Pratt Supporters Donald Alstadt and John Strohbehn Die
Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering lost two good friends in February with the deaths of Donald M. Alstadt, chairman emeritus of the Lord Corp. and former member of Pratt’s Board of Visitors, and John Strohbehn, former Duke provost and professor emeritus of biomedical engineering.
“I had the great honor and privilege of working with both of these great men as dean, and their efforts on behalf of the Pratt School are in large measure the reason our programs have the kind of support we enjoy today,” said Pratt Dean Kristina M. Johnson in a memo to the faculty and students.
Alstadt, a winner of Pratt’s Distinguished Service Award, died Feb. 19 at the age of 85 while a patient at the Cleveland Clinic. He was responsible for starting the Lord Foundation endowment, which supports special projects in the school, as well as two Lord Professorships.
Strohbehn died Feb. 22 in Hanover, N.H., after a long illness. He was 70. He was Duke’s provost, the chief academic officer, from 1994 to 1999, and his century-ending report, "Duke at the Millennium,” called for increasing the size of the School of Engineering by 20 faculty. Johnson said that fueled the school’s expansion of faculty, students and facilities during the past seven years.
Strohbehn was born in San Diego, Calif., and received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He began his teaching career in 1963 at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., as an assistant professor at the Thayer School of Engineering. He was associate dean of the Thayer School from 1976 to 1981, and the Sherman Fairchild Professor of Engineering from 1983-1990. He was appointed provost of Dartmouth and served in that role from 1987-1993. Strohbehn moved to Duke in 1994 as provost and as professor of biomedical engineering. He retired as professor emeritus in 2003.
Strohbehn's early research in engineering focused on radiophysics, including microwave and laser propagation. He was selected for the National Academy of Sciences’ Exchange Program in Moscow in 1967. His interests later focused on biomedical engineering, medical imaging, and hyperthermia for cancer treatment.
During his prolific career, he authored more than 100 papers on electromagnetic wave propagation effects and the engineering aspects of hyperthermia. He was on the scientific and editorial boards for numerous national and international scientific journals. In 1988, he was co-awarded a patent for a stereotactic operating microscope. He later developed an interest in global warming and spent sabbatical years at the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies at Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., in 1993, and at the Center for Environmental Science and Policy at Stanford University, in 1999.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the Bryan Alzheimer's Research Center at Duke University, Box 3503 DUMC, Durham NC, 27705; the Alzheimer's Association; or the Scholarship Fund of the Dartmouth Society of Engineers, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, 8000 Cummings Hall, Hanover N.H. 03755.
Alstadt, chairman of Jura Corporation and as well as chairman emeritus of Lord Corp., was recognized worldwide for his expertise in rubber-to-metal adhesion, the physics and chemistry of surfaces and solid state molecular structures.
A graduate of University of Pittsburgh, Alstadt joined Lord in 1943 as a developmental engineer. He headed the company’s research efforts from 1952-61 and from 1956-61 he served as the manager of central research. Named executive vice president in 1966, Alstadt then served as president from 1968-75. He served as vice chairman from 1975-1982, when he became chairman and CEO, a position he held until 1991. He is credited as the inventor of Chemlok adhesives, which became the foundation of Lord’s successful global chemical business.
A few of his many professional society affiliations included directorships of Lord foundations of California, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Ohio; a fellowship in the American Institute of Chemists; memberships in the Academy of Applied Science, American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, Faraday Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Management Science and the Swedish Royal Academy of Engineering. He also was an advisory board member of the National Science Foundation.
He was recognized with honorary doctorate degrees from Edinboro University, Allegheny College and Thiel College and was a Distinguished Fellow at the Cleveland Clinic.
Memorials may be made to the Donald M. Alstadt Memorial Science Scholarship Fund, c/o PNC Bank, 901 State Street, Erie, Pa. 16501.