To succeed J. Roscoe Miller, Northwestern again looked within its own ranks, selecting Robert Strotz as its thirteenth president. During his tenure, Strotz saw the school through a period of continued growth and rising prominence.
An Illinois native, Robert Henry Strotz spent two years at Duke University before completing his Bachelor's degree in economics at the University of Chicago in 1942. He then served three years in army intelligence during World War II, including a period as an economist-statistician in Berlin, estimating necessary food imports to feed the German population. In Europe for a time following the war, he studied at major centers of econometric research in the Netherlands, England and Sweden on a Rockefeller Foundation grant. He returned to the University of Chicago for his Ph.D., after which he taught for a time at the University of Illinois at Chicago-Navy Pier.
Strotz first joined the Northwestern economics department as an instructor in 1947, and rose to a professorship by 1958. Within the department he specialized in economic theory and econometrics. From 1966 to 1970 he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. It was from this role that he ascended to the presidency following J. Roscoe Miller's transition to Chancellor.
During his tenure as president, Northwestern saw the continuation of the growth that began under Miller, notably the construction of the Norris student center, a health sciences building on the Chicago campus, Leverone Hall, the Allen Center, Pick-Staiger concert hall, and seven South Campus dormitories. Strotz also oversaw an overhaul of admissions policies to eliminate certain restrictions and promote a more diverse student body, expanding total minority enrollment from twelve to twenty percent. Strotz was instrumental in attracting financial support and doubled the value of the school's endowment. This did not distract his attention from the quality of academics, however, as he encouraged faculty research and saw Northwestern become, as former chairman of the board of trustees Thomas Ayers described it, "a first-rate research university."
Despite his successes, Strotz faced significant challeneges as president. The economic slowdown of the late 1970s caused budgetary woes for Northwestern by the early 1980s. Under instructions from the board of trustees to balance the school's budget, the administration declined any faculty salary increases in 1982. The resultant ire led faculty to threaten a vote for Strotz's resignation, but eventually, after detailed long-range plans were put forth, the motion was dropped. Though the student unrest of the 1970s proved a turbulent time in American universities, Strotz maintained a steady hand on the wheel and, through small concessions and meetings with student groups, avoided the extreme conflict that afflicted many other schools.
In addition to his service to the University, Strotz was involved in numerous outside publications, acting as editor of Econometrica and Contributions to Economics Analysis, associate editor of the International Economic Review, and special editor of the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. He also was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a director of six publically traded companies in diverse industries and sat on the board of directors of the National Merit Scholarship fund.
Strotz decided to retire at age 61, but followed in Miller's footsteps, continuing on as Chancellor until 1990. He died four years later at age 72 after a long illness.
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