Frederick Strobel, who taught economics and business administration at Kalamazoo College for two decades (1974-1994), died on December 22, 2016. He was 79 years old.
Born and reared in Quincy, Massachusetts, Fred earned a bachelor’s degree (accounting) and M.B.A. from Northeastern University, and he earned his master’s degree (economics) and Ph.D. (economics) from Clark University. He served as a lecturer at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Clark University, and he was a professor of economics for three years at Holy Cross College. Prior to joining K’s faculty he served as senior business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. At K Fred was the Stephen B. Monroe Professor of Money and Banking. In that position he developed meaningful relationships with the executives in the banking industry, and he planned and presented the annual Monroe Seminar on campus. That day-and-a-half event–“a vital, enriching contribution to the department and the College as a whole,” according to Fred’s colleague, Professor Emeritus of Economics Phil Thomas–featured a prominent keynote speaker and always a capacity audience. Fred, too, used the occasion to deliver major talks on the economic outlook of the region, country and world.
He was a prolific scholar who published articles in Business Week, The American Banker, The Eastern Economic Journal and the Journal of Economic Issues. He was a much sought-after viewpoint writer for the Kalamazoo Gazette, the Detroit News and other daily newspapers, and he was a frequent radio talk show guest on the subjects of the decline of the middle class and the creation of a two-class society in the United States. Fred wrote two books, Upward Dreams, Downward Mobility: The Economic Decline of the American Middle Class (1993) and The Coming Class War and How to Avoid It (1999). His thinking was prescient, according to Phil: “His books identified and documented the decline of the middle class long before the issue entered the national consciousness and policy debate.”
In 1992 Fred received a six-week appointment as visiting professor of economics at Moscow State University, where a taught a course in money and banking to a group of 60 Russian undergraduate and graduate students.
In 1994 Fred became the William G. and Marie Selby Chair of Economics at the New College of the University of South Florida in Sarasota. He taught there until his retirement in 2008.
Fred is survived by two daughters, Heidi Strobel and Gretchen Strobel. Heidi is a K graduate, class of 1990. A memorial service for Fred will occur in Stetson Chapel on Saturday, February 25, at 3 p.m. A reception in the Olmsted Room will follow the service.