Professor Don Schuele has illuminated the physics of the universe (and baseball) for generations of Case students. He’ll receive the Meritorious Service Award at Homecoming 2019.

To talk physics with Professor Don Schuele, PhD ’63, is to talk about wind, sports, life, the universe and how it all amazingly works.

What pitch can a batter hit farther, a fastball or a curveball? If you know the laws of physics, Schuele says, you understand why it’s a curveball.

How do you measure the electrical properties of layered polymers? That’s what he’s working on now, having never stopped questioning.

At a university renowned for its physics, Schuele stands tall. He served Case Institute of Technology—and later Case Western Reserve University—as teacher, researcher, administrator and dean. Though he retired years ago as the Albert Michelson Professor of Physics, Schuele still maintains a lab on campus, where he guides young scientists toward new discoveries.

For faithful and brilliant service to Case, Schuele will receive a Meritorious Service Award at Homecoming 2019.

“It’s an honor,” said Schuele, a member of the Case family for 60 years. “In my job as an administrator, the alumni association was extremely helpful.”

He said he loved the he could send a financially-struggling student to the office of the Case Alumni Association, knowing staff would try to help. Or, that he could show up himself and argue the need for a new lab.

Schuele came to CIT from the faculty of John Carroll University in 1959 to earn his doctorate in physics and stayed on to teach. Over the next 40 years, he served the school in an array of leadership roles, including department chair and two tours as dean.

But he looks back most fondly on his years as a classroom professor.

“Students at Case were always very good,” Schuele said. “To interact with these students was fun.”

He helped to make it so. To explain the genius of the Michelson-Morley Experiment, Schuele built a life-sized model that stands today in the lobby of Schmitt Auditorium.

An avid sports fan, he often uses examples from the sporting world to teach physics and to generate interest in science.

“The laws of physics produce the laws of sports,” he says. “Theoretically, you can hit a curveball farther because of the spin, the fluid dynamics. A lot of people don’t know that.”

In the 1980s, he helped to bring science to U.S. Olympic teams, which were losing to Eastern European rivals with better equipment, sleeker bobsleds and faster luges. Schuele helped to enhance the U.S. game as a leading member of the Sports Equipment Technology Committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Meanwhile, he and his wife, Clare, raised six children. Schuele enjoys the company of 13 grandchildren and two great grandchildren—as well as the students who still look to him for guidance.

At his campus lab, he presides over two research projects, exploring physical mysteries that still challenge and fascinate him.

“Nature’s a lot of fun,” he said. “If you do an experiment, and it doesn’t work out, you have to stand back and ask, "What is nature trying to tell me?”




Help us congratulate Professor Schuele at Homecoming 2019. He’ll be honored at the
Innovation ShowCASE at Sears think[box] Friday October 11.