From occasionally delivering babies in the ER to delivering the final report of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, Martin has had several leadership roles at the University. Retiring after 23 years, he most recently served as UVA’s vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, having taken over permanently in 2011 after two years as interim.
Martin’s efforts have advanced diversity, equity and inclusion in many areas of academia and administration on Grounds. He has built bridges in medical service and education, across departments and units, with the local community, in the nation and beyond.
“In the emergency department, the community comes seeking help, and it is a diverse population,” said Martin, who led the department for 10 years before serving in diversity and equity posts on the academic side. “Working in the Office for Diversity and Equity, I could go to the community.”
Martin first retired Jan. 1 from both the Emergency Department and the Office for Diversity and Equity, but UVA President Jim Ryan asked if he would come back to the latter until the next vice president was selected.
When his successor, Kevin McDonald, who will start Aug. 1, was announced, Ryan said, “I want to thank Dr. Marcus Martin for everything he’s done to help this university live its values.”
Martin said, “The six staff members in addition to myself strive to synergize efforts related to [Office for Diversity and Equity] goals across Grounds and in the community through numerous initiatives and programs.”
He has overseen the University’s Diversity Council, supporting or establishing several committees and programs to involve other under-represented groups, including: Disability Advocacy and Action; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender; Women’s Leadership; and the National Science Foundation-funded VA-NC Alliance, a multi-institutional program to increase the number of underrepresented students in STEM disciplines.
Since 2010, Martin and his staff have worked with UVA and local organizations to plan the annual Community Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which they developed into a two-week series of events across the University and local community. His office also coordinated a community health fair that became part of Charlottesville’s annual African American Cultural Arts Festival. In 2017, the event’s organizers gave him the “Keeper of the Village” Award.
Under Martin’s leadership, the Office for Diversity and Equity addressed the University’s history with slavery, especially through the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, resulting in courses and exhibits addressing UVA’s past and in the conception and construction of a Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, slated to be completed this fall.
For the memorial, the President’s Commission reviewed a student initiative, then brought together members of the UVA and local communities to explore ideas with the memorial’s design team. With a restorative justice model in mind, the commission created local and national advisory boards, plus a community relations task force.
Martin also encouraged and included a new alumni group, the IDEA Fund, to participate in the acknowledgement of the University’s past history with slavery and segregation. The group was responsible for the recognition of Henry Martin, the former bell ringer for the University, with a plaque installed next to the UVA chapel in his honor.