Management professor Keenan dies

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Photo of Dr. J. Michael Keenan.

J. Michael Keenan

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. J. Michael Keenan, a long-time faculty member in WMU's Department of Management died July 28 in Kalamazoo. He was 82.

J. Michael Keenan

Keenan first joined the WMU faculty in 1962, the year his department was established at the University. Over the next three years, he helped design the management basic curriculum. He then took a position as an operations analyst at the Stanford Research Institute from 1965 to 1968, before returning to WMU.

He retired in 1999 after 31 years of service to the University, earning professor emeritus status. During his tenure at WMU, he served as chair of his department, a member of the Faculty Senate and a member of the executive committee of the WMU chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Keenan also served as project director for Labor '75, the official Western Michigan University Diamond Jubilee project. Labor '75 was an all-volunteer effort during the yearlong celebration to mark WMU's 75th anniversary with a series projects of lasting value to the University and community.  

In 1992, Keenan pioneered a distance education model at WMU by offering a graduate-level management seminar taught completely by what was then called electronic mail—now commonly called email. Participating students needed access to the statewide network MichNet, so they were clustered in cities where WMU had regional locations and offered dial-up access. Keenan would occasionally lead the course from such locations as Berkeley, California; Billings, Montana; or his own dining room table.

Keenan also was an early advocate for experiential learning, developing a management course that over the years has allowed WMU students to work directly with entrepreneurs to conduct feasibility studies. That work has led to hundreds of small business startups.

Keenan earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Colorado and his doctoral degree from Ohio State University. His area of focus was business organization.