By Danny Priest/Springfield Student Staff
This story is a complete surprise. Let me explain.
If you’ve read our content before or spent some time on Alden Street, then you’re probably familiar with the name Marty Dobrow. Communications professor, outstanding journalist and also the faculty advisor to our newspaper.
Marty has held that last role since the spring of 2002, just a few years after he joined Springfield College in 1999. He’s often told us that it’s the role he relishes most. The close bonds with students, the commitment to excellent reporting and watching the paper grow and evolve over time has been incredible — in his words.
The feeling is mutual. I know I speak for our entire staff, past and present, in saying that Marty has done so much for all of us. His constant support, willingness to help and commitment to being there for us makes our lives infinitely easier — even if it means more journalistic work at times, it’s always the right thing to do.
A few months ago, Marty told us his time as newspaper adviser was coming to an end after this semester. Don’t be alarmed, he is still going to be teaching at Springfield College and he’ll certainly be around the paper, but that formal advisor role is being handed off.
The news was a shock to us and I think we were all a little sad at first because we’ve loved working with Marty, but he told us he feels as though the paper is at a strong enough point where this change can go down without an issue.
One of things Marty constantly has told me is that the paper is at its best when we need him the least. It’s student driven and while his ideas and voice help, he always deferred to us on the final calls about what to write and publish.
We needed to make use of that philosophy one more time here with this piece. Marty knows nothing about this, not even the fact that it’s taking up the bulk of our final paper, but we hope he can look back on this and enjoy it.
It’s hard to encapsulate his near 20-year run as advisor on our own, so we reached out to various alumni and colleagues and asked for their favorite “Marty the advisor memory” from their time on Alden Street.
What follows are some incredible stories and they paint the picture of how much Marty has meant to our paper for so long.
You see, we have this tradition at The Springfield Student. At the end of every year, we head over to Marty’s and just hangout for an afternoon. Eat some pizza, play some wiffle ball, then for the seniors, Marty presents his “scrolls.”
They’re these short passages Marty writes reflecting on the students’ career and they are always so touching. So, we want these entries to be considered as Marty’s scrolls.
That little end of year gathering isn’t mandated by the College. Marty hosts on his own time because he cares. It’s a small gesture, but it has always meant a lot to us.
Similarly, these scrolls are short, but they hold tremendous meaning and impact, we hope.
We fully appreciate everything Marty has done for us as an advisor and we’re sorry we didn’t tell him about this little plan sooner, but some things are better left unsaid.
Here’s to you, Marty.
Danny Priest (Class of 2021)
Marty, Marty, Marty. It’s difficult to put Marty’s impact on the student newspaper into words. The amount he cares for the paper and us, not only as students, but people first, is incredible. In addition to being a master editor and top-tier teacher, Marty really just knows how to get us involved as students. About a week into my freshman year at Springfield College, we had an artist by the name of Judy Shintani come to campus. She had a gallery that honored Japanese-Americans who had been incarcerated during WWII. Somehow, I ended up as the person who was responsible to go and check out the gallery, then interview Shintani and write a story. To put it bluntly: I had no idea what I was doing. I came to Springfield because I wanted to write about sports, I knew almost nothing about WWII or art. I remember on the long, cold walk from Reed Hall over to the art exhibit in Blake Hall, I ran into Marty on the corner of Wilbraham and Alden. There, in the cold, I got a little two-minute crash course in journalism. Marty told me the importance of observing her artwork carefully, asking thoughtful questions and just making the story my own. It was quick, but it was so calming and a complete confidence boost to an intimidated freshman about to write his first ever story for the student newspaper.
A couple of days later, the story ran on page one of that week’s paper. I was in, totally hooked to writing/helping the newspaper, and I think Marty knew it, too. It’s that type of moment that shows why Marty is a special advisor. He’s not afraid to challenge us or to push us out of our comfort zones and it’s because of that we grow as journalists and people. In the pre-COVID Springfield College world, I always loved the fact that if you went into Weiser Hall and up to the second floor, there was a high chance Marty’s door was open. Always willing to talk, to listen and to be there for us as people first and students second. Marty’s impact on The Student cannot be understated and I will forever be grateful that Springfield College brought us together. He’s an amazing advisor, but an even better person and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me and our staff.
Jack Margaros (Class of 2021)
Coincidentally, I got paired with Marty during June Orientation to make my freshman year class schedule. He asked me what classes I had in mind, and I immediately named two classes that he happened to be teaching: Intro to Journalism and Sports Writing. Marty threw both fists up in the air with excitement. I didn’t understand at the time what I was getting myself into, because the classes were back-to-back, at 9:30 and 11 in the morning. There I was, in my first semester of college, spending three hours in the basement of Weiser Hall every Tuesday and Thursday, learning about the art of storytelling. I knew I wanted to pursue journalism as a career coming into Springfield, but Marty was the one that cured any remaining doubts. From those classes, I got involved with the newspaper, and was hooked.
It’s difficult to encapsulate how much Marty has impacted The Springfield Student, and the editors he oversaw, in his years as an adviser. I am completely convinced he has read every word of every article that’s been printed. He had this ability to catch the smallest of errors that the six of us editors didn’t even realize. Marty was intensely committed to not only the newspaper, but forging relationships with every student who was involved with the paper. He was never shy to shamelessly plug The Student in his classes, which served as our main recruiting tool in my four years. He was always available and willing to help, but also gave us the freedom to take risks and forge our own path, and that’s all you can ask for.
Irene Rotondo (Class of 2022)
The first time I met Marty Dobrow was before I even was a student at Springfield College. I was freshly graduated from high school, thinking that a Communications/Sports Journalism major would be a great opportunity for me to expand my communication skills (ridiculously believing I’d never touch upon the subject of journalism), and was visiting Springfield College on my major’s Accepted Students Day. Never, ever, did it cross my mind that I would be writing for a newspaper, nevermind becoming a Co-Editor in Chief of the paper my senior year. And all of that is because of Marty.
He set my schedule for me the day I met him, promising me an advanced career in journalism from the start and stacking my classes so that was possible. I was excited about the classes he signed me up for, but that was nothing compared to my shock when he sat down at the table with my mom and I in Cheney Dining Hall later that same day. All Marty wanted to do was talk to me, to learn my story and what my life was like. At first, I was a little nervous about the interrogation– but I quickly learned that’s just how Marty is. He’s a journalist to the very core, and seeking the truth and reporting it just runs through his veins like a super power. To not only be advised by Marty Dobrow, but to be friends with him (because I consider him to be more than just my professor to me) is for him to be completely involved in your life– not just academically, but socially and otherwise. He will never miss a beat, because he genuinely cares and wants to know what’s going on with you.
When I finally got to campus that fall, I wasn’t expecting Marty to remember me. We had only met that one time, and I knew that I could be just another number of the journalism students who went to Springfield. But Marty never made me feel like that. He has a way of talking to you, showering you with exorbitant praise, while simultaneously telling you what you needed to work on to become the best you can be.
I quickly became immersed in The Springfield Student even in my first week on campus, because Marty pushed me to come down to the newspaper office “just to check it out.” He believed in me from the beginning, helping suggest that I interview Dr. Calvin Hill for the “Bow-Tie Wednesday” story, the first article I ever wrote for the paper. The rest is history, a history filled with memories of figuring out Ubers in San Francisco on our ACP Conference trip, the occasional pizza party in the newspaper office, Zoom meetings throughout the pandemic, midnight pancake flipping (haha), and endless loving support for everything the team and I do.
Marty, I am so thankful for you and everything you’ve ever done for myself and the paper. I know you like to say it’s when the students “need you the least” that the paper thrives the most, but that only happens because of you. Without you, none of us would be the future and present journalists we all are today. Your constant teaching moments and words of wisdom will stay with me forever, and I am honored to have been taught by your expertise these last three years.
Good thing you’re not going too far. 🙂
Joe Arruda (Class of 2022)
Oh, Marty – Martín, I should say. My guy. The GOAT (Greatest of All Time – still don’t know if you know what that means).
This will be my senior scroll to you since it may take some begging to get one of my own. I’ll never forget Intro to Journ, fall semester 2018. My first ever college class. A few weeks in, we had an assignment to write a story about Meghan McCain’s tribute to her father at his funeral – no, you won’t need one of those for a while, though it feels kind of similar. I was eager to finish my assignments in those days (you were probably the only professor giving them that early anyway). The very next class, you turned off the lights and on the projector. And, for some reason, my assignment was on the board. Less than two weeks into college, I was getting exposed at 8 in the morning. But you said it was promising and asked me to join the newspaper.
I remember walking back to my room after that class, probably alone, avoiding my classmates whom I barely knew at that point and I assumed they saw me as the weirdo (the newspaper is not for weirdos!!!). But I was definitely hyped. I texted my mom to brag that Marty, the one who’d convinced her at an open house that I should go here instead of Syracuse, had given me a compliment.
I was quiet then, until Gabby told me to talk more at our first meeting my sophomore year – still, I don’t think you really realized what you were getting yourself into until our trip to San Francisco. I remember cracking jokes as we trekked miles throughout the city, adding the little accent mark to your name and running my mouth nonstop. I wasn’t shy anymore, you had broken me out of my shell – as you have tremendously done on so many occasions throughout your career.
Here we are, approaching the end of what was the most trying, wacky year. And, in the most 2020-21 way, you are leaving The Student (at least going as far as you can, which – as we all know – won’t be far at all).
When you first told the four of us, I was shocked, my jaw dropped and my Zoom froze. I’m not going to lie here, I felt like you’d jumped ship. That Danny and Jack were graduating, so you wanted to end on a high note before Irene and I got control and hit an iceberg or something. But, the more you try to convince me otherwise, I understand that it is really the opposite. The paper is moving quickly – in a positive direction – and we are excited to be in the driver’s seat. Though my motion to change the name to “The Springfield Chronicle” hasn’t gained any momentum, I am excited and honored to have earned enough of your trust to carry the paper into a new era.
Thank you, Martín. Keep exposing freshmen so we can have more writers next year.
Gabby Guerard (Class of 2020)
I was tricked into joining the newspaper. “Hey Gab, why don’t you swing by my office?” Marty said. Next thing I knew, I was the women’s cross country beat writer for the newspaper. I’ll never understand how he uncovered my writing abilities after only reading five sentences from a random free write on my first day of Intro to Journ. He has some sort of sixth sense. A journalistic hunch, perhaps. Just like that, I went from having zero intentions of joining the newspaper to Editor In Chief by the time I was a senior. That conversation was just the beginning of many talks we shared in his office, though. There was the time my first PSJ story idea came to life and I only had two days to gather all my reporting. Then about a week later when he tore my draft apart (and rightfully so). Not to mention the countless Tuesday afternoons when the news budget had fallen to pieces and we needed to brainstorm ideas to save the section. But, there were a lot of talks that had nothing to do with newspaper or even writing.
Marty was there when my hometown best friend died. Then again when my field hockey career came crashing to an end from a concussion. He never shied away from the uncomfortable — something he always teaches his students. There were also the talks that weren’t even in his office. At the gym by the treadmills. Lot 2 between random cars. The top floor of the Union. The Learning Commons next to the printer. The stands by Stagg Field. The ramp leading to Blake Arena. Pretty much every path across campus. Some of our best conversations were completely spontaneous, and they usually ended with us laughing about something — particularly the anticipation of the student-faculty basketball game that never happened, despite months of trash talk. Though these moments may sound trivial, they were the pillars of our relationship — one that was built upon a deep understanding of who we each are as people. It was honest. When he was piling on too much I would say, “Marty, you’re killing me.” But, he wasn’t afraid to push me back, either, especially when he knew it’d make me better. It was personal. We both found ourselves sharing deep-rooted stories that stemmed far beyond any sort of byline. I felt understood, which is rare to find in a college professor. And it all started with a simple “Hey Gab” after Intro to Journ.
Evan Wheaton (Class of 2020)
It was your typical Wednesday night scene in the newspaper office. My fellow editors and I were at the table with papers – and Subway wrappers – scattered between us and our laptops. As we were grinding away putting that week’s edition together, Marty came down to check in with us. He told me he had just read a story of mine in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where I was interning at the time. The story was on the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl victory parade in Boston, which I attended and interviewed a lifelong fan who finally made the trip to Massachusetts from Georgia. I didn’t have a real plan heading into that assignment, but things worked out and it was a great experience. Marty said to me that “I went far out of my comfort zone and produced a great story because I relied on my instincts.” Before I could think of a response, Marty then told me he was proud of me. Aside from my parents, I never really heard too many people say they were proud of me before then. The confidence boost was needed, but Marty always knows what to say. Whether it was something about a story I was working on, or help with the juggling of schoolwork, editor duties and internship stuff, or even issues outside Springfield College, Marty was an advisor that made me and all his other advisees the priority. That’s why the Springfield Student has grown so much over the years, it had an advisor who allowed his student editors to run away with it and make it their own. The final words Marty said to me as my teacher were, “So proud of the writer – and the person – you have become.” Well, I’m very proud of the advisor – and person – Marty is.
Vin Gallo (Class of 2019)
I just want to say, first off, I’m honored to write Marty a scroll of his own.
He’s a tough act to follow, I could never write one like he can. When I got mine my senior year I folded it, because I wanted to make sure it’d fit in my wallet. Just something to turn to now and again.
Anyway, here we go, let’s get into it:
Marty writes with his voice.
There’s not a person I’ve met who writes and story tells like Marty. For him, it’s as easy as breathe in, breathe out.
He could take the overused ‘why’d the chicken cross the road’ joke and make it into a Pulitzer. Lit Mag stuff.
The man speaks in descriptors.
There’s meaning, in every word he chooses. Everything has wonder to it.
I think the most valuable aspect of Marty the professor – Marty, the teacher – has always been how he can make a writer out of you, without telling you, “do this, never do that.”
I learned show, don’t tell, by listening to Marty tell stories in class. He showed us, “this is how you do it,” just by doing him.
I was this bitter, disgruntled 18 year old kid, when Marty and I crossed paths. I had practiced my journalism game for a few years at that point.
Had the curiosity. But at that point, hadn’t really tapped into my writing potential.
I was thinking about how much I needed help when I was sitting in this guy’s office.
On my left, I’ve got Jackie Robinson and all the work he’s done on baseball staring back at me. On my right, there’s the original Springfield Student staff from like 100 years ago and stacks of papers that seem to go back at least 20.
I needed help. And he told me in the exact analogy: he needed people who were going to jump right in the water – just jump right in, instead of testing it out first.
He’s watched the field beat me up. He’s watched me beat myself up. But if it weren’t for Marty, I wouldn’t have found my answer to “why am I here?”
Right now, I’m writing from the middle of nowhere New York, doing what I can to crack down on injustices. I want to hold people accountable.
I know Marty’s done the same. He’s surfaced history and topics that people want to bury. And he’s still doing it. Still having those tough conversations.
I can’t wait to follow along and find out how far he and Kris can go with Liberty, Justice and Ball.
When I got home from visiting Springfield all those years ago now, after he ran the “jump right in” analogy by me – when I typed up a thank you email and sent it over to him –
I wanted him to know I’d jump right into water, into stands — whatever. I was ready.
So, I wrote out, “I won’t let you down.” (Like I was trying out for a team or something, I don’t really know what I was thinking)
He wrote back, “…we (Marty, Kyle, Jody, Coach) won’t let you down.”
You didn’t. Thank you, Marty.
I’ll see you when the whole COSJ family can meet again. But until then, I’ll refer to that pink slip of paper in my wallet.
Gage Nutter (Class of 2019)
Sometimes I look back on the last few years and think about moments, people and experiences that changed the trajectory of my career and just how different everything could be.
What if I didn’t send that email? What if I never asked that question? What if I never met this person?
There are at least half a dozen of these moments I can think of off the top of my head, but the very first one was when I naively asked Marty if it was “too late” to join the student newspaper club after our Intro to Journalism class freshman year.
Marty let me know that, of course, it was not too late. I went to the Abbey-Appleton basement that week a little intimidated and not knowing what to expect, but the decision was the first push that put me on my current path.
I like that moment a lot because I think of it as the exact moment that my love for journalism and storytelling started, even though at the time I had no idea that was the case, and because Marty didn’t reflexively laugh at me for asking the question.
It also ranks high in the Marty Memories power rankings. The first time Marty told our Intro to Journalism class that we needed, like, 10 pages of notes for a project is pretty high up there. I’m pretty sure I immediately started sweating when he said that.
Trying to teach Marty how to ride an electric scooter in San Diego is also in the top tier alongside any of the times he would come down to the newspaper office on Wednesdays and we would scramble to be sure it looked like we were doing work and not goofing off.
Marty is obviously still going to continue to be a professor at Springfield and will be involved with the college for years to come, but his presence in the newspaper office on Wednesdays was crucial to what has made The Student what it is today. Whenever we had a difficult question about a story or situation, Marty was the guy to bring it to and he always had a good answer.
The student newspaper has been guided by his steady hand for years and it won’t be exactly the same without him, but even with him taking a step back his impact on how the newspaper operates will be felt for a long time.
Maybe with your extra free time you can finally learn how to ride that electric scooter.
Shawn McFarland (Class of 2018)
The best way to describe what type of person, professor and advisor Marty is begins with the first time I met him. I was a week into my freshman year as a sports management major at Springfield when I realized that journalism was what I wanted to pursue. I knocked on his office door in Weiser Hall, and within about a half hour he had me signed up and on my way to my first COSJ class which began an hour later.
A week later, I told him I wanted to do an internship the following semester. Without hesitation, he began putting me on the path to one.
The guy barely knew me, right? And yet there he was, going out of his way for me like we had been acquaintances for years.
My story is not unique. He puts the students he teaches — even those he had never met five minutes prior, and in particular those who he advised at The Student — on a road to success. Not a single student who wanted to write for The Student was ever turned away. He believed in them, and worked with them to mold them from doe-eyed freshman into future staff writers and editors, challenging them to move out of their comfort zones and chase the difficult stories.
It’s been almost three years (gasp) since I last served as editor-in-chief of The Student and worked with Marty, but every day I’m reminded of the words he preached in his classes and in the newsroom: report from abundance, act with polite persistence, and most importantly be a dogged journalist every time you step up to the plate for a story.
I know I’m not alone in this. You’d be hard-pressed to find a graduate of the COSJ program whose career doesn’t have Marty’s fingerprints all over it.
Greg Allen (Class of 2018)
In 2016-17, I had the great pleasure of being Editor in-Chief of The Springfield Student. It was a year of political chaos, a year of the Me Too movement, a year that our country had felt an overwhelming amount of racial injustice. And Springfield College was not immune to these issues. Our staff was young. We knew we couldn’t shy away from covering these sensitive topics, but we also didn’t know the best way to approach them. Enter Marty Dobrow. I will always remember his amazing ability to aim us in the right direction, provide a bit of guidance, and then make us figure out the rest. And, to me, that was an absolutely incredible way to learn, grow, and better myself as a journalist and a young man. He found the perfect balance of providing assistance and letting us take charge and make our own decisions. It was a formula that led to meaningful, deep, thought-provoking, and well-reported journalism. But Marty’s ability to guide and advise only scratches the surface of how he impacted my experience at Springfield College. He helped me discover my passion of social justice and equality. He wrote me countless letters of recommendation. He showed me the art of writing and the magic of reading. And he hosted some of the best wiffle ball games ever played. I am forever thankful for a number of people at Springfield College. Many people shaped who I am today. But no single person played a bigger role in my growth than Marty Dobrow. Cheers to a great run.
Andrew Gutman (Class of 2015)
I almost passed out once during my first month as EIC of The Springfield Student. I wasn’t (too) stressed or unable to cope with the long hours. Marty had just asked me to read one of my run-on sentences aloud. Of all the tidbits of wisdom from Marty I absorbed during my three years in COSJ — “all stories are worth telling” and “chip away at the non-elephant” are two that come to mind — sentence-gate is seared into my psyche. (For the record, I’d be amazed if Marty remembers this.) Seven years later, I still find myself occasionally reciting those five words: “Read that sentence out loud.” It’s not just a reminder to proofread your work (though that’s also important), but to take a breath, think before you speak, and respect the power of the written word. I don’t doubt that Marty, at the moment, was simply frustrated with my poor grammar. But when you respect someone — a person who leads from the front, teaches from the heart, and puts his students first — it’s easier to hear what they’re really trying to tell you.
Though Marty is stepping down as the paper’s advisor, the students who populate its cubicles are armed with Marty-isms aplenty — and The Student is better for it.
Joe Brown (Class of 2014)
As The Springfield Student newspaper advisor, Marty was the ideal blend of patient mentor and critical editor. He didn’t force his fingerprints all over the paper, but rather, observed from a distance, not too far away to step in and offer insightful feedback to help us approach a story from a new angle, but never suffocating our vision, allowing us to learn and grow with each week’s publication.
He guided me through some potentially controversial reporting, including the Cheney Hall staff’s fight to form a union and the Springfield College police arming its officers with guns. Without his steady hand, I know my articles would have fallen short. He pushed me to perfect every element of my storytelling, using his trademark “polite persistence” to push my writing just a little further than I thought possible, always pointing me in the right direction but forcing me to find the right words myself. As a former Editor-in-Chief, I will always admire that quality. After all, an editor’s goal is to guide your writers by teaching them how to craft better stories through their own words. Marty perfected that art.
I’ll always remember our final issue. I prided myself on catching every error (both a blessing and a curse as my editorial staff would tell you, especially as I continued to pour over stories past 2am in the morning…sorry Jon, Andrew and Pat). However, in our final issue of my senior year, we mixed up the photos of two feature stories. I was devastated. Marty took me aside and told me that one mistake could never detract from how proud he was of what we had accomplished that year. The joy he took in our work on the student newspaper was so evident in that moment. To me, that is all I could have ever asked for in a newspaper advisor – someone who put his students and their accomplishments first.
Thank you, Marty.
P.S. Hey Marty…any suggestions on how I could improve this? Wouldn’t feel right not to ask for your edits one final time.
EIC, Class of 2014
Jon Santer (Class of 2014)
Seriously, the only reason that I am in the position I find myself in now-a-days is because of Marty Dobrow. I took Marty’s Sports Writing class as a Physical Education major trying to fulfil my Writing Across Curriculum (WAC) general education units. My roommate (and teammate) and I liked that the title of the class had “sports” in it. We were just going to sit in the back and collect our easy A’s.
This ended up being a life-changing experience, as quickly Marty recognized my talent and encouraged me to re-evaluate my career path. Two more years as an undergraduate student, transitioned to five years that Marty and I worked together in a professional capacity, and he has certainly become a friend and mentor. Marty is someone that I have utmost respect for. His professionalism and passion for journalism sets the pace in Weiser Hall. I will never forget the countless meetings in his office as our conversations competed against the warm-up tracks on Berry-Allen Field. The Springfield Student has thrived under Marty’s leadership, and the path that he has paved for many Communications and Sports Journalism students at Springfield College will continue to be an outlet for opportunities after graduation.
Tarek Fattal (Class of 2014)
One of the first classes I ever took with Marty Dobrow was in the fall of 2012, a sports writing class. The topic at the time was either beat reporting or game story writing, but in the text we were studying from, he directed us to a game story written by NY Times writer Selena Roberts. The lede to her story describes New York Knicks basketball player Allan Houston in a clutch moment as such: “…Houston put down a forceful dribble, curled around Dan Majerle as tight as a stripe on a candy cane and discovered a shaft of light.”
The small grin on Marty’s face as he read the lede outloud was priceless. Even in my inexperience, his appreciation for writing made me realize how good it was. Roberts goes on in great detail about Houston’s heroics that night. If you know Marty, you can picture him sharing that gamer like our class was at the Louvre, admiring some of the world’s greatest art. Looking back now, and knowing Marty much better, it’s a small, funny – but impactful – memory I’ll never forget.
Marty’s apparent love for sports journalism and teaching proved to me I was in the right place, no matter how far from home I was. That was always felt in his guidance, no matter the role.
-Tarek Fattal, LA Daily News
Justin Felisko (Class of 2012)
Polite persistence. A tentpole lesson taught by the astute Marty Dobrow and one that I surprisingly had to use against him plenty of times during my time with the Springfield Student. When Marty recruited me to come to Springfield College, I told him the student newspaper needed a website. Marty, of course, gave me the best “coach speak” spin that the program was building toward great things.
Well, it took three years, but I eventually got my way and SCstudentmedia.com launched in 2011. However, it would not have happened without Marty’s support and protection. He went to bat for the website, and the entire COSJ program, with college administrators for three years to make this dream a reality. He promised a college media website would bring to life hundreds of stories to potential students and alumni all over the world for the betterment of Springfield College.
I can speak on the behalf of every editor of the Springfield Student, and every student of Marty Dobrow, and confidently say Marty ALWAYS has his students’ backs. He appreciates the art of the story, but he values and loves his students – often putting their best interests in front of his own – even more.
(Spoiler, I think Marty has fought a lot more battles that many of us at The Student don’t even know about…)
Marty has sacrificed plenty of hours and endless nights for the Springfield Student, and I know I will forever be grateful for the mentorship, father-figure and friend Marty Dobow evolved into during my four years at Springfield College.
The Declaration of Independence had Thomas Jefferson, and The Springfield Student had Marty Dobrow.
Justin Felisko (Class of 2012)
Greg Cameron (Class of 2010)
In my college years, I jokingly called Weiser Hall my home away from home. I used to visit between classes and always made it a point to stop in and see Marty Dobrow to talk about everything from the previous night’s games, stuff that I was writing for the Springfield Student or homework I may have forgotten to write down.
These conversations happened often, but one really sticks out in my mind, which started simply enough when I dropped off a term paper. It was the tail end of junior year and I was fresh off of a typical college breakup, a semester that saw me uncharacteristically withdrawn, and about to embark on an internship in a large media market that I was for sure nervous about starting.
Marty just knew that that stuff was weighing on me and we talked it out. He might’ve even given my final essay for Advanced Journalism a decent grade — even if I titled it the same as the “mission statement” that Tom Cruise writes in Jerry Maguire.
I truly believe that the conversation that Marty and I had was the perfect accelerant for a great summer of writing and reporting during that internship. It was the exact pep talk I needed after closing the book on a rough semester.
The best coaches help their players find their game in moments when it seems like it’s dried up like a puddle in the desert. At a time when I needed some good Wooden-esque coaching, I found it in a place where I found so many good lessons about journalism and life, Weiser Hall.
Here’s to the Springfield Student coaching career of Marty Dobrow, and the many journalism careers he’s helped spark by simply having an impromptu and honest conversation!
Kerri Vatour (Class of 2007)
The memory that first comes to mind when I think of Marty’s time as advisor came not in the newspaper office, but on the softball diamond. During my sophomore and junior years, the students on the newspaper – all sports fans but few actual athletes – decided to form an intramural softball team. We adopted the name Marty’s Mashers (later the Dirty Martinis) as an homage to our advisor and then immediately brought shame to his name as we became the worst team in the history of intramural softball. Dropped flys. Throwing errors. Swinging strikes where the batter landed on the ground. All were regular occurrences. Our only victory came when the other team forgot to show up. At some point, someone realized faculty members were eligible to play intramural sports and we immediately began pestering Marty to make an appearance, not really thinking he’d actually do it. Then one week, as we gathered for another hilariously painful loss, Marty strode up to the field wearing sweatpants, a t-shirt, and an ancient glove. He was ready to go. Never had an athlete left more heart on the field. He was a solid line-drive hitter at the plate and a scrappy outfielder in the field. At one point, he dramatically dove for a fly ball and we wondered how we’d explain to the Springfield College administration that we might have killed our advisor. But he caught it, doing his part to make our loss at least slightly less embarrassing. For me, Marty was so much more than an advisor of the newspaper. He guided each of us not only in the production each week but in our respective careers and even served as a sort of journalistic father figure to every single person on the staff. I cannot imagine the Springfield Student without Marty behind the scenes, but with the legacy he helped create, I know it is in good hands for years to come. –Kerri Fleming Vautour ’07, former Student Editor-in-Chief
Matt Tuthill (Class of 2003)
Marty Dobrow’s way with journalism students surpasses any image that might be conjured when you hear the words “great teacher”. His relentless focus on what is right with a piece of work versus its shortcomings—and his uncanny ability to only address those shortcomings in a constructive and diplomatic way—reflects much more than the actions of a man who would simply rather not hurt a kid’s feelings.
Or a man intent on maintaining his bulletproof status as everyone’s favorite teacher.
Make no mistake—and with no shred of disrespect meant to the many fine professors at Springfield College—Marty is the favorite of just about every student who ever took one of his classes or worked with him at the paper. In turn, an army of undergrads and alumni currently walk the Earth in the confident belief that they were his favorite pupil. (A juvenile assertion to make, not to mention absurd, as anyone paying any serious attention would immediately have known that I was his favorite.)
Such unflagging loyalty can only be commanded by a truly authentic human being. He’s not just trying to be nice. He acts in accordance with a worldview that prizes faith in the future and the generally good nature of humanity.
Cynics have long cloaked their attitude as realism, but maybe it’s just laziness. After all, if one man can’t make a difference, then quitting is always a valid choice, especially when the outcome of the effort is so uncertain. In observing Marty, you realize just how much more work the optimist has to do. Success in journalism is guaranteed to no one, regardless of talent, meaning Marty’s greatest attribute is his ability to muster so much enthusiasm for prospects who don’t immediately exhibit all the obvious hallmarks of greatness.
To that end, he never sat me down and gave me a talking to about the half-assed things I sometimes wrote or the lackluster effort I generally gave to The Student. Of course he knew the wider professional world wouldn’t be so kind to me. I can only suppose he didn’t see the sense in chiding the seedling to grow faster. In fact, I’m certain he decided a long time ago to simply provide the water and sunlight for everyone around him, come what may. Not all of them would be able to understand or fully appreciate what he offered. But for those who did, their potential would increase exponentially.
And then maybe some of them would turn out to be great writers and journalists like him.
Or maybe something even better might happen.
Maybe they’d decide to nurture everyone in their orbit in the same way that Marty does.
The story of any college newspaper is one of the students being empowered to take ownership, for better or for worse. In Marty’s time as advisor to The Student, his particular brand of empowerment—support and encouragement free of judgment and cynicism—hasn’t just made the whole endeavor more fun, it’s often turned out to be life-changing.
And here you were, doubting the impact a college newspaper could have.
Matt Tuthill (’03) is the VP of content and communications for Chef Robert Irvine, and co-author of the books Fit Fuel, Family Table, and the upcoming Nothing is Impossible.
Rob Bradford (Class of 1992) NOTE: Rob and Marty did not cross paths at Springfield, but they maintain a close relationship to this day as Rob frequently visits Springfield College to talk with students.
“I am jealous. There I said it. I am jealous that when I went to Springfield College, Marty Dobrow was nowhere to be found. I needed a guy like Marty. You have to understand, when I was the sports editor for the Student newspaper nobody was telling me where to put the punctuation or that I really shouldn’t be putting peoples’ names in print in exchange for free beer. There was something to be said for the real-life experience SC gave me, no doubt. But, boy, I could really have used a guy like Marty. So when I swung back through campus all those years later and saw the journalism empire Marty had built I was so very happy, and so very jealous. To have somebody who cared so much, who knew so much, who seemed so interested is such a valuable piece of the puzzle. I have seen the impact on students who have entered into their professional lives, and the ones whose enthusiasm and expertise continue to be built at the Harvard of Alden St. I can honestly say that one of the highlights of each year is when Marty allows me back on campus to catch up, while getting a chance to see the next wave of standouts. I tell the same stories. I give the same advice. And I always leave with a smile on my face. I’m not alone. Marty has always done that for people. At least I got a taste of the excellence 30 years later. For that, I thank Marty. I will always consider him one of the best I have ever been around.”
Kyle Belanger (Colleague)
As the iconic advisor for the award-winning and toast-of-the-campus Springfield Student newspaper, Marty Dobrow has struck a perfect balance. His leadership and guidance of the countless students who have seen their bylines appear in print over the last two decades has shaped lives, launched careers, and improved communities far and wide. But what makes Marty’s leadership even more special is the way he does not tout his own role in the process. Scores of former Student staffers have gone on to newsrooms across the country, touting Marty as a key ingredient to their development. Meanwhile, Marty has remained the steady and even mentor, evolving alongside the industry he has sworn to advance. He encourages his writers to face big topics, to dig deep, and to tell stories well and responsibly. He models the newsroom experience for each of his writers. He cultivates a better future for us all through this work.
And we are all better because of him.
Thanks so much, Marty.
Laura Dubowski (Colleague)
It was predestined that I would like Marty Dobrow. You only have to look at our last names to believe we must be related somewhere along the line. Also, he was the one who, in the spring of 2017, asked if I might be interested in working at Springfield College. The rest is COSJ history. Marty was warm and welcoming. But, I soon learned he was much more. Marty is one of the best writers I have been privileged to know. Whether he’s writing a book, a magazine article, a newspaper report, editorial or speech, his words are perfect. Even his emails are examples of elegance, wit and love for the written word. But above all, Marty Dobrow is a kind and gentle man. Please look up the word ‘mensch’ in the dictionary. In short, it is a person of integrity and honor. Marty is a mensch of the highest order.
Missy-Marie Montgomery (Colleague/Wife)
I have loved watching the energy and passion you have put into working with students over our (now 22 years!) at Springfield College. Chief among your many passions has been working as the advisor to the Student Newspaper. The students in that group have become like members of our extended family. Your famous “scrolls” given to each student at the end of her/his senior year— (a tradition involving wiffle ball, pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and the reading of scrolls in our living room)—is a time-honored ritual that always elicits laughter and tears. I have loved sharing this ride, a little bit, vicariously through you. You have touched the lives of so many beloved students, shepherding them into internships, jobs, and careers, and I wonder if they know how much a part of our lives they become.
And on a personal note to his students: as much as Marty pours himself into his work, and fills students with advice, knowledge, stories, history, wisdom and humor, he does that at home, as well. The man is an absolute riot to live with, and he really knows how to meet a day. We fell in love at Springfield College, we got married at Springfield College, and we live just two miles away. Our lives have been made so much richer, in all ways, because of this school and the students in it.
Photo: Irene Rotondo