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Rosita Schiller wearing a blue blazer with a crossApril 24, 2024

With reverence and admiration for a life well-lived, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and Division of Medical Dietetics is sad to share the news of the recent death of one of the most influential leaders in the Dietetics profession.

Sister Mary Rosita, RSM, (nee Margaret Anne) Schiller, RDN, FAND, a Sister of Mercy for 68 years, died at the age of 87 on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at St. Mary's Hospital in Michigan.

Dr. Rosita Schiller served as director of Medical Dietetics at The Ohio State University's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (formerly the School of Allied Medical Professions) from 1978-2003. According to those who knew her, this was only the beginning of her vast influence on the profession.

“I cannot begin to tell you the number of people who have said to me, if it were not for Dr. Schiller, I would not be where I am now,” said Kay N. Wolf, PhD, senior vice provost for Academic Leadership at Ohio State and ’79 graduate of the Medical Dietetics program. “Rosita was kind, caring, wicked smart, fun, funny, visionary, patient, futuristic and the most influential person in my professional life.”

As one of the most influential leaders in the Dietetics profession, Schiller transformed dietetics education. She envisioned educating students through the coordinated dietetics model and set the standard for excellence, creating the best program in America. She never stopped looking for ways to make it better.

“She was a tireless mentor to both faculty members and students,” said Dr. Wolf. “And she pushed the glass ceiling and found every opportunity to help students and faculty raise their level of practice.”

According to Colleen Spees, PhD, MEd, Dr. Schiller's legacy in the field of medical dietetics is a “true testament to her unwavering dedication, nutrition expertise and remarkable leadership.” Dr. Spees added, “she shaped the minds of future professionals and revolutionized the landscape of dietetic education and practice.”

Dr. Schiller was also known as Sister Mary Rosita. At 16, she joined the Sisters of Mercy, an order of Catholic nuns dedicated to service. She pursued a career in dietetics and education, completing her bachelor's degree at Mercy College of Detroit, master’s degree at Michigan State University and her PhD at Ohio State, studying leadership, quality management and dietetics education.

Dr. Schiller was a prolific researcher and author, writing more than 60 articles, book chapters and books. According to Dr. Wolf, she extended this work internationally, changing many countries’ standards for the profession.

Even after her retirement in 2003 as Professor Emerita, Rosita continued her commitment to advancing the field as an educator, researcher and leader.

Dr. Rosita Schiller posing with Jeff LaubertJeff Laubert, RDN, CD, (pictured with Rosita Schiller) was “honored to receive Dr. Schiller’s scholarship.” But her influence went beyond her support of his education. While sitting at a table at FNCE in 2017, he overheard the name “Rosita.” After confirming she was Rosita Schiller, he introduced himself as a recipient of her scholarship. “She was incredibly welcoming and genuinely happy to learn about my experiences in the program and goals for my career in dietetics,” Laubert said.

He was touched to receive a graduation card in the mail. Dr. Schiller read about the research he was conducting in Dr. Spees’s lab through a story on Ohio State’s website. “She wrote that she was proud of the work I had done,” Laubert said. “It had a huge impact on me. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to meet her and know that I’m just one of many students that she’s supported over the years."

Dr. Schiller continued her service with the Sisters of Mercy following her retirement from Ohio State, working with the Saint Mary's Foundation, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She worked as grants specialist, helping raise millions of dollars to support vulnerable patients. She served on the hospital’s board of trustees, chaired its Quality Committee, and served on its Community Health and Well-Being Committee. On the Trinity Health Nutrition Advisory Council, she helped develop standards for nutrition services at 92 hospitals nationwide.

Beyond her dietetics work, she promoted literacy in young children through Mercy’s Reach Out and Read program, served on the board of the Ohio State Alumni Club of West Michigan and read regularly for Sunday Televised Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.

Throughout her illustrious career, Dr. Schiller served many boards and garnered numerous accolades, including the prestigious Medallion Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Beyond her work to help people and promote dietetics education, Schiller had an “adventurous spirit,” and visited all 50 states.

“Beyond travel, she spread joy and goodwill with her heartfelt messages, especially in her annual Christmas cards sent to friends and colleagues around the world,” said Dr. Spees. “Rosita’s legacy of kindness, mentorship and adventure will continue to inspire and uplift those who had the privilege of knowing her.”


Dr. Schiller's Obituary

Make a memorial contribution to the M. Rosita Schiller Scholarship Fund