bachelor’s in English from Princeton University, but he chose to pursue medicine or research instead. Schuellein became both a mentor and a role model.
“He worked hard to make very difficult subject matter clear,” Maimon said. “He tried to cultivate the best in whatever abilities a student had. He could evoke your brain to think a little more and work a little harder.”
George Noland, who came to UD’s biology department in 1955 and became chair in 1963, said Schuellein took measures beyond what was typical to ensure that his students grasped the material.
“But he was a born researcher, and witha born researcher, you’d have to cut off his hands to keep him from it,” Noland said. “Teaching a full load and getting a research lab established at the same time is a horrendous burden. It’s almost impossible to do both, but a born researcher will do it.”
Schuellein knew that funding would make a major difference, Noland said.
“With the teaching load and everything he did for the Marianists, there were just not enough hours in the day for the research,” Noland said. “When Schuellein came in, there were no laboratory assistants. The faculty members had to do all the prep work themselves. A little money makes it possible to maybe teach one less course or hire a student assistant for a class or hire research assistants in the lab.”
Schuellein’s gift also included more than 2,000 projection slides.
“I remember when he started that collection,” Noland said. “You can’t believe what we worked with in those days. My budget for materials in 1963 was $50. If you had a slide projector in the department, it was a big deal. In those days, people didn’t just order slides. They were expensive. He was serious enough about his teaching that he assembled these materials because he knew it would help the students learn.”
Patricia S. Bryant, a retired program di- rector at NIH, worked with Schuellein during the 1970s and ’80s.
“He was a very warm and giving person, a very humble guy,” Bryant said. “His passion was training researchers for the future … building a pipeline of scientists who could make the important breakthroughs.”
It’s fitting, she said, that his legacy gift is now supporting scientists and research.
“If you’d say he was an advocate in his own quiet way for anything, it would be that.”
Additional sources for this story included Renate Myles, acting chief of NIH’s news media branch; Brother Bernard Zalewski, S.M. ’58; Eliot B. Spiess; Dr. Marie Nylen; and George McGowan ’63. Read more thoughts from Schuellein’s colleagues here.
When University of Dayton biology professor Robert Schuellein ’44 got an offer to work at the National Institutes of Health in 1963, he had to make a difficult choice between two things at which he excelled: teaching and research. (Read more here.)
Research won; Schuellein left the University and the Marianist order, took the job at NIH and stayed there until his retirement in 1983.
But Schuellein, who died in 2011 at the age of 91, never forgot UD. In his estate, he gave $2.5 million to the University for a faculty research endowment in biology. A story appears in the Autumn 2013 issue of University of Dayton Magazine. Here are some additional comments provided about Dr. Schuellein and his work.
Geneticist Eliot B. Spiess of Winnetka, Ill., was Schuellein’s doctoral adviser at the University of Pittsburgh. Now retired from teaching, Spiess is a professor emeritus of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “He was my first graduate student,” Spiess said. “He was a wonderful person, very conscientious and just did a lot of hard work. He was quiet and humble, not attention-seeking at all. He did a lot of teaching before he came to me; we were investigating chromosomal anomalies in drosophila.”
Bernard Zalewski, S.M., a 1958 biology graduate, recalled his fellow Marianist as a man who excelled at both teaching and research: “I knew him as a brother,” Zalewski said. “He tried to convince me to get a Ph.D. and come teach at UD. I did come back to teach, but in the School of Business. … He enjoyed teaching; this was a difficult decision for him. But he liked teaching enough to draw me into it.”
George McGowan, a 1963 biology graduate who lives in Waynesville, Ohio, remembers Schuellein’s teaching well: “In the genetics lab, that’s where we dealt with all the fruit flies. I remember one time a plague of fruit flies that got loose. There were just thousands of them. … Dr. Schuellein was very nice, very easy to talk with, and always had a good sense of humor. Among college students, he just really wanted people to understand. … Dr. Schuellein stood out in the science area. I was not the best student he had, but I really enjoyed his class.”
George Noland, a biology professor who became chair of the department in 1963, maintained contact with Schuellein after he left: “When I would go to Washington, I would visit him, so I saw him two or three times in the first couple years he was up there,” Noland said. “He lived simply, and he was a stickler for detail.”
Patricia S. Bryant, Ph.D., a retired program director at NIH, worked with Schuellein during the 1970s and ’80s. Besides being “a beautiful person and a treasured colleague,” she said, he was an advocate for science: “He was helping to build an environment where scientists stay in science. Clinicians are well-rewarded in private practice, so that is an option for people after they’ve had their scientific training; if continuity of funding is a problem, you may lose scientists to private practice. He wanted an infrastructure that continues to value science and a pipeline of people who maintain their commitment to science.”
A beloved chemistry professor who taught almost every doctor, dentist and scientist in UD’s alumni ranks from the 1950s through the 1980s is making a difference today to hundreds more.
In 2001, a year after chemistry professor Carl I. Michaelis died, the University received a remarkable bequest of $1.7 million — part of the estate he’d built with a modest salary, a life lived simply and an investment portfolio that he added to but never subtracted from.
Ten years ago, 16 students received the first awards from Michaelis’ endowed fund. Since then, it’s yielded 251 scholarships totaling more than $622,000.
“He was a very frugal man,” said longtime colleague Al Fratini, professor emeritus of chemistry. “He knew he wanted to give something big to UD, and he lived in a way that would make him able to do that.” Michaelis was an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal, Fratini said, and when he read of advances in chemistry that looked promising, he invested.
“Students liked him,” said chemistry professor Jerry Keil, who worked with Michaelis for almost 20 years. “He always had students in his office. He would help them with their schedules, but also with their professional goals, what they needed to do to achieve them.”
Michaelis also was a mentor for new faculty members and the faculty adviser to the student chapters of the American Chemical Society and the national premedical honor society Alpha Epsilon Delta.
“He was here all the time,” said Howard Knachel, chemistry professor emeritus. “He was gifted in being able to spot a student’s potential. His attitude toward students was always positive and supportive, but he was tough.”
Michaelis seldom splurged on himself, Keil said.
“On occasion, some of us would go to Frisch’s after Mass at Holy Angels,” Keil said. “Carl liked to get a pancake breakfast, and at that time, you could get a pancake breakfast at Frisch’s for $1.19. At Denny’s on Main Street, the same breakfast was $1.29, but he thought it was a little bit nicer there, so if he had a dime to spare, he would go to Denny’s instead.”
On limited occasion, he took financial advice from others.
“He didn’t have a house until the early 1970s,” Knachel said. “For the longest time, he just rented an upstairs room in a house where someone took boarders, and he was happy. But then Joe Walsh (another professor, now deceased) asked him, ‘Carl, what are you saving all that money for? Someday you’re going to die and never have enjoyed it.’”
But he seemed to enjoy it just fine, said Fratini, Keil and Knachel — carrying around the secret that, someday, all that money was going to do something big.