Roland Samuel Strolle


From a biographical sketch of Dr. Roland S. Strolle, c. 4-21-1970


Dr. Roland Strolle was named Dean of Graduate Studies at Northern Michigan University during the Fall semester of 1969.

Strolle, a native of Ontonagon Mich., came to Northern from Western Michigan University. Where he had served as assistant dean in the university’s School of Education.

In addition to his duties as Dean of Graduate Studies, Strolle is also responsible for Northern’s research and development office and the summer school program.

A 1933 graduate of Northern, Strolle earned his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota and his doctorate in education at Michigan State University.

He began his educational career as a teacher in 1928 in his hometown of Ontonagon. He subsequently taught and served as superintendent at Michigamme, superintendent at Powers-Spalding and Stephenson, and high school principal at Menominee and Kingsford.

In 1949, Strolle moved to Lansing as chief of the School Organization and Plant Division of the State Department of Public Instruction. Here he frequently served as a consultant for schools throughout the state.

A published report of “Michigan’s Public School Building Needs, 1953-1960,” resulted from an intensive statewide study that was directed by Strolle. He has also written widely on the subject of school finance.

He joined Western Michigan University’s administration in 1957 as head of the education department. In 1960, he assumed the additional duties as an assistant dean of the School of Education.

Strolle was granted a leave of absence by WMU during the 1966-67 academic year to study the Turkish system of education and participate in the organization of a graduate program in the School of Education at Ankara University.


Transcription of Dr. Strolle’s handwritten autobiography, March 1986


(Biographer’s note: Some words and phrases from the original document are not legible, and have been redacted from this transcription. The remainder of the transcription has been written to reflect the original document as accurately as possible.)


To: Paul Suomi, Director of Alumni Relations, Northern Michigan University

From: Roland S. Strolle

Subject: Personal Record and Reflections


People are born, educated, work, retire, and for the most part forgotten. The more famous ones write their own biographies while some employ a ghostwriter. Some like me write their memories for their immediate families—children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren.

It occurred to me after the recent alumni gathering that maybe a record of my life should be filed somewhere. What better place than the files of his Alma Mater for such a record. It is with great reluctance that I do this as I am well aware of my intellectual shortcomings. But it has been my good fortune to have been in the right place at the right time to have some interesting and rewarding experiences.

Permit me to report them in a somewhat chronological order:

  1. The personal files at Northern contain a record of my educational preparation. I graduated from Ontonagon High School, Ontonagon County Normal, Northern State Teachers College (1), the University of Minnesota, and finally Michigan State University.

  2. The forty-five years of work in the public education arena reveals two years teaching in a one room rural school, six years as a secondary school teacher, five years as a superintendent of three schools (Michigamme, Spalding Township, Stephenson), five years as a high school principal (Menominee, Kingsford), and nine years with the State Department of Public Instruction.

It was while I was employed with the D.P.L. that I was given the opportunity to direct a statewide school facilities survey. I was then asked to head the Department of School District Organization. We were instrumental in reorganizing hundreds of school districts, eliminating the weak, ineffective non-high school districts and establishing administrative units that could provide sound educational programs from kindergarten through grade twelve. It was hard work, but man it was rewarding.

3. My work at the D.P.L. took me to all parts of the state. We were called upon for assistance by many districts in southwestern Michigan. In addition to school facilities surveys and reorganization studies, we conducted several community college feasibility studies. Dr. Paul Sangren, President of Western Michigan University, must have heard about our work as he asked me to head the Department of Teacher Education at Western and to organize a division of School Administration and supervision for graduate studies.

The thirteen years at W.M.U. were exciting. The growth was tremendous and we responded to the challenge by helping to develop programs for teachers of exceptional children. Guidance counselors, and educational leaders. He called upon educators such as George Counts, Paul Misner, Maurice Seay, Ronald Campbell, and Donald Weaver for advice and counsel. Masters programs and educational specialist programs came to fruition in those years. The doctoral curriculum in educational leadership was approved in 1967.

In 1966 I was granted or awarded a Fulbright Lectureship assignment at the University of Akara. We guided a committee in the development of the first graduate program in education in the country of Turkey. Turkish teachers can now enroll for graduate study leading to a master’s degree without traveling to Europe or the United States.

4. Because of my interest in school district reorganization Governor Romney asked me to be a member of his “State Committee on School District Reorganization”. I was really flattered when the committee unanimously selected me as their chairman. We established guidelines and gave directions to a statewide study of school districts. Each local study group made recommendations for strengthening local administrative units. It was a most interesting assignment.

5. At Northern Michigan University, I held the following positions:

Dean of Graduate Studies

Director of Research and Development

Director of the Summer Session

Vice President of Continuing Education

Vice President of Academic Affairs

We were able to develop a graduate program of studies for teachers at the community college level curriculum for personnel at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base.

Of even more importance, a program of studies leading to the baccalaureate degree was organized for residents of the Branch prison.

Another important curriculum in Criminal Justice had its beginning during our tenure. Since then, this program has gained national recognition. Bachelor degrees are now granted to graduates of the prescribed curriculum.

Our aim was to assist in any way we could to be of service to students on or off campus. The Vocational Center (2) is an example of service to prisons seeking to acquire skills and training. We did everything possible to give these programs priority in our planning.

6. Conclusion and summary

I have always been a very enthusiastic person. I worked hard at all times and was always loyal to the organization for which I worked. My fellow-workers rewarded me with a number of leadership positions. Permit me to list some of them:

President of the County Normal Class

President of our fraternity at N.S.T.C. (3).

Vice President of the Senior Class of N.S.T.C.

President of the Ontonagon Junior Chamber of Commerce

Chairman of the Upper Peninsula M.E.A. (4)

President of the Western Michigan Chapter of the M.E.A.

President of the Kalamazoo Lions Club

A number of honors have come my way in addition to the Fulbright Scholarship. Some of them follow:

Member and President of Phi Delta Kappa

Elected to Omicron Delta Kappa by the faculty and students of W.M.U. (honorary society for leaders at the college level)

Elected to Phi Kappa Phi by the N.M.U. Chapter

Distinguished Service Award by the Salvation Army of Phoenix, Arizona

Distinguished Service Award—Phi Delta Kappa

Lifetime Membership Award—Michigan Community Education Association

Distinguished Alumni Award—N.M.U.

It is with a great deal of hesitation that I send you this brief compilation. Many graduates of Northern have had more noteworthy and colorful lives, but few have served the public sector with more fervor and dedication than I. When one likes his job, hard work is fun, especially when you have a caring and supportive partner such as Vicky (5).

Thanks for your time,


March 1986


Dr. Strolle passed away March 17, 2008 at the age of 97.

  1. The original name of Northern Michigan University.

  2. It’s assumed this refers to vocational programs offered at Marquette Branch Prison.

  3. Northern State Teachers College. The fraternity is believed to be Alpha Delta as Roland Strolle is documented as a member from 1931-32 in the Kawbawgam, N.S.T.C.’s yearbook. No yearbook was published in 1933, when Strolle would have been president. Though they share a name, the Alpha Delta fraternity formerly affiliated with NMU is not the same society as the current Alpha Delta fraternity.

  4. Assumed to be referring to the Michigan Education Association.

  5. Strolle’s wife.