He joined the Northwestern Faculty in 1947 and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics by the University of Chicago in 1951 for a dissertation on welfare economics. His specialty was econometrics and studied European economics on a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1955 and 1956.
He was drafted into the Army and served in the European theater. Strotz was a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958 and 1959. He was an editor of Econometrica, International Economic Review, and Economic Analysis.
He assumed the office after it was vacated by his predecessor, J. Roscoe Miller, 15 months earlier in the midst of intense social protest activity on campus.
While Strotz"s appointment was opposed by the Daily Northwestern and Associated Student Government president owing to his positions opposing the closure of campus during a strike and politicization of university classes, he was supported by the faculty. Strotz served in the position until 1984 and was succeeded by Arnold R. Weber.
Following his presidency, Strotz was appointed university chancellor and headed fund-raising and alumni relations efforts until 1990. Strotz died in a nursing home in Deerfield, Illinois on November 9, 1994.