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Rich Strasser

Rich Strasser

Senior attorney | Library of Congress | Class of 1986

The third floor of Lincoln Hall is where Rich Strasser (’86) — then a UI sophomore, now the senior attorney for the Library of Congress — took his first real creative writing course. 

“Rhetoric 205, I think,” he says. 

“There was no elevator so you had to clomp up the rickety wooden stairs to get to the top floor. When you got there, it was like entering your grandparents’ attic. The classrooms were musty and dusty, and the splintered wooden floors showed the imprints of the thousands of students and teachers that had walked there before you.

“Had Lincoln’s ghost wandered through the hallway, it wouldn’t have looked out of place. 

“After all of the students arrived, you could hear footsteps slowly climbing the creaky steps and then Professor George Scouffas appeared. He must have been in his late 60s then and wore a rumpled tan sportscoat that went out of style in the Watergate Era.  His hair was thin and white and he had thick, bushy eyebrows that made him look a bit like an owl.  

“He introduced himself to the class and opened up a crinkled, yellow copy of Hemingway’s ‘Nick Adams Stories.’ George read ‘Ten Indians’ from the collection with such affection and reverence that you couldn’t help but be inspired to race back to the Daily Grind coffee shop to try to write something nearly as great.”