In Memoriam: Robert O’Keefe

Professor Emeritus Robert O’Keefe

Professor Emeritus Robert O’Keefe

Professor Emeritus Robert O’Keefe, a marketing faculty member for 40 years, passed away at age 84 on Feb. 11, 2020.

O’Keefe taught principles of marketing and other marketing courses to generations of business students during his four decades at DePaul. He served as an associate dean and director of DePaul’s graduate business school, where he spearheaded the development of the weekend and full-time MBA programs. Numerous university committees throughout DePaul also benefited from his active participation.

A highly regarded professor and prolific researcher, O’Keefe frequently reached out to junior faculty members to collaborate on papers for publication.

“Bob was the ‘grandfather’ of our department,” says Steve Koernig (MBA ’94), chair of the Department of Marketing. “He was a mentor that cannot be replaced. He worked with numerous faulty members on research projects, and helped junior and senior faculty succeed throughout the tenure and promotion process.

“On a personal note, his wisdom and institutional knowledge was instrumental in helping me as I moved into the department chair role,” Koernig added. “He will be greatly missed.”

O’Keefe was named a St. Vincent de Paul Professor in 2004 to honor his commitment to teaching and productive scholarship, and he won several annual teaching awards from the college and university during his tenure. DePaul recognized his research achievements by presenting him with its Spirit of Inquiry Award in 2015. Upon his retirement that year, DePaul also gave O’Keefe its highest honor, the Via Sapientiae Award, to recognize his many contributions to the university.

The award citation noted that O’Keefe inspired scores of students to become marketers. “In your exemplary career at DePaul,” it said, “you demonstrated how a professor can balance rigorous academic scholarship with a strong dedication to teaching and university service.”

Services were held for O’Keefe on Feb. 17, 2020. Click here to share memories.

By Robin Florzak

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