Randall Strahan, an Emory political science professor remembered for his dedication to teaching and his passion for politics, died Jan. 16. He was 59.
The cause of death was bladder cancer, according to Goodrich C. White Professor of Political Science Richard Doner.
Strahan was diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer – an aggressive form of the disease – in July 2013, after which he underwent intensive treatment and chemotherapy, Doner said. He continued teaching classes at Emory until an operation in October, after which he took leave from teaching to recover.
Doner said he developed a close friendship with Strahan after they came to teach at Emory in 1984 and 1985, respectively.
Doner also spoke highly of Strahan’s knowledge of a wide variety of fields, adding that his friendship with Strahan compelled him to challenge his own beliefs.
“He was one of the people I would go to check my own instincts,” Doner said. “As someone with a different political perspective, I learned a lot from him.”
In addition to almost three decades of service to Emory’s political science department, Strahan and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History Harvey Klehr co-founded the Voluntary Core Curriculum, a series of linked courses on the Western political tradition.
“The program wouldn’t have gotten started without his talents,” Klehr said.
He added that Strahan’s efforts to ensure that Klehr would continue teaching a class they co-taught after his operation was indicative of his dedication to his students.
Strahan also wrote two novels about congressional politics and published and contributed to numerous articles and journals.
According to many of his colleagues and students, Strahan distinguished himself as a dedicated and exemplary professor.
“[Strahan] was one of those rare professors who cared for his students both academically and personally,” said College sophomore Tina Huang, who had Strahan as an advisor. “I remember his welcoming smile and light sense of humor from the first day I met him.”
Strahan specialized in both political theory and American politics and was uniquely able to intersect history, theory and modern political dilemmas, Doner said.
“He had a very unique ability to break down complicated and obscure ideas,” said Josh Moscow (’13C), one of Strahan’s thesis advisees.
Moscow added that Strahan’s office hours in Tarbutton Hall were always crowded and that Moscow would even show up 15 to 20 minutes early to ensure he could meet with Strahan.
“He made college worth it in a lot of ways,” Moscow said.
Doner also noted Strahan’s dedication and time commitment to his students.
At Emory, Strahan has been honored with two awards for teaching, the Crystal Apple for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award, Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science, Alan Abramowitz, wrote in an email to the Wheel.
More than just his teaching accolades, Doner and Asa G. Candler Professor of Politics and Government Merle Black commented on his good-natured personality and varied interests.
Doner said he and Strahan would often go sea-kayaking together and that Strahan was a connoisseur of music with an extensive knowledge of jazz.
A memorial service for Strahan was held Jan. 20 at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Atlanta, Abramowitz wrote.
Moscow said the event was packed with former colleagues and students, and many attendees shed tears.
Strahan is survived by his wife Annie and his children Alex and Andrea, who is expecting a child.
–By Rupsha Basu