STORY BY JESSICA LYNK
Earl F. “Marty” Martin III is no stranger to change.
Throughout his life, Martin has spent a few years in law school at the University of Kentucky, a few more at Yale University for his advanced law degree and then six more overseas working for the Air Force Judge Advocate General corps.
On July 1, though, Martin underwent a new change. Martin became the 13th president of Drake University.
Although he may have begun a new chapter through his life at Drake, his past life still serves him well.
“Just living overseas for six years was life shaping, life changing,” Martin said. “That is cliché to say, but it just gives you a whole other perspective.”
Martin’s time in the Air Force JAG corps gave him more than just a new perspective. He learned to be mission orientated, which will serve him here.
“It is not about any kind of personal agenda or personal desires I might have. They are really irrelevant,” Martin said. “It is all about ‘Are we able to deliver on that mission promise that we made to our students and our families?’”
As Martin makes his transition to his new role as president, he has started and will continue having community conversations in front of a group of around 30 faculty and students.
“It starts with all these conversations and visits that I am having and coming to understand what the possibilities are,” Martin said. “The whole purpose of that is to better understand the place, the people, and to work with the community to articulate a vision for the future.”
Some students have expressed concerns about past problems that Martin hopes to address. One of those is diversity.
“A lot of students love claiming they have friends who are people of color,” junior broadcast news major Nadia Valentine said. “However, that doesn’t necessarily make them automatic allies. It’s more than a conversation piece. It’s a promise to listen and to ask questions.”
Martin wants to help open up the path to listening and questions, so no students feels neglected.
“We want to make sure every single student here is welcomed and supported and sees that pathway to success. [We don’t want there to be] any obstacles that in any way are driven by issues around equity and inclusion,” Martin said.
Another concern for students is the rising cost of tuition.
“It’s hard to go to school and work knowing that tuition is always rising,” junior public relations and magazine double major Sarah Mattes said. “It puts a lot of pressure on myself and I am sure other students.”
Martin wants to make that pressure worth while.
“It is an expensive proposition to put on the program that we put on, especially one that is the quality that Drakes is, so the tuition reflects that,” Martin said.
“It (tuition) does represent a very wise investment to these are outcomes (jobs, graduate school, professional programs) that students are able to achieve.”
A Drake education may be an investment in Martin’s opinion, but that doesn’t mean he takes that lightly.
“We keep that front of mind that we are entrusted with those funds to use them to great effect in furtherance of the educational program,” Martin said.
Although students have expressed concerns about Drake, Martin has felt nothing but welcome.
“Everybody is invested in this place and they are very welcoming and very enthusiastic about me being here and that is so appreciated,” Martin said.