Memorial Service planned to honor the memory of Dr. R. Keith Martin, the dean of Fairfield University's School of Business for 11 years



Image: Keith MartinFairfield University professors remember Dr. R. Keith Martin, the former dean of the School of Business who recently passed away from cancer, as a devoted administrator and educator who focused on innovative curriculum as much as he did on supporting faculty and a growing student body. A memorial service will be held in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola on the Fairfield campus on Saturday, September 25 at 11:00 a.m., followed by a luncheon reception in the Oak Room. All who knew him are welcome.

"He was a remarkable person," recalled Winston Tellis, Ph.D., professor of information systems and operations management, "Always jovial, always a smile on his face, and loyal to this university. Fairfield was a very important part of his life."

Dr. Martin came to Fairfield in the fall of 1979. He served as the first associate dean of the School of Business, as it was then called. (It wouldn't be named the Charles F. Dolan School of Business until 2000.) He was made dean in 1982. During his tenure as dean, he directed the development of Information Systems as a degree program and initiated activities that culminated in establishing a major in International Studies offered jointly by the School and the College of Arts & Sciences.

After resigning the deanship in 1993, Dr. Martin continued as full professor and in 2000, he was named the first holder of the Stephen and Camille Schramm Chair in Business, the School's first endowed chair. Dr. Martin said at the time, "Chairs signal recognition of an institution's quality, and can serve as an inspiration to which current faculty members can aspire." After his retirement in 2005, he received the distinction of professor emeritus of information systems.

Throughout those years at Fairfield, Dr. Martin was continually upbeat about change, recalled James Fitzpatrick, assistant vice president of student affairs. "His positive outlook on campus happenings was contagious."

For others who knew him, his enthusiasm fostered growth at the School of Business, resulting in numerous advancements.

"He made a difference," said Dr. Michael Tucker, professor of finance, who was hired by Dr. Martin. When the School of Business started on the road to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation in the early 1990s, Dr. Martin saw the best route to involve curriculum innovation, an approach that was to be faculty driven, he noted. Many faculty meetings were conducted in which professors had lively discussions, presented proposals, got very political about what should be done and eventually settled on what became the most innovative business curriculum in the country.

"We not only got accredited but were also invited by AACSB to present what we had done at multiple conferences," noted Dr. Tucker. "Many other schools followed Fairfield's lead. Keith was willing to take the risk and it paid off."

When it came to hiring, he found it important to interview the "whole person." Chris Huntley, Ph.D., associate professor of Information System and Operations, remembers of his job interview that Dr. Martin focused primarily on things one could not glean from a resume. "He wanted to know about much more than just my publication history or what courses I might be qualified to teach," said Dr. Huntley. "He explained that the school's hiring strategy had always been to look for outstanding people with accompanying CVs rather than outstanding CVs with people attached."

Off campus, Dr. Martin, a native of Seattle, Washington, relished his time as a doting father of four and grandfather of eight. Quite the Renaissance man, while he was a licensed professional engineer whose research dealt with global information systems, he also was a singer and an actor. His "fabulous baritone" landed him memberships in both a choir and a barbershop quartet.

"He spread his wings in various places," observed Dr. Tellis.

Dr. Huntley's favorite memory of Dr. Martin is when he played Alfred P. Doolittle, cockney accent and all, in a production of "My Fair Lady" in a small theater in New York City. There were about 100 people in the audience. "You couldn't tell from his performance that it wasn't Broadway or even off-Broadway," he remembered. "Keith was going to do his absolute best to entertain us and enjoy himself while doing it. Come to think of it, he was always sort of like that."

Dr Martin is survived by his wife, Carolyn, of Litchfield, Conn.; two sons: Jefferson, of Sharon, Conn., and Sean of Woodinville, Wash.; two daughters: Jennifer Martin Silva of Cleveland, Ohio, and Katherine Primerano of Yorktown Heights, NY; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 25, at 11:00 a.m., Fairfield University's Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola, Fairfield campus.

A luncheon reception will immediately follow in the Oak Room, located in the Barone Campus Center.

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 17, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 47