By Cole Norum
Drake University announced today that it has named Earl F. “Marty” Martin its 13th president. Martin will succeed David Maxwell on July 1, ushering in a new era for the Des Moines institution, which has spent the last 16 years under Maxwell’s distinguished leadership.
“I am honored and humbled to be joining the Drake community at such an important and exciting time for the University,” Martin said at a press conference held in Cowles Library.
Martin joins Drake in the midst of its continued progression toward completion of the $200 million distinctlyDrake fundraising campaign as well as the undertaking of key initiatives like STEM@DRAKE.
Larry Zimpleman, chair of the Drake University Board of Trustees, introduced Martin before a packed Reading Room that buzzed with anticipation.
“With his vision and experience, Marty is well-equipped to build upon the successes the University has realized in the essential areas of fiscal and academic strength and strategic growth,” he said.
The University Campus Committee, an 11-member group, comprised of students, faculty, staff, administration and alumni, felt confident that Martin’s experience at several higher-education institutions, including his last five years as executive vice president of Gonzaga University, will directly translate to success at Drake.
“We know that under (Martin’s) leadership Drake will strengthen its position as one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher education and an integral part of the Des Moines community,” said David Miles, chair of the Presidential Search Nominating Committee.
Drake’s substantial improvements in academic reputation, and its transition from a university saddled with considerable fiscal concerns to a position of financial security, prompted an extensive national search for its next president. More than 90 candidates were considered. The committee reviewed members of both academic and non-academic backgrounds, said David Wright, a professor at Drake and member of the search committee.
“This has been the most intensive search I’ve ever been part of,” Wright said. “The Board-Nominating Committee … fostered a collaborative dialogue that allowed all of us to participate in an open and exciting discussion on what Drake’s future should be.”
The committee’s choice has already been met with some frustration and cautious optimism, reflections of the closed search process and decision to not nominate a non-white American male as its newest leader, despite purportedly considering members of all demographic quadrants.
“I’m excited that we finally have an answer … I’m disappointed that there was not more of an emphasis on a diverse candidate,” said Olivia O’Hea, a junior majoring in public relations and law politics and society. “I’m sure (Martin) will be an ally, but do I know he will be committed to representing all the voices on campus? I hope so, but I can’t know that.”
In an exclusive interview with The Times-Delphic before the official announcement, Martin stressed his dedication to promoting inclusion and awareness, especially regarding the LGBT community.
“We had many students who come from many different walks of life to include LGBT students, and they were integrated into our community just like anyone else,” Martin said of his time as professor and later associate dean of academic affairs at Texas Wesleyan School of Law. “They became a very important, critical part of it.”
As executive vice president at Gonzaga University, Martin has overseen the construction of a new university center replete with an LGBT center.
President-elect Martin will continue to foster dialogues and communications with representatives of the student body, faculty, staff, alumni and administration in the months leading up to July 1.
“I look forward to working … to ensure that Drake is positioned to thrive in the 21st century, a time that will continue to be marked by great change and innovation.”