Robert R. Sturgeon


College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (1985)
Indiana University Bloomington


Robert Sturgeon was a long time Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. Bob had a life-long love for Indiana University, with which he had an extended and varied association that began before World War II and ended with his retirement in the early 1980s. He was born in 1917 in Winnipeg, Canada, and completed his undergraduate education in economics at IU-Bloomington in 1940, where he served in the Marching Hundred and was admitted into Phi Beta Kappa. Bob then completed the MA degree in business from Harvard University in 1943.

After military service in the mid-1940s, Bob pursued a successful business career as the owner of a lumber company in Indianapolis. In 1952 he was appointed as a Lecturer in Marketing by the School of Business. During the 1950s he also worked for a few years as an Associate Professor of Economics at Earlham College. In 1957 Bob moved over to the College of Arts and Sciences, first as a Lecturer in Economics, and then, in 1962, as Acting Assistant Dean. Bob continued to lecture in economics until 1972. In 1965 he was appointed as Assistant Dean, a position he held until his retirement in 1981. Almost all of the tasks that are now divided among the current Assistant Deans were handled by Bob in his service to the College. He dealt with questions from students about College rules; fielded complaints from parents and faculty requests for help; and participated in deliberations of the curriculum committee. He was a tireless administrator, noted for his concern for students, especially foreign students, whom he often invited into his home. Members of the College staff fondly recall his delight in recounting notable events in the history of the College.

For many years, Bob also served as a devoted and capable secretary-treasurer of the Indiana University chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Because of his work in the College, his involvement was especially important in providing continuity for our PBK chapter. In the late 1970s, he worked out procedures for adding a GPA index to the raw GPA of students as a method for selecting PBK members at Indiana University. This adjustment for the rigor of grading in the different courses taken by students has since been copied by many other institutions.

Bob devoted generous amounts of his time in other ways that aided members of the Department of Economics, the College, the campus, and the local community. On many occasions, he made his home, situated in the hills of Brown County, available for receptions and other events for College staff and members of the Department of Economics. Older members of that department recall his willingness to drive a few of them in his "huge Cadillac" to meetings of the American Economic Association. In addition, Bob actively participated in several local civic associations, especially the Rotary Club, for which he served locally as President of Bloomington Rotary and also as a district governor.