In Memoriam: Dr. Roger R. Stough


Until earlier this year, the Arlington Campus of George Mason University was called Founders Hall. Within our school, we like to think that “Founders” referred to the four public policy professors and administrators who created what is now the Schar School of Policy and Government. One of those founders, University Professor Roger R. Stough, died Thursday, September 6, of complications from surgery. He was 79-years-old.

Dr. Stough’s early efforts to attract faculty, students, and research grants were vital to the development of the Institute of Public Policy—then TIPP, now the top-ranked Schar School—at a time when state funding was in jeopardy. Dr. Stough was principal investigator for grants and contracts totaling more than $50 million from agencies ranging from NASA and the National Science Foundation to the Department of Justice and the Federal Transit Administration. He was also key to launching many graduate degree programs and establishing influential research centers, including the Schar School’s Center for Regional Analysis.

At various times during his career at Mason, Dr. Stough held titles including Associate Dean for Research and Economic Development, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Director of the PhD program, Director of New Campus Operations at Mason’s Arlington location, and president of the George Mason Intellectual Property Foundation. He was the director of six academic centers, and from 1990 to 2013, he was the Northern Virginia Chair in Local Government and Eminent Scholar Professor of Public Policy.

In 2017, Dr. Stough was presented with the Schar School’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his role in helping create Mason’s policy school.

In 1997, TIPP assumed leadership of Mason’s struggling Entrepreneurship Center under the direction of Dr. Stough. With a mandate to become “the leading innovator in delivering high-impact business development assistance to small businesses” in Virginia, the Mason Enterprise Center now has Small Business Development Centers in dozens of communities across the Commonwealth, serving some 21,000 entrepreneurs.

“But first and foremost, Roger was a teacher,” said Founding Dean Emeritus Kingsley E. Haynes, who, with Dr. Stough and professors Martin Lipset and Donald Kash, founded TIPP. “He inspired generations of students over his 40-plus-year academic career. As much as all of us will miss him, we also know that through his students he will continue to live on.”

Beyond the Mason campus, his influence was felt internationally as a consultant and researcher, participating in technology policy seminars in Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America, as well as publishing hundreds of his findings globally. He authored or edited 45 books, wrote 90 chapters for books, and more than 85 journal articles. He was a past-president of the Regional Science Association International, contributing to the success of the North American Regional Science Council and the Western Regional Science Association. He was co-editor in chief of The Annals of Regional Science, now a top publication in the field.

Dr. Stough, who was awarded an honorary doctorate from Jönköping University in Sweden in 2006, earned his bachelor’s degree in International Trade and Economics from Ohio State University in 1964. He received his master’s degree in Economic Geography from the University of South Carolina in 1971 and a PhD in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1978.

He is survived by his wife Barbara and sons Brandon and John. 

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the “Schar School Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund in Memory of Roger Stough.” Checks may be sent or dropped off to Zavin Smith, director of development, and should be made out to the George Mason University Foundation, with the name of the fellowship on the memo line. Online donations may be made at this site; use the “Other Fund Not Listed” box and type in “Schar School Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund in memory of Roger Stough” under “additional comments about your gift.”  

The address is:

Zavin Smith
Schar School of Policy and Government
MS 3B1
George Mason University
3351 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA  22201