At its March 19-20, 2015 meeting, the Board of Trustees of The University of Findlay approved the awarding of honorary doctorates to James D. Houdeshell and Richard “Dick” Strahm. Dr. Katherine Fell, University president, nominated Houdeshell and Strahm and the board’s Honorary Degree Committee recommended the awards.
A 60-year employee of The University of Findlay, Houdeshell was hired in 1955 as assistant professor, athletic director and head coach of football, basketball and baseball. He went on to hold many other positions at the University, including dean of students and chair of the Division of Teacher Education. Houdeshell had primary responsibility for adding one of UF’s first graduate programs, a master of arts in education and also helped develop the health and physical education major, along with the equestrian studies program. Currently, he serves as special assistant to the president.
A graduate of The University of Findlay (then Findlay College), Houdeshell received a master of education with a minor in school administration from Bowling Green State University and a doctor of physical education from Indiana University, Bloomington.
A standout athlete as an undergraduate, Houdeshell was inducted into the Findlay College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975. As a member of the UF faculty/staff, he was president of the NAIA in 1990-91; president of the NAIA Athletic Directors Association, 1981-82, and received the Athletics Administrator of the Year (Charles Morris Award), 2001-2002.
A pottery collector, Houdeshell has published a book on Houghton and Dalton pottery and has presented several lectures and reviews.
Dick Strahm signed on at The University of Findlay as head football coach in 1975. He took the Oilers to the NAIA playoffs 12 times and logged 22 winning seasons out of 24, retiring from coaching in 1999.
At age 81, Strahm is one of the oldest living members of the College Football Hall of Fame and is the only coach to win the NAIA National Coach of the Year award four times. Other Football Halls of Fame honoring Strahm include the Rawlings/NAIA Football Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee; Libbey High School Hall of Fame, the Hancock Sports Hall of Fame and the Toledo Chapter National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.
Prompted by friends to memorialize his football anecdotes and experiences on and off the field, Strahm worked with writer John Grindrod to publish his biography, “Just Call Me Coach,” in 2008.
Along with challenges on the football field, Strahm has also met with personal challenges, including four heart attacks, a stroke and cancer. He considers his “greatest victories” to be those over his illnesses. He served as honorary chair of the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk in 2007 and received UF’s Arch Award for more than 25 years of service in 2009.
The University will award the honorary degrees to Houdeshell and Strahm at its commencement on Saturday, May 2, 2015. The Office of Alumni, Parents and Friends will host a Retirement Roast/Celebration for Houdeshell and Strahm on May 16. The Dr. James D. ’53 and Mira M. Frost ’78 Houdeshell Scholarship Endowment Fund and Dick Strahm Scholarship Endowment Fund have been established in their honor. To make a gift to one or both of these funds in honor of their legacy, visit the link for the celebration above.