NEW YORK — Adrian G. Marcuse, an engineer turned educator who ran LIM College here for 40 years until passing the reins to his daughter in 2002, died of natural causes in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on Thursday. Marcuse was 95.
“He essentially transformed this school into a true college,” said his daughter Elizabeth S. Marcuse, the current president of LIM. “He was my guiding light.”
A quiet, dignified man with an inquisitive mind, Marcuse earned a Master of Science Degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1946 in aerothermodynamics. He spent 16 years in engineering, primarily at Westinghouse, but was also instrumental in early research at United Technologies for what would eventually become supersonic flight.
But in 1962, he joined LIM, then known as the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, to assist his father, Maxwell Marcuse, who founded the school in 1939 at the behest of retailers to train young women for careers in the industry. Adrian Marcuse ran the college for 40 years, held the title of president for 30 years and had the vision to take LIM from a one-year, all-girls certificate program to a coed associate degree granting institution, and then finally to a coed Middle States-accredited college offering four-year bachelor’s degrees.
“Adrian understood the importance of education in order to compete and put the best students in jobs in the fashion industry. He knew what to do to make the institution relevant and held it to high standards,” Elizabeth Marcuse said. “This institution was founded on the premise of ‘learning by doing, experiential education,’ and he absolutely understood that. Most of his graduates went into prominent executive training programs to launch their careers.” During Marcuse’s tenure, more than 90 percent of graduating class would get jobs annually. “Today, we have a 91.6 percent post-graduation employment rate,” she added.
Elizabeth had been an executive in the fashion industry for about 20 years, including serving as director of retail planning for the Donna Karan Co. and in divisions of DKNY, when her father, knowing he was reaching the point of retiring as president of LIM, asked her to join the school. “He didn’t have to twist my arm,” she said. She spent a year as vice president and chief operating officer before succeeding her father as president. “I wouldn’t say that I have filled his shoes, but I have the same passion for the school. Students are the ones who keep you young.”
In addition to his daughter Elizabeth, Marcuse is survived by his wife of 32 years, Jeanne; daughters Nancy and Sally; a stepdaughter, Amy Rossman, and two granddaughters. He was predeceased by his first wife Janet Radlo Marcuse.
Marcuse was born March 25, 1922, in the Jamaica section of Queens, N.Y. He attended MIT, graduating in 1942 with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, and then served three years in the South Pacific as a lieutenant in the Air Force. During his service, he received an Asiatic-Pacific Theater ribbon with Five Battle Stars. He then attended MIT for his master’s degree.
During his LIM presidency, he was a founding member of the statewide association known as APC Colleges. He also served as a trustee and member of the executive committee of the Association of Colleges and Universities of the State of New York, and was active in several higher education professional organizations.
A private internment will take place, and a memorial service will be held in New York in September on a date to be determined. For more information, contact the family or the president’s office at LIM.