Thursday June 6, 2013

Gifts for Research

A $2.5 million bequest of a graduate and former biology department professor will go toward supporting faculty research.

The University has received gifts totaling $2.5 million from the estate of a University of Dayton alumnus who helped found the University's biology graduate program.

Robert J. Schuellein, who died in 2011 at the age of 91, made the gifts to support biology faculty research through an endowed chair.

In a 1998 letter notifying the University of his bequest, Schuellein said he was making the gifts, in part, because strong faculty research supports continued academic excellence and helps attract better students.

"Through his influential career at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Schuellein observed the critical importance of support for faculty research, to advance scientific understanding as well as strengthen the mentoring of students who will become our future scientific leaders," said Paul Benson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"Dr. Schuellein's generous gift helps confirm that first-rate research and education in the biological sciences will continue to be a central component of the University of Dayton's academic reputation."

Schuellein, at the time a Marianist brother, graduated from the University in 1944 with a degree in biology. After earning his doctorate and a master's at the University of Pittsburgh, he returned to Dayton in the late 1950s to teach and help establish the graduate program in biology; he mentored several of the first graduates from the program.  

Former University president Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M., remembered Schuellein for his teaching skills and his passion for research.

"He was truly an outstanding teacher and also had a keen interest in the importance of biological research and how it enhanced the learning process for undergraduate students," Fitz said.

Schuellein left the University in 1964 to join the National Institutes of Health, where he served in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Dental Research, overseeing research grant administration and training programs until his retirement in 1983.

Schuellein also donated more than 2,000 slides to the biology department. The slides, depicting general biology and human genetics concepts, were prepared and used by him during his years of teaching.

Since established in the early 1960s, the biology program has graduated 262 master's and doctoral students.

For more information, contact Cilla Shindell, executive director of news and communications, at 937-229-3257 or

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