University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations


March 19 , 2003

University's First Economics Chair Passes Away

  Dr. William Schenk II, the first chairman of the department of economics at the University of South Alabama, passed away March 15 in Mobile. He was 91.

  Schenk joined USA in 1967, just four years after the University was founded. He retired from USA in 1980.

Dr. William Schenk II
Dr. William Schenk II

  “Professor Schenk was instrumental in starting and building the department of economics,” Dr. Carl Moore, dean of the USA Mitchell College of Business, said. The director of USA’s Center for Business and Economic Research, Dr. Semoon Chang, recalled Schenk’s leadership skills. “He was an excellent chairman who, with his low-key manner, generated consensus on tough issues.”

  A resident of Mobile, Schenk was a native of Bozeman, Mont., and the son of a sharecropping family. He did not begin formal schooling until the 4th grade, but went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Montana State University, his master’s from the University of Michigan and his doctorate from the University of Illinois.

  As a professor at Texas A&M University, Schenk earned a Fulbright scholarship to El Salvador in 1948, where he worked to establish a doctoral economic program. In subsequent years, he served as a food relief and emergency aid worker and small business administrator in countries such as Peru and India.

  He was a retired economist with the U.S. Department of State when he joined the University of South Alabama faculty. Following his USA tenure, Schenk moved to Washington, D.C., where for several years he chaired the international business desk of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

  He later returned to Mobile and wrote two books; one on poetry that will be published this year, and one on his experiences in Peru.

  Survivors include one son, William Earl Schenk III of Pittsboro, Ind.; two sisters, Edna Mae LaRue and Ruth Strickler, both of Bozeman, Mont.; one brother, Ficklin Schenk of Seattle; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

  A memorial service is set for 4 p.m. Friday, March 21 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, with visitation in the church parlor one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a tax-deductible contribution to an educational institution.

Arrangements are by Radney-Belmany Funeral Home on Grelot Road.

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