Historical image of three people on a beach with surveying equipment.

State Rep. Sidney Bazett (left), Professor Robert Schultz, and Gov. Tom McCall on Rockaway Beach in 1967.

Professor Robert “Bob” Schultz retired at the close of 2018 after teaching for 56 years at Oregon State University.

As his accomplishments and numerous awards for contributions to surveying education reflect – such as the SaGES Career Recognition Award, the ASCE Surveying and Mapping Award, the Richard M. Bressler Senior Faculty Teaching Award, and more – Schultz is the quintessential overachiever.

Schultz joined Oregon State in the fall of 1962 as an assistant professor after earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1955 and 1960. In college, he excelled in academics and athletics, earning a dozen varsity letters in football, baseball, and basketball. As a senior, he captained the basketball team.

At Oregon State, he received promotions to associate and full professor in 1965 and 1970. From 1970 to 1976, he taught evening courses at Linn-Benton Community College in addition to his regular teaching duties. But one of his most notable accomplishments came in 1967 with the passage of the Oregon Beach Bill.

“The general public has benefited significantly from his expertise,” said Michael Olsen, associate professor of geomatics.

After a long battle with private interests, Gov. Tom McCall signed the bill, which granted the general public recreational access to the state’s beaches.

“Professor Schultz was one of the critical people who figured out the methodology of how to appropriately define that boundary to make the beaches public,” Olsen said.

Schultz was instrumental in the legal interpretation of the bill, which determined the boundary between private and public lands on the Oregon coast. For more than half a century, Schultz taught almost every student in civil and construction engineering at Oregon State and infused his classes with the same hustle and precision he displayed on the court.

“One of the things that impressed me early on about Professor Schultz was his concern for students and that they understand the content,” Olsen said. “It’s easy to make mistakes in computations, so he emphasized that’s it’s critical to always check your work.” 

“I hear from many alumni about how much they learned from Professor Schultz both in his class and in the field,” said Jason Weiss, head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering and the Miles Lowell and Margaret Watt Edwards Distinguished Chair in Engineering. “We are thankful that he has been so dedicated to the students of our school.”

In addition to traditional university courses, Schultz taught professional workshops on various surveying topics for practicing surveyors and engineers.

“Professor Schultz was one of the critical people who figured out the methodology of how to appropriately define that boundary to make the beaches public,” Olsen said.

“Almost all registered land surveyors in Oregon have attended at least one of his workshops or classes,” Olsen said. “His survey law workshop helped many prepare for and pass the professional land surveyor and Oregon state-specific surveying exams.”

Schultz served as a member of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Engineering Accreditation Commission and is a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, National Society of Professional Engineers, and Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon.

On April 11, the accolades for Schultz continued when he received the Dennis Marker Teacher of the Year award at the 48th annual Contractors Night.

“Professor Schultz is a true OSU legend,” Weiss said. “He made a significant contribution to Oregon State for over 56 years, and we wish him well in retirement.”


View a video on Professor Schultz's legacy at Oregon State.


New fund honors Professor Robert Schultz

In recognition of Professor Schultz’s legendary service to Oregon State, a grateful alumnus established the Robert J. Schultz Geomatics Endowment Fund, which supports geomatics education and research in the College of Engineering’s School of Civil and Construction Engineering. Contributions to this new fund can be made at osufoundation.org.

– Johanna Carson, Civil and Construction Engineering News, Spring 2019