Message from President Amy Gutmann on the Death of President Emeritus Martin Meyerson

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Media Contact: | | June 6, 2007

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of President Emeritus Martin Meyerson on Saturday evening, June 2, in Philadelphia.

As an administrator, faculty member, volunteer, and mentor, Martin was an exemplary citizen of this University for more than five decades.  As Penn's fifth president from 1970 to 1981, Martin drew upon his expertise as one of the nation's preeminent city planners to articulate an integrated vision of "One University," in which all of Penn's schools would collaborate to produce leading-edge teaching and research that benefited society.  His broad interests and vast contributions personified the integration of knowledge that Penn holds dear.

A person of great wisdom, warmth, and integrity, a personal friend to so many of us, Martin will be sorely missed by his extended Penn family and by everyone who had the privilege of getting to know him. We offer our deepest condolences to Margy Ellin Meyerson, G'93, Martin's wife of 61 years, and their sons, Adam and Matthew. In addition to Margy, Adam and Matthew, Martin is survived by two daughters-in-law, Sandra Meyerson and Nina Shea, and seven grandchildren.  He was predeceased by his daughter Laura.

A University-wide memorial service will be held for Martin this autumn.  Details will be provided when plans are complete.

As the first city planner to serve as president of a research university, Martin brought tremendous vision to his role as Penn's president. He was particularly committed to the centrality of the liberal arts to a great research university. During the Meyerson presidency, the College, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, College for Women, College of General Studies and the social science departments of the Wharton School were consolidated to create what is now known as the School of Arts and Sciences.  His tenure was also marked by the creation of what later would become the College House system, as well as the freshman seminar program, the practice of responsibility center budgeting, the boards of overseers, the University's first affirmative action program, a significant fund-raising campaign, and the transformation of the campus core with the creation of Blanche P. Levy Park.  He also summoned the University community to turn its attention to the challenges of West Philadelphia.  For these and other accomplishments, Meyerson Hall was named in his honor in 1983.

He began his academic career in 1948 at the University of Chicago before coming to Penn in 1952 as an associate professor of city and regional planning.  In 1957, he left for Harvard University and later served as dean of the College of Environmental Design at the University of California at Berkeley. While at Berkeley, he served as acting chancellor during the student unrest of the Free Speech movement. He then served as president of the State University of New York at Buffalo before returning to Penn as president in 1970.

After leaving the presidency, Martin remained active at Penn as University Professor of Public Policy Analysis and City and Regional Planning and as chair of the University of Pennsylvania Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Press, the Institute for Research on Higher Education, and the Monell Chemical Senses Center. He was also co-chair of Penn's 250th anniversary celebration.  Martin also served on the boards of the Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences, the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, and the Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response.  He also chaired the Universitys Fels Center of Government program until February 1996. With his wife Margy, he was Co-President of the Friends of the Library, in which capacity they served on the Library's Board of Overseers.

As an expert on national, regional, urban, and industrial development, Martin was a United Nations advisor and delegate, as well as a consultant to several West African nations and to the Governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.  He founded London's Centre for Environmental Studies and Japan's International Centre for the Study of East Asian Development and was an advisor to France's Institut National de la Communication Audiovisuelle.  He served as Chair of the International Institute for Education and President of the International Association of Universities and held leadership positions with dozens of American organizations dedicated to urban affairs, education, science, foreign policy, conservation, and the arts.  He served on several White House task forces and on the councils of a number of government agencies.

Martin was also a trustee and senior fellow of the Aspen Institute and held planning positions with the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital, and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.  He was also a director of a number of corporations, a member of the Senior Executives Council of the Conference Board, and a senior advisor to Arthur D. Little, Inc., the global management consulting firm.

His books included Politics, Planning, and Public Interest; Housing, People, and Cities; Face of the Metropolis; and Boston: The Job Ahead.  With Dr. Dilys Winegrad, director and curator of the Arthur Ross Gallery, he wrote Gladly Learn and Gladly Teach, a history of Penn.

Martin was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society of Arts in Great Britain, and the American Institute of Certified Planners and an academician of the European Academy for Arts, Sciences, and Letters.  In addition, he was a member of the executive committee of the American Philosophical Society and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Academy of Education.  He was also decorated by the governments of France, Italy, and Japan.  He received numerous prizes and honorary degrees, including a doctor of laws degree conferred by Penn in 1970.

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