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Maxwell F. Marcuse

(1889 – 1978)

LIM College President 1939 - 1972

During his lifetime, LIM College founder Maxwell F. Marcuse was an exporter, an advertising director, an author, and a retail and marketing educator. His life experiences and connections in the retail industry culminated in 1939 with an idea for a new and experiential way of teaching. The foundation he laid has resulted in the education of thousands of LIM graduates in all areas of the business of fashion and its related industries.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1915, Maxwell joined the U.S. Customs Service as an assistant to Surveyor of the Port of New York Thomas E. Rush, who gave Maxwell glimpses into the importance of New York City in international commerce and trade.

Taking this perspective with him, Maxwell moved to the position of export manager for the Prest O’Light Company and then into the advertising department of R.H. Macy & Company. Leaving R.H. Macy & Company, Maxwell accepted the position advertising director for Oppenheim, Collins & Co., a major women’s specialty clothing store.

During his years at Oppenheim, Collins & Co., Maxwell began his foray into the world of higher education. In 1926 he helped CCNY’s president promote legislation creating the Board of Higher Education of the City of New York. He was appointed a trustee of that board in 1929 and served for six years, becoming well-versed in education issues from the administrative and legislative points of view. He gained a teacher’s perspective as well by lecturing on advertising and retail at CCNY.

Executives from NYC’s largest department stores (including Gimbel Brothers, Saks, R. H. Macy & Company and Bloomingdale’s) recognized Maxwell’s unique background and challenged him to solve the problem of the lack of organized training programs for retail employees. Confident he could respond to that challenge, Maxwell’s idea of what would become LIM College came in response to the industry’s needs.      

Maxwell believed a cooperative education experience was the perfect approach. He was a pioneer in combining classroom teaching with on-the-job work experience, while his industry connections offered a wealth of opportunities for guest instructors and internships.

In 1939, what was then known as the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM), and would later go on to become LIM College, opened at 45 West 34th Street. As articulated by Maxwell F. Marcuse himself, LIM’s prime objective was to “train young women…and to place them in lines of activity which lead to the more interesting and the better paid positions in the fashion merchandising field. This highly practical training…enables graduates to progress rapidly into the more responsible executive positions.”