90 Years of Impact: Dr. Richard E. Marburger
In ways large and small, there are few who have impacted Lawrence Tech as thoroughly as Dr. Richard E. Marburger.
For those who attended during his tenure - as a professor, Dean, Provost, or President - you may remember his unbridled energy, his enthusiasm, and most of all, his passion for learning and for helping students achieve their goals. This continued long after his retirement. Even today, at the age of 90, President Emeritus Marburger continues to regularly come to campus to counsel and mentor students about mathematics, physics, engineering, and careers.
So much of what LTU has achieved over the years can be credited to his efforts:
- Could Lawrence Tech showcase the region’s first view of rocks collected just months earlier from the surface of the moon? Yes, thanks to Dr. Marburger.
- Could we attract the presidents of Burroughs, General Motors, Ford, and other industry leaders to speak here at student presentations? Yes, thanks to Dr. Marburger.
- Could LTU serve thousands of young people by hosting the Michigan Spelling Bee for a decade and syndicate a daily column in hundreds of newspapers nationally on words and their uses? Yep. Marburger.
- In 1982, while many colleges and universities were stumbling with a new device called email, where their departments could not talk with each other due to hardware and software incompatibility, let alone talk with other institutions, Dr. Marburger oversaw the plan to assure that LTU email worked campus wide. He did it right the first time.
Dr. Marburger had already been associated with Lawrence Tech for 22 years before being named to succeed Wayne Buell as president in 1977. He started with GM Research Labs in 1952, and ten months later was commissioned in the Air Force. He returned to GM in 1955. In 1965 he joined Lawrence Tech’s adjunct faculty. He joined the full time faculty in 1969 and in 1970 was named what we today call the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1972 he was appointed vice president for academic affairs, (the provost,) and in 1977, president.
Have you heard the story about Steve Ballmer (pictured below), who went on to phenomenal success as CEO of Microsoft? He began a special association with Lawrence Tech in 1972 as a 15-year-old student at Detroit Country Day School in nearby Beverly Hills. Steve had exhausted all of Country Day’s math offerings. Dr. Marburger, then vice president for academic affairs, and Zaven Margosian, the chair of mathematics, arranged for Steve to co-enroll at Lawrence Tech for a full year, and also participate in Lawrence Tech’s popular Summer Science Institute.
Later, as Steve’s business triumphs grew, Dr. Marburger merrily and probably not inaccurately pointed out that because Steve could transfer his Lawrence Tech math credits, he entered Harvard as an advanced freshman, which increased the likelihood that he would live in a dorm and meet Bill Gates and develop the friendship that would lead to the creation of one of the most successful companies the world has ever known. Today, Steve Ballmer remains one of Lawrence Tech’s most supportive alumni and the key funder of the Marburger STEM Center, which he named to honor his longtime friend and mentor.
Dr. Marburger himself has continued to be a generous benefactor of the university. His contributions have touched nearly every part of campus and many spaces at LTU bear his name (or the name of his late wife Mary, pictured above). He generously supports annual awards given to faculty, staff, and administrators who demonstrate excellence in their fields and is a champion of LTU wherever he goes.
During the 90th birthday celebration for Dr. Marburger held on campus in May 2018, a drive was begun to create a permanent, endowed scholarship fund in his honor. There can be no more fitting legacy for a man who, for most his life, strived to enhance the learning experiences of Lawrence Tech students. Please help us honor a man who has dedicated his life to Lawrence Tech, and help LTU students who need scholarship support!