Who was Marc Hershman?

In addition to his academic and policy achievements, Hershman is remembered for being an exceptional mentor


Marc J. Hershman has been credited with turning coastal management into an academic field of study. He taught coastal and ocean law, seaport management and coastal management at the University of Washington (UW) for over 30 years. From 1993–2003, he served as director of the UW School of Marine Affairs (now known as the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs). He founded the Coastal Management Journal in 1972 and served as editor-in-chief through 2007. 

Hershman also devoted countless hours to advising students and mentoring colleagues. “He was very patient,” Tom Leschine, former UW School of Marine Affairs director, told The Seattle Times when Hershman passed away in 2008. “He was the best person with students, because he understood how they struggled to learn. He had a knack for working with them that much harder when they needed it.” Hershman’s commitment to fostering the next generation of marine and coastal scientists and policymakers is what makes having the Washington Sea Grant (WSG) Hershman Fellowship named after him so fitting.

“He had a special ability to connect with students at a human level,” remembers coastal scientist Simon Geerlofs. “I always felt Marc was happy to see me when I knocked on his office door and excited to think things through together — whether it was a review of a challenging article for the Coastal Management Journal, or planning a regional ocean governance workshop. He valued his students and gave us opportunities to contribute; he was excited about our ideas and happy to see us succeed.”

Hershman’s prominence in the coastal management field led him to a Presidential appointment to the US Commission on Ocean Policy in 2001, through which he provided insight on enhancing national ocean policy. He was also an active member of the Ocean Governance Study Group, an alliance of marine policy leaders at academic institutions across the country. From 2005–2007, he was involved in the Washington State Governor’s Project on Ocean Governance. 

At the same time, Heshman’s impact went well beyond his academic and policy achievements. “He was a great mentor,” Geerlofs says. “The WSG Hershman Fellowship is the perfect way to celebrate that legacy.”