(UPDATE 11/18/13: The Emerson community, along with Karl Baehr's family and friends, will gather Tuesday, November 19, from 2:00-4:00 pm, in the Bordy Theater, 216 Tremont St., Boston, to celebrate Karl's life.)
The Emerson community is mourning the loss of Karl Baehr, senior executive-in-residence in the Marketing Communication Department, who unexpectedly died on November 13. He was 54 years old.
In a letter to the community, Emerson President Lee Pelton called Baehr a “marvelous colleague and mentor.”
“He will be greatly missed,” Pelton wrote. “Our community here, especially students and alumni whom Karl taught and mentored, and his partner organizations, will feel his loss in so many ways.”
Pelton said the College would hold a memorial to celebrate Baehr’s life in collaboration with Baehr’s family, but details have not been finalized. Assistance is available for students through Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services (617-824-8595) and for faculty and staff through the Employee Assistance Program offered by Human Resources.
An outpouring of condolences has begun on a Facebook page set up by students.
“Karl was a valued colleague, great friend, and an untiring advocate for his students and programs,” said Donald Hurwitz, interim chair and associate professor in the Marketing Communication Department.
“He loved music, had a twinkle in his eye all the time, and he loved his sons,” said Cathy Waters, associate chair and senior executive-in-residence. “He was a great dad.”
“He loved music, had a twinkle in his eye all the time, and he loved his sons. He was a great dad.”.”
Baehr brought a wealth of business and entrepreneurial experience to Emerson when he became a faculty member in 2004, and is credited with developing the College’s Business Studies and Entrepreneurial Studies minors in Marketing Communication.
Baehr also oversaw the highly successful Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship (E3) program in which students develop business ventures—more than 30 percent of which were launched, despite a national average of about 4 percent success for such programs.
“He was very active in practicing entrepreneurship himself,” Hurwitz said. “He had multiple generations of students in a very short window of time representing various stages of business success.”
Waters said Baehr took “a fatherly pride” in his students. Just last week, Baehr took a group to an etiquette event, showing them how to act when having dinner with business executives.
“He knew the nuts and bolts were so important,” Waters said. “Anyone who’s worked with Karl really feels connected to him. His passing is going to be hard on a lot of people.”
Baehr had more than 25 years of experience in new venture creation, according to his online biography. He was once recognized as a Top Professor of Entrepreneurship by Fortune magazine for his work at Emerson.
In 2006, Baehr cofounded InterTerraNMG, a new business development firm active in media, publishing, entertainment, medical technology marketing, and investment banking. He earned a PhD in communication from Regent University and an MA in the diffusion of innovations from the University of New Mexico, where he studied with renowned scholar Everett M. Rogers. Baehr’s BA was in radio, television, and film from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Hurwitz called Baehr “an easy guy to let your hair down with,” and said he often collaborated with him on how to grow Emerson’s business–related academic programs—including just two days ago.
“I thought he was looking well,” Hurwitz said. “He was looking ready for the next fight, in the best sense of the word.”
“This is totally stunning news,” he continued. “He will sorely be missed. It’s a very big hole he will leave behind.”
Hurwitz said he is in the process of meeting with the dean of students and the Office of Academic Affairs to figure out a plan to best accommodate Baehr’s current students.
“It will take a few days to get around all of this,” he said. “We want to make sure his students’ needs are covered in the classroom and in the program overall.”