The name Marburger is just about as synonymous with Lawrence Technological University as, well, Lawrence.
So it was no surprise that it was a packed house May 24 for “90 Years of Impact,” a program celebrating the 90th birthday of LTU President Emeritus Richard E. Marbuger.
LTU President Virinder Moudgil noted that the title “emeritus” is a high honor – “symbolizing the affection, esteem, and admiration that we all feel for Dr. Marburger.”
A Detroit native, Marburger attended Highland Park High School and had his first exposure to what was then the Lawrence Institute of Technology through its renowned late 1940s basketball teams.
A physicist by education, Marburger joined the LTU faculty in 1965 as an adjunct professor, after a stint in the United States Air Force and work in the research laboratories of
General Motors. He quickly moved up the university’s organizational chart, becoming a full-time professor, then director of what was then the School of Arts and Sciences, and, in 1972, vice president of academic affairs – today, the post is known as provost – and finally, president, in 1977. He would serve as president until 1993, when he returned to teaching.
Under Marburger’s leadership, the University built the Buell Management Building, Don Ridler Field House, and a new wing of the Engineering Building. He also instituted one of the nation’s first campus electronic mail systems during the 1982-83 school year. And he brought back master’s degree-level education, leading the transition from LIT to today’s LTU.
Currently, Marburger serves as a volunteer student advisor for two of the University's four colleges and shares his wisdom with students and faculty alike. He also provides assistance to the Office of University Advancement in fundraising.
He holds three degrees in physics from Wayne State University, including a doctorate.
Speakers at the May 24 program included Marburger’s son Dennis, who recalled his father’s affinity for the Chevrolet Corvair – as well as his regard for the evening students who were looking to improve their lives through education after putting in a full day’s work. “It was okay with him if they nodded off once in a while,” Dennis Marburger said.
Bruce Annett Jr., vice president of marketing and public affairs, recalled the possibly apocryphal tale of a campus visitor who asked, “’Where can I find Dr. Marburger?’ The answer was, ‘Just stand still, and he’ll be by.’”
Marburger was a champion of a well-rounded education, leading the university to host the Michigan state-wide spelling bee for more than a decade, and syndicating a daily column on words and their uses to hundreds of newspapers around the country during the 1970s and 1980s.
And LTU Provost Maria Vaz said of Marburger: “He’s such a positive force. He’s larger than life. And the optimism he exudes is so strong that we have to be optimistic too. There is no other way to be, around him.”
Marburger himself began his remarks during the program with characteristic self-deprecation: “I know you’re all waiting to hear my rebuttal.” But then he credited his continued work at LTU, his pastor, his involvement with the Manoogian School in Southfield, and his fellow residents of the Fox Run senior housing complex in Novi for keeping him vital and engaged into his 90s.
And with characteristic optimism about LTU’s future, he concluded: “We are in on the ground floor of the remedy to what ails our society. We are inventing the future.”