Barton Weitz

BARTON A. WEITZ (1941-2018)

Bart Weitz was an exemplary scholar and mentor.  He got his BS in Electrical Engineering (course VI) from MIT, and MBA and doctoral degree from Stanford University.  Over the next four decades, Bart made UCLA, Wharton and University of Florida his home and he retired as the J.C. Penney Eminent Scholar Emeritus.  Bart was the Inaugural founder of the Miller Retail Center at University of Florida and served as its Executive Director till his retirement in 2012.

Gary L. Lilien, ISMS Fellow, and Distinguished Research Professor of Management Science at Penn State and cofounder and Research Director of Penn State’s Institute for the Study of Business Markets (ISBM) summarizes Bart’s contributions thus, “The contributions he and his students made to the fields of channel and retailing management, sales management, interorganizational relationships and marketing strategy are significant and be long remembered.”  Bart deepened our understanding “the role of inter-organizational relationships in Salesforce Management, Distribution Channels and Marketing Strategy,” as observed by Hubert Gatignon, The Claude Janssen Chaired Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, INSEAD (France) and husband of Erin Anderson, the second doctoral student of Bart Weitz, and a celebrated scholar.  Bart was eclectic and prolific and his contributions through over 80 journal articles and textbooks on retailing and personal selling have expanded our knowledge base in the areas of channel and retailing management, sales management, inter-organizational relationships, and marketing strategy. 

Perhaps his most impactful contribution to the marketing discipline are his doctoral students -- over 20 of them – who have added such depth and scope to the field.  Hubert Gatignon speaks to this, “In addition to his intellectual curiosity, his warm personality made him a delightful collaborator for his many colleagues and doctoral students.” Sandy Jap, Sarah Beth Brown Professor in Marketing at Emory University, echoes this, “He advised many doctoral students, all of whom were grateful to have trained with him.”

What makes Bart’s contributions an inspiration for ages is this: Bart’s personal attribute of fortitude, grace, grit and sunny disposition which enabled him to lead such a productive and engaged life in spite of the fact that he was seriously injured in a car accident at the age of 30 – an accident that left him paraplegic. Sandy Jap’s eloquent testimony is testament to the fact Bart’s life was such an inspiration, “Bart Weitz was first and foremost, an overcomer; tenacity and perseverance were his hallmark traits.”

Chronicling Bart’s remarkable mentorship of his own research scholars and others who sought his counsel, and Bart’s support for new ideas and approaches, Harish Sujan, Freeman Chair for Doctoral Studies and Research in Business at Tulane University, has this to say, “One of the doctoral students from the community (not Weitz’s student), Bart Devos, had shown that using Kurlian photography he was able to identify traits and typical emotional responses of salespeople.  Bart Weitz asked me to help Devos with independent coding. Without Bart Weitz's support and standing up for out of the ordinary, Devos would not been able complete his doctoral degree." Bart’s doctoral students reflect upon his mentorship with gratitude. 

For his impactful and sustained contributions, Bart was recognized and honored in many ways.  For a specific article as this, 1997 Journal of Marketing article on Interactive Home Shopping, Bart was recognized with the Journal of Marketing Paul Root Award in 1998 and the Louis Stern Award in 2005.  American Marketing Association (AMA) recognized Bart with life-time achievement awards for his contributions in Retailing and Pricing, Sales, and Inter-Organizational Relations.  AMA named Bart as the Distinguished Educator in 1998,  and elected him as an Inaugural Fellow in 2005.  In further recognition, AMA has renamed the O’Dell Award (which recognizes an article in the Journal of Marketing Research that has made the most significant long-term contribution to marketing theory, methodology, and/or practice) as Weitz-Winer-O’Dell Award.

Bart served as the editor of Journal of Marketing Research (1991-1994) and co-editor of Marketing Letters (19997-2006.)

What made Bart such a remarkably productive scholar and mentor?  His large-heartedness, curiosity, openness, and huge data base of knowledge.  Sandy Jap’s analytical reflection says it all, “He was a very inclusive individual, open-minded, and personable.  His breadth of knowledge and ability to speak to a wide range of research types, topics, and methods never ceased to amaze. He could always find a constructive comment and insight on virtually any topic.”

Bart and his wife, Shirley, were remarkable partners who gave so much to family, friends and the community, and this included their academic community – particularly the doctoral students.  Mita Sujan, Malcolm S. Woldenberg Chair of Marketing at Tulane University, a co-author with Bart and wife of Harish Sujan who was Bart’s doctoral student recollects this with much affection and joy, “Bart and his wife, Shirley, opened their homes to his doctoral students who “graduated” to becoming close friends.  One of the great life lessons was observing the Bart and Shirley relationship. It was filled with candor, honesty and trust. Staying with them to work with Bart and enjoy the many adventures Shirley organized was an incredibly happy and productive time.  We were really lucky to have them in our lives.” 

Gurumurthy Kalyanaram (G.K.), a colleague of Frank Bass and a fellow MIT alumnus, notes this, "Often the true measure of a human being is in the resilience that she/he demonstrates in life. Here, Bart was one-of-a-kind.  Despit serious impairment to his mobility caused by the recklessness of another person, Bart was relentlessly energetic, purposeful and forward-looking.  His contributions to organizational and strategic elements of salesforce management and channels of distribution are enduring and deep."

Russ Winer, William Joyce Professor of Marketing at New York University and Weitz-Winer-O’Dell Award namesake, in a personal recollection describes Bart’ legacy thus, “I met Bart at the 1975 AMA Doctoral Consortium at Cornell; he was Stanford's representative.  At the time, the consortium was small, maybe 35 Fellows, so you got to know all of them.  Not only was Bart smart, but he had a very gregarious personality and a great sense of humor so everyone liked him.  We remained friends over the years as we met at conferences and other venues.  I always admired his ability to be so productive and travel so much despite his disability.  He also accomplished so much at relatively younger "ages" professionally such as being JMR editor, winning the Irwin award, etc.  His doctoral students revered him and rightfully so.  He is missed by many.”

Gary Lilien tells us poignantly why Bart will be remembered for ages beyond his specific contributions, “Bart Weitz’s passing was a great loss to the marketing field.   Bart will likely be remembered even longer for who he was:  a genuine, caring person, who had time and a good word for all.  He drew a crowd and brought joy and happiness wherever he went.   I am one among many who will deeply miss him and the joy and good spirit he shared with all.”  

Gurumurthy Kalyanaram (G.K.)
Dated: September 2021