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Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Richard E. Stryker

John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs and Studies -- Founders Day 2007

Professor Emeritus
Department of Political Science
College of Arts and Sciences
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU faculty, 1970
B.A., University of California, Riverside, 1962
M.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 1964
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1970

In the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Richard Stryker spent most of his time on the phone, making hundreds of calls to overseas study host programs, IU students overseas, and concerned parents. Stryker didn't rest until every student felt informed, cared for, and safe.

Richard Stryker

Richard Stryker

Print-Quality Photo

Ten years earlier, there would not have been so many calls to make. Stryker's devotion to overseas study during his 14 years (1989-2003) as executive associate dean of international programs and director of overseas study generated a breadth of opportunities for students matched by few universities. Under his direction, the number of IU students studying abroad and the number of IU overseas programs quadrupled, while their quality consistently improved.

Tim Tilton, professor of political science at IU, wrote that Stryker's "unbridled enthusiasm persuaded students that study abroad would change their lives—and it did. His mentoring transformed them." Susan Sutton, associate dean for international programs at IUPUI, added that "the national prominence of IU in the field of study abroad is directly attributable to Dick Stryker. What is all the more remarkable is that he chose to spread the growth of overseas study to all eight campuses."

As his colleagues and students attest, there is no truer believer in the importance of study abroad to a well-rounded education. "One couldn't ask for a stronger advocate nor better ambassador for the importance of overseas study," said former IU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kumble Subbaswamy. Stryker's long list of new and expanded programs includes the first exchange agreements with top Australian universities, the inventive Beatles in London program with IU Professor of Music Glenn Gass, and the nationally renowned Bologna Consortial Studies Program, which Stryker continues to manage in his retirement.

For three years Stryker also served as national chairperson of the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), one of the leading study abroad provider organizations in the United States, with over 150 member universities. In 2003, he was awarded the IES Lifetime Achievement Award, a notable distinction in the field of study abroad. In the award speech, Hugo Sonnenschein, former president of the University of Chicago and IES board member, said that Stryker had been a leader "who is a master of liberal education, who understands the values of liberal education, and who is thoroughly committed to those values." The president of IES, Mary Dwyer, added that "without a question Stryker ran the most effective and efficient study abroad office in the U.S." In the same year, he received the IU Distinguished International Service Award.

His dedication to his administrative role in overseas study was matched only by his dedication to teaching. A faculty member in the Department of Political Science for 33 years (1970-2003), Stryker created new courses on developing nations, poverty and hunger in India and Africa, and third-world political economy, and gave his students "a strong sense of the moral dimension of contemporary politics," said Tilton. "An exceptional number of them regarded Dick not only as an outstanding teacher, but as the best they ever had."

In 1990, Stryker received the IU President's Distinguished Teaching Award, which described him as "a social scientist of passionate concern for the poor. Departing students regularly cite him as the outstanding teacher of their college experience. Not only does Stryker care a lot about the subjects he teaches and teach about them with contagious conviction, but he knows a lot about them and is able to convey his knowledge to his students." Published widely in academic journals, Stryker contributed to scholarly and public understanding of the African economic crisis, development problems in the third world, and world food policy. His later scholarship focused on international education and study abroad.

"It is his nature to selflessly give the full realm of his talents and attention to the task at hand," said Carolyn Lipson-Walker, assistant director for programming and academic advisor for the IU Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program. "Dick enhanced all that he touched, while enriching those who had the pleasure to work with him. He is praiseworthy and a treasure for our university." In retirement, Stryker is continuing his commitment to the university and to his colleagues as director of IU's new Emeriti House.