Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Updated: Michigan Tech, local community mourn loss of Business Professor Bob Mark

By Dennis Walikainen, Tech Today senior editor
Published in Tech Today Tuesday, May 24, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

Bob Mark, professor of practice in Michigan Technological University's School of Business and Economics, died Monday, May 23, 2011, after a recent stroke. He was 62 years old.

Bob Mark, Michigan Tech professor in the School of Business and Economics and president of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA). (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)

"Bob made teaching and learning fun by presenting concepts in a way that you couldn't forget them," said Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz. "He was a natural with students."

Mark was awarded the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008, only two years after joining the faculty. He was famous for using magic tricks in his classes and for his involvement with students outside the classroom.

"Bob had a great impact on our School, through his teaching, his work with the Institute for Leadership and Innovation and his direct involvement with students with dreams of being entrepreneurs," said Darrell Radson, dean of the School of Business and Economics.

Mark was the driving force behind the Elevator Pitch Competition and the Business Plan Competition, both of which challenged students to present their best ideas for new, real businesses to a panel of judges. In fact, Mark had just announced the merger of the Business Plan Competition with Central Michigan University for next year, greatly increasing its prize monies and stature. He was also instrumental in bringing the Extreme Entrepreneur Tour to the Michigan Tech campus.

"Incredible teacher, respected colleague and generous person," is how Mari Buche, associate professor in the School of Business and Economics, will remember Mark. "He was such a force. Everything he was involved in, he gave 100 percent. He could take a good idea and turn it into an experience."

Mark’s specialties also included commercializing University research projects, and he had presented continuing education business seminars to engineers. He even worked on commercializing a Senior Design project, an improved hospital bed mattress, with which his son, Larry, was involved.

Locally, he was president of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA).

"Bob Mark had been a pillar in promoting entrepreneurship at Michigan Tech and in the business community," said Carlton Carothers, CEO of the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation SmartZone. "I can’t think of anyone else with such 'can-do' and 'get-it-done' attitude. Our community has lost a strong advocate of business and entrepreneurship. We will also miss his uncanny humor."

Jonathan Leinonen, also with the SmartZone, agreed.

"Bob was an exemplar for entrepreneurs, role model for students and a leader in the community," he said. "Bob was a great inspiration to me personally, and I learned a lot from him through his tireless efforts to help students start businesses, to find funding for projects and to start the new Entrepreneurship Experiences capstone course. But what I really admire about Bob was that he had a heart for students: whether that was celebrating someone's birthday with ice cream cones, cheering them on at athletic events, helping them move into the dorms, or in one case I know of, carrying furniture out of a second-story apartment after graduating and landing a new job. Bob will be sorely missed by everyone who got to know him."*

"Mark also developed the Introduction to Business course, an important part of our undergraduate curriculum," Radson added. "He will be greatly missed. Please keep his wife, Nancy, daughter, Jacqualine, and sons, Phil and Larry, in your thoughts and prayers."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

*Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now wishes to express our deepest sympathy to the family of Bob Mark. We remember him as the lively announcer at the Cardboard Boat races in Houghton -- one of our favorite community events.

Update: Phil Musser, KEDA executive director, sent Keweenaw Now this comment about Bob Mark: "Bob was the KEDA President and an important economic development partner in helping local entrepreneurs turn their dreams into viable companies. He was always looking for opportunities to create value in the community. His experience in creating, owning and growing his own companies using common sense approaches were ones he readily shared with student and community entrepreneurs."

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