NEW YORK — After running the private college that his father founded in 1939 for the past 40 years, Adrian Marcuse stepped down June 25 from his post as president of Laboratory Institute of Merchandising.
But the small Manhattan school that offers bachelor of arts degrees in fashion merchandising, marketing and professional studies and touts itself as “the college for the business of fashion” will remain in the family circle: Marcuse’s daughter, Elizabeth, has taken the reins, becoming a third-generation leader of the institution.
Shadowing her father during the past year as the school’s vice president and chief operating officer, the younger Marcuse’s appointment marks the beginning of a subtle revolution for the school that seeks to raise applicants’ standards and give the school’s image a shot in the arm.
Marcuse said she knows what types of programs need to be implemented to give students a modern education aimed at retailing and merchandising. Prior to joining LIM, she worked as a buyer for stores such as Macy’s, Lane Bryant and Montgomery Ward. She was also the director of retail planning at apparel firm Mamiye Bros.
Marcuse said there was always an understanding between her and her father that she would come back to LIM one day, but that she wanted to pursue other interests in the fashion industry first. Her father said he agreed and that it was finally time for a fresh perspective at the school.
“I was hammered at home [by my wife] to smell the flowers from above ground,” said the elder Marcuse, “instead of from below.”
He then quoted businessman Lee Iacocca, who said people should either lead or get out of the way.
As for his daughter taking over, Marcuse said hiring an outside person to do the job would have caused big concerns for him. He said he knows that with his daughter, the philosophy at the school won’t be disrupted.
Marcuse outlined some ideas he said he would like to see change after his tenure. They included the broadening of the curriculum, improving its alumni outreach program, strengthening the abilities of incoming students and generally raising the college’s profile.
Marcuse also said he would like to see more money raised for scholarships through the school’s foundation. Yearly tuition runs around $14,000, and roughly 80 percent of LIM’s students have some sort of financial aid.
Another problem the school faces is a shortage of student housing. Currently, the school has a deal with the local YWCA, but owns no dormitory facilities to date. The cost of living in Manhattan, Marcuse said, easily outruns the school’s tuition.
“My initial goals aren’t too different from my father’s,” said the younger Marcuse. “But you can’t come in and rock the boat too quickly.”
Last Tuesday night, the senior Marcuse was feted at the Lotos Club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, not far from LIM’s East 53rd Street town house campus that was purchased for $500,000 in 1964. There, he was presented with a dedication plaque for the school’s new library facility to be built in the next few years and was also honored by members of the board of trustees.
The Adrian G. Marcuse Presidential Scholarship will also be established to award one full tuition scholarship to a student who has held a 3.5 grade point average or higher during a complete four-year run at the school.