Obituary — Marvin G. Parnes


Marvin G. Parnes, who served a variety of administrative roles at U-M, died March 13 at age 74 after a prolonged illness.

He was born June 3, 1949, to Leon and Susan Parnes in the Bronx, New York. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1970 and began doctoral studies in 1973 at U-M’s Program in Social Work and Psychology where he met his wife, Jane Hassinger. They married in 1981, and daughter Joanna Hassinger Parnes was born in 1984.

A photo of Marvin G. Parnes
Marvin G. Parnes

Blessed with boundless energy and a commitment to service, Marvin was drawn to organizational development and management roles. In 1985, as assistant director for educational programs in U-M’s Housing Division, he directed a successful collaboration (Rescomp) with U-M’s Computing Center and Apple Inc., introducing computers to residence halls with the aim of building computer literacy across the student body.

Other efforts focused on significant social issues, including gender-based violence, leading to the 1985 creation of U-M’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. 

In 1986, Marvin was recruited to be assistant to Linda Wilson, vice president for research. Later, as associate vice president, he assumed many roles in the evolution of U-M’s research infrastructure, including chair of OVPR’s Faculty Grants and Awards, director of Research Development and Research Administration, and director of Technology Transfer.

He provided critical support for the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Program in Complex Systems, Business Engagement Center, and the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy.

Marvin enthusiastically promoted the arts and humanities by increasing research support and collaborating on programs such as ArtsEngine, the Arts Alliance of Research Universities, and recently as interim director of U-M’s Arts Initiative. From 2013-16, he was managing director of the Institute for Social Research.

Marvin was much loved in the Ann Arbor community where he was president of the board of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce in 2005 and served three terms as president of the board of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, helping the festival remain fiscally secure during the COVID-19 years.

Marvin also loved to play. He was an excellent cook (which he considered play) and created countless dinner parties and celebrations. He enjoyed biking, hiking and swimming.

He loved travel and accompanied Jane on several of her research trips throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including to the Democratic Republic of Congo where they consulted with Nobel Laureate Dennis Mukwege at Panzi Hospital. After his daughter, Joanna, and her husband, Alex, settled in Oakland, California, and especially after the arrival of twins Cora Jane and Ruby Isabel in 2018, their home became the destination of choice.

Marvin deeply believed that “everyone matters,” a conviction that animated his relations throughout his life, including with his caretakers in his last days. He is survived by his wife, Jane; daughter, Joanna Parnes, and son-in-law, Alex Klein; granddaughters Cora Klein and Ruby Klein; brothers Robert and Joey Parnes; and numerous sisters-in-law and brothers-in law, nieces and nephews, cousins, and loving friends.

Marvin’s life will be celebrated at a memorial gathering from 3:30-5:30 p.m. June 2 in the Michigan Union’s Pendleton Room. Memorial gifts can be made online to the U-M Arts Initiative and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

Submitted by Jane Hassinger


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