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CEAS Emeritus Professor Shell Passes Away at Age 81

Richard Shell, the only professor in UC history to hold professorships in three colleges and a promoter of interdisciplinary research, passed away on June 26.

Date: 10/7/2015
By: Shannon Frohme
Other Contact: Ashley Duvelius
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-9181
Richard Shell, CEAS Emeritus Professor
Richard Shell, CEAS Emeritus Professor

Richard Shell first arrived to teach at the University of Cincinnati in 1970, bringing positivity and forward thinking to multiple colleges. Prior to his arrival at UC, he spent over a decade in the manufacturing and material management industries, as well as design and industrial engineering. His truest passion, nonetheless, was engaging with and teaching his students. Richard Shell was the only professor in UC’s 195-year history to hold professorships in the Lindner College of Business, the College Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Medicine.

Born on Jan. 29, 1934, in Knoxville, Iowa, Shell spent the majority of his career in Cincinnati, and his later years residing in Wesley Chapel, Florida, with his wife and three children. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Virginia Koopman Shell, two sons — Rich and Sonney Shell — daughter Helen, two grandchildren and their families.

Shell’s educational background extended from Moline Community College in Moline, Illinois, where he received his first degree in 1958 — an Associate in Arts — and also completing pre-engineering requirements before transferring to University of Iowa (UIOWA). Three years later in 1961, Shell received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from UIOWA. In 1963, he went on to receive his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from University of Kentucky, and obtained a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1970.

Richard Shell (left) with Ernest Hall (right) at the Cincinnati Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Fellows Ceremony in November 8, 1998
Richard Shell (left) with Ernest Hall (right) at the Cincinnati Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Fellows Ceremony in November 8, 1998

In the same year, Shell began what would be a 35-year career in academia as an associate professor of management at Lindner College of Business, formerly known as the College of Business Administration. In 1973, Shell became the department head of management. Extending his passion for teaching to other colleges, Shell became a distinguished professor of environmental health, as well as the director of the ERC Occupational Safety Program at the College of Medicine in 1985.

“Richard Shell, PhD, a promoter of interdisciplinary research, was notably recognized for his effort in 1985 upon receiving a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) grant to incorporate occupational safety and health engineering in the College of Medicine’s NIOSH Educational Research Center (ERC),” wrote Dean Teik C. Lim.

It goes without saying that Shell’s paramount gift lay in his tremendous concern and dedication toward the success and achievement of his students. His drive and belief for the diverse alliance of knowledge across industries led him to implement and teach the industrial engineering program from 1975 to 1990. He was responsible for the initial planning, development and on-going administration of the industrial engineering undergraduate and graduate programs. During his 35 years with CEAS, he directly contributed to nearly 1,000 B.S., 250 M.S. and 30 PhD industrial engineering degrees at the University of Cincinnati.

A comprehensive reference for industrial engineers co-edited by Richard Shell and Ernest Hall
A comprehensive reference for industrial engineers co-edited by Richard Shell and Ernest Hall

Ernest Hall, former Paul E. Geier Professor of Robotics in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, reflects upon the distinguished work of his friend and close colleague, Richard Shell, “He was consistently recognized for having the highest concern for his students. Dr. Shell was also the first professor from the College of Engineering and Applied Science to receive the Barbour Award for student-faculty relations.” Hall, who is now an Emeritus Professor of Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering, co-edited the “Handbook of Industrial Automation,” with Shell, copyrighted in 2000.

Additionally, Shell was a major contributor to the initial planning, funding and start-up of Techsolve, formerly known as Institute of Advanced Manufacturing Sciences (IAMS). He was the principal author for Techsolve’s $4.1M State of Ohio Edison Grant.

Bettie Hall, wife of Ernest Hall, alumna of the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services and a dear friend of the Shells, remarks on Richard’s most distinguished traits, “Perhaps his most outstanding attribute was his tactful ability to effectively communicate and relate to all levels and types of individuals. He was one of the most personable individuals I have known, and will be greatly missed amongst the community and the many he helped.”

Along with authoring, co-authoring and editing more than 200 books, book chapters and journal articles, Shell was a member of many professional societies and committees, including:
  • American Institute of Industrial Engineers Phil Carroll Award for Outstanding Achievement in work measurement and methods engineering, 1978
  • Engineers and Scientists of Cincinnati Distinguished Engineer of the Year Award, 1986
  • Fellow of Institute of Industrial Engineers, 1988
  • Director of the Material Handling and Management Society
  • Fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers
  • Principal Investigator for Industrial Engineering and Occupational Safety Graduate Training and Research, 1985-2000
In keeping with the family’s wishes and in lieu of flowers, alumni and friends are invited to make memorial contributions to the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Memorial gifts may be made through this secure on-line giving site or by mail, with checks made payable to the UC Foundation in Memory of Richard L. Shell and sent to the following address:

University of Cincinnati Foundation;
P.O. Box 19970
Cincinnati, OH 45219-0970

For more information, please contact Susan Berman at or call 513-556-6271.