Syracuse UniversityOrange Central

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  • Joseph Strasser ’53, G’58

    Arents Award Recipient for Excellence in Public Administration

    Joseph Strasser ’53, G’58

    Strasser escaped Nazi-occupied Austria with 26 other children on a ship departing from Europe, and arrived at Ellis Island on December 23, 1940. Strasser, who was 8 years old, and his brother Alexander, who was 6, were later joined by their father. Their mother died in Vichy, France.

    Strasser graduated cum laude in 1953 with a bachelor's degree in history from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He returned to the Maxwell School to earn a Master of Public Administration degree after serving as a finance officer in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict.

    Dedicated to improving public finance in municipal governments, he became the first budget director of Savannah, Georgia, where he was nominated as Young Man of the Year for saving DeKalb County a quarter-million dollars. Among other achievements, he introduced the civilian, professionally trained public administrator position into fire and police departments in the South. In Jacksonville, Florida, he held positions of increasing responsibility in the city’s financial division until retiring in 1995. He also served for a decade as the local president of the American Society for Public Administration.

    Since retiring, Strasser has devoted himself to philanthropy and community service. His key interests are the Maxwell School and the Jacksonville Humane Society and Animal Shelter.

    As a practitioner of public service who was an “unsung hero,” he was honored with the first-ever Maxwell Award for Public Administration. In June 2018, Strasser’s gift of $3 million to the Maxwell School created the Joseph A. Strasser Endowed Professorship in Public Administration—the first named and endowed professorship specifically focused on public management at the Maxwell School.