John R. Strassburger, former dean and vice president

September 24, 2010

John Strassburger, photo courtesy Ursinus CollegeJohn R. Strassburger, president emeritus of Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and former dean and vice president of Knox College, died Wednesday, September 22. He was 68.

Strassburger served as professor of history, dean of the college, and executive vice president of Knox from 1984 until 1994, when he became president of Ursinus. He retired from Ursinus this past June 30 for health reasons.

"On behalf of all of us at Knox College, I offer condolences to John's wife, Trudy, John's family, and all of his colleagues at Ursinus College," said Knox College President Roger L. Taylor.

Faculty at Knox remained friends with Strassburger and recall his leadership in encouraging and expanding undergraduate research, which today is a mainstay of the Knox experience.

Rodney Davis, professor emeritus of history and co-director of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College, noted that "while he served Knox at a challenging time, John Strassburger was a strong supporter of academic standards and of faculty and student research."

Professor of Political Science Robert Seibert notes that Strassburger "was a strong advocate of liberal education in the classic sense of the term, and was able to demonstrate the value of liberal education in a technical age."

A statement issued when he left Knox to take the helm at Ursinus in 1995 praised Strassburger's leadership in the renovation of the Henry Seymour Library as "crucial in giving Knox one of the finest small-college libraries in the country."

According to Lane Sunderland, a political science professor and long-time friend of Strassburger, "John was a friend to many at Knox when he was Dean of the College. He was known for his hand-written personal notes of congratulations, his helping open doors of opportunity for faculty, and his good cheer. He will be remembered as a good, thoughtful and talented man, and he will be deeply missed."

Strassburger earned his undergraduate degree from Bates College, master's degree from Cambridge University and Ph.D. from Princeton University. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Tohoku Gakuin University in Japan.

Prior to his tenure at Knox, Strassburger taught at Hiram College and was acting assistant director and program officer for Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in Recognition of Superior Achievement.

Strassburger served as Chair of the Board of the Council of Independent Colleges and on the boards of the American Academic Leadership Institute, the American Council on Education, the President's Council of Project Pericles and the Lenfest Foundation.

Strassburger is survived by his wife Gertrude Mackie Strassburger, daughters Sarah and Trudy, two grandchildren, sister Martha Barr and brother Gus Strassburger.

Memorials may be made to the John and Trudy Strassburger Scholarship Fund or to the Annual Fund Challenge at the Ursinus College Advancement Office, Collegeville, PA, 19426.