The global marketing academy mourns the loss of one of its most stellar members. Emeritus Professor Barton A. Weitz of the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida passed away June 29, 2018, after a decade-long battle with Parkinson’s. Bart will be remembered for his many scholarly contributions and service to the marketing discipline. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues, co-authors, the thousands of undergraduate and MBA students he taught, and most of all, by his many Ph.D. students whom he treasured so much.
After earning a BSEE degree from MIT and an MBA from Stanford, Bart enjoyed a brief but distinguished career in sales and marketing in the technology sector. In 1973 he returned to Stanford to pursue his Ph.D. in marketing, which led to his first academic appointment at UCLA’s Graduate School of Management in 1976. Bart left UCLA in 1982 to join the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. From there, in 1986, he joined the University of Florida faculty as the inaugural J.C. Penney Eminent Scholar Chair in Retailing. In 1988, he founded the Miller Retail Center and served as its executive director until his retirement on July 1, 2012, when he became emeritus director.
Bart is best known for his myriad scholarly contributions to the marketing literature. He was quite eclectic in his scholarly pursuits, with publications spanning many subareas within marketing. However, his most substantial research streams were in the areas of personal selling effectiveness, salesforce motivation and evaluation, inter-organizational relationships, marketing strategy, and channel and retail management. All told, he published more than 80 professional journal articles, as well as co-authoring leading textbooks in retailing and personal selling. In addition, he was a frequent speaker at academic conferences, presenting his research on more than 150 occasions.
Bart was not just prolific; his research was path-breaking, insightful, and award-winning. Not only did some of his individual papers win prestigious awards such as the Louis Stern Award, the Journal of Marketing Paul Root Award, and the University of Oxford Centre for Corporate Reputation Award, his collective contributions were recognized by no less than five lifetime achievement awards, all from the American Marketing Association. Bart was honored with lifetime achievement awards by three AMA Special Interest Groups: the Sales SIG, the Inter-Organizational Relations SIG, and the Retailing SIG. In 1998 he was named the AMA/Irwin Distinguished Marketing Educator, the highest academic distinction in the field. In 2015, Bart was named one of the inaugural Fellows of the American Marketing Association. These honors and awards are a real testament to the Bart’s enormous scholarly contributions.
Bart also was an exceptional leader beyond his scholarship. He was an active participant in several professional associations, but he was a true standout in his service to the AMA. From 1994 to 2002, he served on the AMA executive committee, culminating in his chairmanship of the AMA in 2002. He also served as editor of the Journal of Marketing Research, the flagship journal of the discipline. He was a member of the influential Task Force on the Development of Marketing Thought and a perennial Faculty Fellow at the AMA/Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium.
Bart did not limit his service to the marketing discipline; he was also a dedicated and vital citizen of the Warrington College. In addition to his founding and nurturing of the Miller Retail Center, he served as chair of the Marketing Department from 1994–2000. He also was an active participant in a wide array of department, college, and university committees.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Bart’s record is that everything that has been detailed above, as remarkable as it is, pales in comparison with Bart’s true passion: working with Ph.D. students. Bart absolutely loved working with his students, guiding and mentoring them, learning with them and from them, and showing them the joys of scholarly research. Between UCLA and UF, Bart chaired more than 20 dissertations, and his students became part of his family. His students came from all over the globe, and virtually all of them are enjoying wonderful academic careers of their own. His work with Ph.D. students was unquestionably Bart’s most cherished role. And his students felt the same way. As one of them recently mentioned to me, “Bart not only taught me how to be an academician; he also taught me how to be a human being…He taught me how to look at the bright side of each human being…He doesn’t give up hope on people who are not perfect.” Another said, “…you are not only my academic advisor, but also a dear family member in my heart! It is my greatest honor to be your student!”
Yes, the marketing discipline has lost one of its stars, but those of us who knew him personally have also lost a treasured friend. Bart was quick-witted and had a great sense of humor (though he was terrible at telling a joke!). He loved sports and immediately adopted the Gators when he joined UF, especially the men’s basketball team; he and his wife Shirley rarely missed a home game. He relished a good mystery novel, and, oh my, did he love to gossip. Whenever I attended a conference that he hadn’t, he would buttonhole me as soon as I returned. “Who did you talk to? What’s new? Who’s hiring this year?” He was insatiable. Bart, you will be missed!