Campus Mourns Business Professor Bob Mark

By Dennis Walikainen | Published

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

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

Bob 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. 

Bob 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, he 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 Bob. “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.”

Bob's students agreed. "This is a huge shock and very hard to hear," " said Jessica Tompkins, whose company, Two Bows, which designs hunting clothing for women, won last fall's Elevator Pitch Competition and placed second in the recent Business Plan Competition.  'Bob was one of my greatest supporters in the development of Two Bows, in addition to the great professor and all around guy I knew him to be. If it wasn't for Bob I never would have known about the Business Plan Competition or the Elevator Pitch Competition. Michigan Tech and its students are going be missing an amazing instructor and entrepreneur!'

Bob’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. “Bob 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, a 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 admired 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 a student graduated and landed a new job. Bob will be sorely missed by everyone who got to know him.”

"Bob 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.”

Bob earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Michigan Tech and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Utah.

Funeral and visitation dates, times, and obituary can be found here. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or the Bob Mark Memorial Elevator Pitch Competition at Michigan Technological University (Make checks payable to MI Tech Fund / Bob Mark Memorial).

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.