The School of Business and Economics suffered a great loss in May 2011, with the unexpected death of our friend and colleague, Robert “Bob” Mark. It is with sorrow for his passing and gratitude for his service that we celebrate his influence at Michigan Tech.
Bob came to Michigan Tech in 2006 as a Profesor of Practice after a long and successful career in industry and public service. Previously serving for five years as a captain in the US Army, he went on to own Pentabs, a computer software company, and Rowe Professional Services, a civil engineering consulting firm.
Not one to tout his own professional success, Bob was quick to focus on the accomplishments of his students and colleagues. He took great pleasure in their triumphs and was generous with praise and encouragement. Bob had the ability to find a genuine connection with people, making them feel capable and ready to meet the next challenge.
With his charisma, sense of humor, and entrepreneurial expertise, Bob was a natural teacher. He was famous for in-class magic tricks and wild personal stories, which he used as unforgettable instructional tools. Students remember his genuine interest in their academic success and personal lives. “Bob inspired us, and Bob cared about us,” said Maria Kasza ’10.
Both in and out of the classroom, Bob was a champion for his students. So great was his belief in their abilities that he didn’t hesitate to use his considerable professional power for their benefit. In an interview shortly before his death, he confessed proudly to “bullying” an engineering company at the Michigan Tech career fair into granting interviews to business students.
"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 Dean Darrell Radson. “To say that he will be missed is a huge understatement.”
A tireless supporter of entrepreneurial efforts, Bob gave generously of his knowledge and enthusiasm. "He helped me start my first business and then ensured it was a success by becoming my first customer. He was my biggest advocate," said Travis White '11.
In recognition of his excellence in teaching, Bob was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008, just two years after joining the faculty.
In his five years at Michigan Tech, Bob made an indelible impression on the School of Business and Economics. Determined to expose students to entrepreneurial opportunities, he became the codirector of Michigan Tech’s Institute for Leadership and Innovation and brought the Business Plan Competition and the Elevator Pitch Competition to campus. He acted as advisor for the Entrepreneurs Club, drove the commercialization of many undergraduate research projects, and was instrumental in implementing the Business Development Experience. His alternative spring break trip to Silicon Valley was a success and will be instituted as a for-credit class.
A man of many and varied interests, Bob was an active member of the community. He was the president of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance and the incoming president of the hockey booster Blue Line Club. Throughout his life, Bob was a sports fan, hockey coach, school board member, professional magician and hypnotist, community theater actor, and public speaker. He pursued photography, bicycling, skiing, and golf.
Even with his extensive academic and social involvement, Bob’s family was the center of his life. He was a loving husband and father, a proud grandfather, and a loyal brother and brother-in-law.
We will remember Bob as an untiring enthusiast, a wise mentor, and a great friend. Our halls will be emptier without his energy, his frank opinions, and his love of mischief and laughter. It was a privilege and an honor to be associated with Bob, and we will miss him.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.