COLUMBUS — James W. Strobel, who served 1977-88 as president of Mississippi University for Women, died Jan. 8 in a car accident in Florida where he was living. He was 80.
A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Strobel received his bachelor’s degree in botany at Ohio University and earned a doctorate in plant pathology at Washington State University. He was named the 11th president of The W in 1977, coming to Mississippi from North Carolina State University where he had served as professor and head of the Department of Horticultural Science.
During his 11-year tenure at The W, Strobel was instrumental in the founding of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, a residential program for high-achieving high school students. His legacy also includes starting the Mississippi Governor’s School, a summer residential honors program for high school juniors and seniors; establishing the university’s Centennial Scholars Program for superior students; and overseeing the creation of Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center. He also oversaw the construction of Cromwell Communication Center, home to the university’s theater and communication departments.
Strobel was president in 1984 when the university celebrated the centennial of its founding.
“Dr. Strobel provided strong leadership to the university during some of its major milestones such as the 1982 admission of men,” said Dr. Sheila Adams, dean of the College of Nursing and Speech-Language Pathology. “He was an approachable leader who supported faculty and the academic mission of The W.”
President Jim Borsig said that he first met Strobel in 1977 when Borsig was a student and chair of the Council of Student Body Presidents. “Dr. Strobel was a strong influence in encouraging me to pursue my career,” he said.
After being named president of The W in 2011, Borsig said he had a chance to renew his acquaintance with Strobel. “I know from these conversations how deeply he loved this university. Our entire university family extends our sympathy and prayers to his family during this difficult time.”
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.