Mr. James C. Martin and his late wife, Mary, have a very important and storied leadership role in the arts at East Tennessee State University. This has been recognized by the Tennessee Board of Regents with the establishment and founding of the "Mary B. Martin School of the Arts" at ETSU. The Marins' visionary support enabled ETSU to undertake some groundbreaking approaches for educational possibilities in the arts, as well as to create opportunities for artistic and cultural enrichment for the people of our region and beyond.
Mary was a member of the ETSU class of 1962. During the time she was employed as a chemical technician at the Eastman Chemical Company (then Eastman Kodak) in Kingsport, she earned her degree in Chemistry at ETSU. She took night classes so she could keep her full-time position at Eastman. She held tow United States patents for her inventions. Although chemistry was Mary's career field, she had a lifelong interest and passionate commitment for the arts, especially for the arts, especially music and storytelling. Sadly Mary passed away in 2008; yet her legacy for the arts lives on vibrantly and creates many possibilities for ETSU as an arts and arts education leader.
Jim Martin confidently felt that Mary's legacy and passion for the arts could live on in perpetuity at her alma mater. To this end, in memory and honor of Mary as an ETSU graduate and as a champion for the arts, Jim established a $1 million endowment to ensure greater collaboration and coordination among the various ETSU arts programs and initiatives. The "Mary B. Martin School of the Arts" endowment shall promote the arts in higher education and shall also strengthen and diversify ETSU's position as a leader for the broad enhancement of the arts for the people of our region. Jim's vision and support have already enabled ETSU to host impressive artistic and musical performers, who would typically present their performances in more major metropolitan areas of our nation. This enables the students and people of our region to experience and enjoy these performances here at home.
Another critically important objective of the "Mary B. Martin School of the Arts" at ETSU is to reach out to the communities in our region and build partnerships from these ETSU academic programs with the arts organizations. Jim's forward looking stewardship and Mary's living legacy for the arts are truly transformational here at Mary's university and will continue to be so for the future.
Jim and Mary's other interest for ETSU fro giving over the years include Chemistry, WETS-FM, and the B. Carroll Reece Museum. Jim has also supported the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough with a naming gift in Mary's memory.