Jim Taylor, a marketing expert who used his expertise to improve education, died on June 5, 2016. He was a fixed-term professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education and received a master’s and Ph.D. in Communication from Michigan State University.
Taylor provided support to the College of Education as a consultant to the Office of K-12 Outreach, led by Barbara Markle, and for several major education research studies, including the TIMSS international mathematics study led by William Schmidt. In that study, Taylor coined the phrase “mile wide, inch deep” to capture the idea that mathematics education in the United States attempted to cover too many topics at each grade. More recently, Taylor worked on studies related to the Common Core and rebuilding student enthusiasm for mathematics in Michigan.
Over his career, Taylor served as chief marketing officer for companies such as Ernst & Young, held leadership positions with public polling and marketing firms and developed the Global Study of Affluence and Wealth for luxury brands. He also was one of the top-five business futurists in America, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Markle said Taylor was a gifted communicator who could transform how educators convey the impact of their work.
“He could help you see things through a different lens,” she said. “He gave people the words to create so much more meaning, with courage, and in a way that was better understood by the public.”
Taylor was currently assisting the Office of K-12 Outreach with a partnership to improve Flint Community Schools, and he was passionate about helping the district respond to the city’s water crisis.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: The Jim Taylor Memorial Fund for the Children of Flint, Flint Community Schools, 923 E. Kearsley St., Flint, MI, 48503. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on June 23 at Trinity Church in Southport, Conn.