S. Frederick Starr

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S. Frederick Starr
12th President of Oberlin College
In office
1983 (1983)[1] – 1994 (1994)[1]
Preceded by Emil Danenberg
Succeeded by Nancy Dye
Personal details
Born Stephen Frederick Starr
(1940-03-24) March 24, 1940 (age 75)
Alma mater Yale University (undergraduate)
Princeton University (PhD)
Profession Russian and Eurasian affairs expert, historian, musician

Stephen Frederick Starr (born March 24, 1940) is an American expert on Russian and Eurasian affairs, a noted musician,[2] and a former college president. Founder and Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, he is fluent in Russian, and is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 articles on Russian and Eurasian affairs.[3]


Academic career[edit]

Starr earned his B.A. Degree at Yale University in 1962 and his Ph.D. in history at Princeton University.

He is a research professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His expertise is in Afghanistan, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union. He focuses on developing nations, energy and environment issues, Islamic faith, culture and law, and oil politics.

Starr began work in the Turkic world as an archaeologist in Turkey and went on to found the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, which opened U.S. research contact with Central Asia. He served as vice president of Tulane University, and president of Oberlin College (1983–1994), succeeding Emil Danenberg. Later, he was president of the Aspen Institute.

Starr has advised three U.S. presidents on Russian/Eurasian affairs and chaired an external advisory panel on U.S. government-sponsored research on the region, organized and co-authored the first comprehensive strategic assessment of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Afghanistan for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1999, and has followed up by close involvement in drafting of recent U.S. legislation affecting the region.

Journalist Ken Silverstein has dubbed Starr “The Professor of Repression” due to his support for corrupt despotic regimes in the Caspian region.[4] Similarly, a book on the 2008 Georgian-Russian war co-edited by Starr was criticized for lack of impartiality.[5]


In 1980 Starr, a talented jazz clarinetist, cofounded the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble while serving at Tulane. Its members dedicate themselves to preserving the raucous pre-1930 jazz of New Orleans. The LRJE has performed across the United States. It gave the Doubleday Lecture at the Smithsonian Institution in March 1983, toured France and the Soviet Union, and made national television appearances in Italy, Japan and Sweden. Jazz historian Al Rose once called the LRJE "the most authentic band on the scene today".[6] The Ensemble's albums include Alive and Well (1981), Uptown Jazz (1984) and Hot & Sweet: Sounds of Lost New Orleans (1986).


  • Decentralization and Self-Government in Russia, 1830-1870, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 1972, ISBN 0-691-03090-1.
  • Melnikov. Solo Architect in a Mass Society, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 1978 ISBN 0-691-03931-3.
  • Red and Hot. The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union 1917-1980, Oxford University Press, New York/Oxford 1983 ISBN 0-19-503163-6.
  • A Usable Past, in: Alexander Dallin and Gail S. Lapidus (eds.): The Soviet System. From Crisis to Collapse, 2nd. revised edition; Westview Press, Boulder, San Francisco, Oxford 1995 ISBN 0-8133-1876-9, pp 11–15
  • with Hans von Herwarth: Against two Evils: Memoirs of a Diplomat-Soldier during the Third Reich, Collins, London 1981, ISBN 0-89256-154-8.


  1. ^ a b "S. Frederick Starr Presidential Papers". Oberlin College Archives. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ "S. Frederick Starr papers". New York Public Library Archives & Manuscripts. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ S. Frederick Starr, Ph.D," Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University website. Accessed Dec. 16, 2013.
  4. ^ Silverstein, Ken. "Academics for Hire", Harper's Magazine (May 2006)
  5. ^ Bruckner, Till. "Book Review: The Guns of August 2008" Caucasian Review of International Affairs, winter 2010". cria-online.org. 
  6. ^ "Louis Armstrong Centennial Conference: Biographies of Participants". Satchmo.com. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 

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