The loss of Steven Frumkin, dean of the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology, who passed away from Covid-19 on July 23, has elicited numerous remembrances from across the college. Both well-liked and highly respected by students, faculty, and staff, Dean Frumkin led the Baker School, FIT’s largest, for eight years. In that time, he worked with the school’s chairs and faculty to fulfill the college’s strategic goals and his own future-focused vision.
Here, we share some of our community members’ memories of Dean Frumkin and his inimitable humor and generosity of spirit. To share your own memory of Dean Frumkin, please send it to [email protected].
Jay Baker, Philanthropist
Patty and I have had an incredible relationship with Dean Steven Frumkin from our time working with him at FIT. As dean, he accomplished many things at FIT. Two that were very special for Patty and me was getting the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business accredited, and for also keeping the Baker Scholars program very up to date. Most of all, we will miss his friendship and his terrific warmth whenever we met him. We will miss him very much.
Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President, FIT
With Dean Frumkin’s passing, we have lost a most valuable member of our community. Through his leadership, he not only earned the trust, affection, and respect of faculty, staff, and students, but also shaped the future of his school.
Deborah Beard, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Technical Design
I remember Steven always willing to help everyone. He kept humor in everything. Worked hard on accreditation.
Charles Flug, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Fashion Business Management
There is little I can say that has not already been said but I would like to relate to you my first meeting with him. I was called up to his office as part of the CCE process. He looked over the student comments and then said your students seem to really like your style. You must be an easy grader. He then asked which firm I began my career with. I replied Montgomery Ward he then replied “out of business.” I then mentioned Charming Shoppe. He replied “out of business.” I mentioned Frederick Atkins and he replied “out of business. Flug, it seems you have done a good job of putting people out of business.” I asked him where he started and he told me, to which I replied “out of business.” He then mentioned a few mills that he worked for, to which I replied “out of business.” We looked at each for a moment and he began laughing and I started laughing. His last comment to me was some industry we chose to work in.
Robin Sackin Litwinsky, assistant professor and chair, Fashion Business Management
When I was traveling a few years back, Steven told me to give my girls his number in case of an emergency when I was away.
They never used it when I was away…but…one day I was in Steven’s office and his cell phone rings and he answers it…it is his personal phone so I start to leave. He motions for me to stay. So I do. I am listening to his conversation and he is saying things like how are you doing? What’s going on? How can I help you? Yes, men can be jerks, etc. So I thought it was his daughter calling. But about three minutes into the conversation I get up to leave again and I hear him say…oh she’s right here and hands me the phone…It is [my daughter] Dina! I am saying to her why are you calling Steven…She says, I tried to get you but you were not answering…Steven told me I could always call him. And what is she calling about? She had a fight with her boyfriend. I thought of this story today and it made me smile.
Robert Norman, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Fashion Business Management
We talked about everything from industry related topics to family. His stories always made me chuckle. He would call me sometimes just to hear my thoughts on some new fashion technology he heard about. Asking “do you think this is going to big or just a fad.” Lol..
I felt a kinship with him and it hurts to know I didn’t get to have one last lunch with him.
Taur Orange, director, Office of Educational Opportunity Programs
Utterly heartbreaking. Witty, real, savvy, approachable…what a loss for us.
Melissa Perilli, adjunct assistant professor, Fashion Business Management
I had the chance to meet Dean Frumkin when I was going up for my CCE. We spent the whole meeting laughing about E.J.’s the sock company he worked for many years ago. He was quite a character and so very important to FIT.
Jean Marc Rejaud, assistant chair, Advertising and Marketing Communications
Steven was always recognizing achievements by his team members…never taking credit for himself but sincerely believing in the recognition of his team members as the drive to succeed.
His sense of humor was legendary. Numerous times at meetings he would be listening to me on a presentation and, at the end, he would ask me to do it again but in English this time.
Steven’s analogies were colorful. He used the analogy of the frog and the boiling water to explain that small change increments enable a project to, in the end, fully succeed, as such small increments do not generate hard push backs to changes…just to increase the temperature of a bowl of water with a frog into the bowl will make that the frog stays even though the temperature increases.
Steven was very clever and knew how to navigate an organization to still pursue some high profile/ change-focused projects like the B&T accreditation project (and others).
Steven was a caring person. When I lost my mother at the beginning of the year, he sent me emails and texts telling me that I had friends at FIT, and when I came back from France after the funerals, he hugged me. That tells it all.
Steven is a person that I will keep in mind and my heart for the rest of my life. Someone that I will continue to look at for insights and guidance for my personal and professional projects…. “What would Steven have said or done?”
Dean Frumkin’s family, in collaboration with the FIT community, has established the Dean Steven Frumkin Scholarship Fund at FIT in his memory. For more information on the scholarship or to make a donation, please visit https://impact.fitnyc.edu/stevenfrumkin or by sending to: FIT Foundation, 227 W. 27th Street, C907, New York, NY 10001.
Some Favorite Clips of Dean Steven Frumkin
On December 7, 2019, Dean Frumkin was on NPR’s Weekend Edition for a segment called “Sock It To Me: In Praise of the Evergreen Holiday Gift.” The three-minute interview captures Dean Frumkin’s humor and personality that will be greatly missed.
Dean Frumkin welcomed the entering students of Fall 2020 during Virtual Admitted Students Day Weekend this past Spring.