Prof. Emeritus Richard Schuler, economics and civil and environmental engineering, who used his dual background to guide energy and infrastructure programs in Thailand and the Philippines, died on Feb. 13 at age 81.
A Cornell faculty member since 1972, Schuler was an active leader in the Cornell community, serving as director for the Institute for Public Affairs and the Waste Management Institute and the NYS Solid Waste Combustion Institute. He served on Cornell’s board of trustees for four years and on the Faculty Senate for nearly 20.
Erik Thorbecke, former chairman of the Department of Economics at Cornell and one of Schuler’s best friends, described Schuler as “always thoughtful and methodical … whenever there was a problem looming in the horizon, he would always try to find a constructive solution.”
In his own research, Schuler studied the management and pricing of infrastructure and utilities, as well as their economic and environmental impact. His work in the field has included the evolution and deregulation of the electric energy industry.
Schuler was “a wonderful human being,” Thorbecke said. “I don’t know anybody who would be more willing to help you when you needed it. He was always there for you. He was a genuine human being … he really cared for other people.”
Schuler was well known as an excellent supervisor and had a great reputation among graduate students who did research with him, Thorbecke said.
Before becoming a professor, Schuler worked for the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company as an engineer and as an energy economist at the Battelle Memorial Institute. He spent two years as the deputy commissioner of the New York Public Service Commission and was a founding board member of the New York Independent System Operator for 13 years.
An Allentown, Pennsylvania native, Schuler studied electrical engineering at Yale University before receiving his MBA from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. in economics from Brown University.
Schuler is survived by his wife Mary, three children and seven grandchildren.