Research Fund Commemorates Professor Michael LaTour’s Legacy at Ithaca College

By Dan Verderosa, June 21, 2016

Research Fund Commemorates Professor Michael LaTour’s Legacy

Ithaca College Professor of Marketing and Law Michael LaTour passed away in November 2015, but a memorial fund established in his name ensures that his presence will be felt for years to come. The Michael LaTour Memorial Fund for Research Excellence will recognize the research and accomplishments of faculty in the college’s School of Business.

 “He wanted not to be forgotten by people and for the award to continue his memory and his passion for research,” said his wife, Kathryn LaTour.

Grants from the fund will support professors performing high-quality, impactful research that can be published in top-tier academic journals.

LaTour himself was a dedicated researcher and prolific author who had a significant impact on the field of advertising. His research focused on consumer responses to promotional stimuli and spanned a range of topics, including the portrayal of women and sex in advertisements as well as memory and the effect of marketing information on consumer decision-making.

Over the course of his career, LaTour had articles published in several high-profile journals, including the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Advertising. In 2014, the Journal of Advertising named an article he co-authored, “Fuzzy Trace Theory and ‘Smart’ False Memories: Implications for Advertising,” its article of the year.

Kathryn recalls that few who knew LaTour when he was growing up expected him to pursue a career in academia. She says that he was a bit of a jock back then. At his high school reunion, a former teacher thought LaTour was joking when he said that he was a college professor.

Raised in a blue collar, lower-middle class family, LaTour paid his own way through college to become a professor. His father worked in the food and beverage industry and would regularly read the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, the journal which Michael would go on to edit for two years.

“He was really proud that he was able to be editor of that journal and come full circle,” said Kathryn.

Kathryn attributes LaTour’s ability to succeed in academia to hard work and natural curiosity. She says that he was passionate about everything he did and “lived a full life in the time that he had.” In fact, his passion was so strong that he continued performing research even in his last days. An article he co-authored is expected to be published later this year.

“He’d want people to know that he never gave up the fight,” said Kathryn. “He fought to the very last minute.”

LaTour taught at several universities before arriving at Ithaca College in the spring semester of 2015, but felt like he had found a home in the School of Business. He especially enjoyed its spirit of collegiality and positive environment for collaboration.

“To have that taken away so early was really sad because he wanted to make more of an impact,” said Kathryn. “The memorial award is in part to support research and make sure that it’s an important part of the School of Business.”

“Mike was recruited to Ithaca College to be a mentor to a number of younger, very active researchers who have joined the faculty in the School of Business over the past several years,” said Sean Reid, dean of the School of Business. “The Michael LaTour Memorial Fund for Research Excellence is a concrete example of how seriously Mike viewed that responsibility.”

The first grant from the memorial fund was awarded to Duncan Duke, assistant professor of management, to support his research on microfinance in Mexico

“Mike was my neighbor and a good friend – his office was right across from mine,” said Duke. “I’m really happy to have received this grant, and I think Mike would agree that this research is a good use of the funds.”