The Legacy of Gerardo Marín

“He made you feel like things were conquerable.” “He led by listening.” “He made sure folks felt anchored here.” “I can’t even imagine how USF would look today without him.” These are some of the words spoken about the late Gerardo Marín, former university administar and psychology professor, who jump-started institutional changes that are still felt today at the University of San Francisco. Marín worked to make USF a diverse and just university through mentoring, diversifying the hiring process for professors and campaigning for the largest grant for USF of its time that served underrepresented students and faculty. Marín passed away on Jan. 14, 2018. A memorial service was held for him on March 8 at St. Ignatius Church.


Like branches from a tree, Marín’s influence touches several impactful programs within the College of Arts and Sciences – whether it’s directly through his work, like the establishment of the Martín-Baró Scholars Program, or through a faculty member who was brought to USF via the grant Marín campaigned for. This million dollar Irvine Curriculum Developmental Grant helped to diversify faculty and students while providing the resources for marginalized persons to succeed in higher education. The grant’s funding, which expired in 2007, was supplemented by the university afterwards in the interest of continuing programs Marín brought in. Upon Marín’s retirement in 2015, the dissertation program was renamed the Gerardo Marín Diversity Scholars Program. In full, the dissertation program has brought over 35 academics of color to USF for a year to work on dissertations, 16 of whom remained at USF well beyond their dissertation time.


Of these 16 academics, a significant portion have continued Marín’s legacy to serve USF students and faculty of color. Chair and professor in the sociology department, Stephanie Sears, a recipient of the Irvine Grant in 2002, is the director of the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars Living-Learning Program. She also is one of the leaders behind USF’s new Black Achievement, Success and Engagement (BASE) program. You can read the Foghorn’s coverage of BASE here. Roughly three-fourths of the founding committee for the critical diversity studies major – a major of its kind rarely found outside of USF – are recipients of the grant Marín worked towards, as well. The director of critical diversity studies and faculty in the sociology department, Evelyn Rodriguez, came to USF on an Irvine Grant in 2004. Rodriguez credits Marín with showing her that she didn’t have to choose between her academic and social justice work – the two could go hand-in-hand. Rodriguez said, “Gerardo didn’t drop a pebble. He dropped a boulder.”


Another profound change made to USF by Marín are writing retreats for faculty of color. Faculty writing retreats started, in Marín’s words, from a “terrible accident.” Near the end of an academic year, Marín discovered there was leftover money from the Irvine Foundation Grant. He went to then-Associate Professor in psychology Pamela Balls Organista and asked what they should do with the remaining grant money. “What is the thing that usually is in need for underrepresented faculty?” She immediately said, “Time!”


One of the hurdles of being underrepresented on a college campus lies in the name “underrepresented.” Many of these faculty members are spread thin to represent and speak to issues unique to their identity – issues often in high demand. This often leaves little time for their own academic work. The writing retreats offered these faculty members what Balls Organista personally knew they needed most: time. Balls Organista ran faculty writing retreats for 15 years after. Balls Organista is now a professor of psychology and associate dean for the social sciences.


Balls Organista is also a dear friend of Marín’s for over two decades and co-author of four books of Marin’s 135 publications, along with Kevin Chun, a former Irvine fellow and current professor in psychology. “[Gerardo] would always say, ‘I’m learning lots.’ You wouldn’t think that someone so learned would say that,” Balls Organista said, “But this was Gerardo.”


Marín is survived by his partner of 24 years and Professor of social ethics Lois Lorentzen, as well as his daughter, Melisa Lindamood; son, Andrés Marín; and granddaughters, Sienna and Sasha Lindamood and Mia Marín.


This article has been corrected from it’s original print issue. Marín campaigned for a grant, not a fellowship.


Featured Photo: Gerardo Marin passed away on Jan 14, 2018. SHAWN CALHOUN.


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