James C. Martin and the late Mary B. Martin have a unique and storied leadership role for the arts at ETSU, a fact recognized by the Tennessee Board of Regents with the establishment and founding of the "Mary B. Martin School of the Arts" at ETSU. Their support enables ETSU to undertake some groundbreaking approaches for educational possibilities in the arts and foster collaborative relationships among ETSU and a diverse spectrum of artists. Their generosity has also created opportunities for the 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), she earned her degree in Chemistry at ETSU while taking night classes so she could keep her full-time position at Eastman. She held two United States patents for her inventions. Although Mary sadly passed away in 2008, her legacy for the arts lives on vibrantly and has well positioned ETSU to be an arts leader in arts education.
A critically important objective of the "Mary B. Martin School of the Arts" is to reach out to the communities of our region and build partnerships from these ETSU academic programs with the arts community and organizations in our region to host performances and events. Many of these performers would typically perform in major metropolitan areas, but Mary's legacy and Jim's philanthropic leadership have made those renowned performers available to the people of the East Tennessee/Southwest Virginia/Western North Carolina region.
Jim and Mary's interests at ETSU in giving over the years also include Chemistry, WETS-FM, and the Reece Museum. Jim has also supported the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN, and Milligan College with naming gifts in Mary's memory.
Jim's forward-looking stewardship and Mary's living legacy for the arts are truly transformational for the arts here at ETSU, Mary's university, and will continue to be so for the future well being for the arts in higher education. It will also consolidate ETSU's position as the region's leader for the broad enhancement of the arts for the people we serve. It is truly a model for higher education in Tennessee and on a national scale as well, for which we are profoundly grateful to Jim and Mary Martin.