Rom Markin is retiring from Washington State University, but his impact on the people, programs, and future of the institution will be long felt and heralded.

During what he has termed his “43-year love affair with WSU,” he has been a marketing and entrepreneurship faculty member, dean of the College of Business and Economics for 15 years, creator of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, interim WSU Provost, and most recently, interim Chancellor of WSU Spokane. He also held both a distinguished professorship and an endowed chair.

The innovative, visionary, and inspirational man was presented recently with a new award—the President’s Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service.

Pres. Lane Rawlins, who served as an economics faculty member under Dean Markin, said, “Our award winner has served Washington State University with distinction and pride for more than four decades…. He is an outstanding teacher and mentor who inspired hundreds, if not thousands of students throughout his career. His marketing textbooks are considered some of the definitive works in the field, and his former students throughout the country take every opportunity to describe the impact his teaching and wisdom has had on their lives and careers.”

Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Brian Benzel says, “I was a student in Dr. Markin’s marketing class in 1970. I personally experienced his intellect and enthusiasm as a teacher. As a colleague now, it has been a treat to see Rom’s leadership in an up close and personal way here in Spokane. His strong sense of mission, combined with strong relationship skills, expanded the vitality of the WSU presence in Spokane.”

“He’s a great deal maker, and also so great at working with people, seeing other people’s issues, seeing an equitable solution for everyone and getting there,” says Jon Eliassen, executive director of the Spokane Area Economic Development Council and a former student.

Those within WSU appreciate him just as deeply. “Working with Rom as his administrative assistant for almost his entire tenure as dean of CBE, I observed impressive leadership skills which were grounded in a well thought-out vision for the college. He had the ability to work with, mentor, and inspire advisory board members, faculty, students, and staff. And, my memories of truly inspirational and heartfelt presentations at meetings, commencement, or other occasions are shared by many,” says WSU Co-Ombudsman Penne Pierson.

CBE Dean Len Jessup says, “Rom encouraged me to apply to be dean, and has mentored me over the past two years on the job. He has been very helpful and insightful. He set a high water mark for the college, and left big shoes to fill.”

Markin will continue to work diligently until his last day at WSU—June 30. He recently described the challenges of his assignment as WSU Spokane Chancellor since Feb. 1, 2003 as “like being strapped to a bottle rocket.”

He has led that campus during times of great change and growth. Legislation enacted in 2004 removed the “branch” designation from all three of WSU’s newer campuses and outlined a new and closer relationship for Pullman and Spokane operations in teaching and research. WSU and Eastern Washington University signed a memorandum of understanding that lays out a process for management of the Riverpoint campus, including academic planning, cost-sharing, and capital development. And, the Spokane community embraced the concept of a “University District” centered on the Riverpoint campus

The Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the Doctor of Design headquartered at the Interdisciplinary Design Institute. Two new bachelor’s degrees were developed: the BS in Exercise Physiology and Metabolism, and the BA in Professional Development. Markin stressed the need for undergraduate degrees to serve as a base for the graduate programs that have been the campus’s primary focus, and took a hand in designing the curriculum for the professional development degree. Both have been approved by the Faculty Senate and await final approval by the HECB.

Markin also played an active role in the Spokane community as a member of the Regional Chamber of Commerce board and the Economic Development Council board, and as a key player in community leadership.

Former state senator and current Spokane Mayor Jim West says, “Rom Markin was the right person at the right time to lead WSU in Spokane. I personally will miss his active leadership and well-thought-out advice. I wish he’d serve a few more years as we put the finishing touches on the University District.”

When he was CBE dean, he led fundraising efforts that established several key distinguished professorships in business disciplines, launched innovations that incorporated computers and high technology in students’ curriculum, oversaw the renovation and expansion of the college’s classrooms and administrative headquarters in Todd Hall, and inspired hundreds of students and faculty.

What does he wish for the future of his beloved WSU community? “Funding that matches our leadership,” he says.

And, after such a long, industrious, and illustrious career, what will he do in his retirement?

“Refine the fine art of leisure and follow the sun.”