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Martin mile marker

Much like the bike trails he navigates through Des Moines, President Earl “Marty” Martin’s first 100 days at Drake have taken him for a few curves, but its been mostly a smooth ride so far.

President Martin speaks to Drake alumni in downtown Des Moines.
President Martin speaks to Drake alumni in downtown Des Moines.

“I’d say my time at Drake is off to a wonderful start,” Martin says. “I’ve received such a warm welcome from campus, the community, and alumni.”

Evidence of that warm welcome fills his calendar: Small group discussions around campus, one-on-one conversations with community leaders, ribbon cuttings, dedications, and speeches blanket his days. Through all of it, Martin has been focused on one thing: building strong relationships with the campus community and Des Moines. He’s taken part in 32 “community conversations” with different areas of campus, encompassing faculty, staff, and students; he’s asked them all the same question: “What do we do best, and what do we need to do better?”

While not a direct result of those conversations, movement is already taking place to answer the latter. Operational changes underway include a revised budgeting process and a strong plan to improve technology services on campus, with a specific emphasis on classroom technology.

Martin’s duties also provide opportunities for fun. His Twitter account (@drakepresident) showcases selfies, photos with students and bulldogs, even a shot from Taylor Swift’s Des Moines concert.

“One of my favorite events to be part of so far was the unveiling of our new live mascot, Griff. It was a fun event and brought a real infusion of school spirit to campus. Plus, Griff is very lovable and a bit of a ham.”

The two newest Bulldogs on campus, Griff and Martin have a few similarities. While both level-headed and stoic—Martin’s military days have left their mark—just get them on a topic they’re excited about (it’s treats for Griff), and you’ll see a different side.

Case in point: One of Martin’s favorite discoveries so far was the Parents Weekend Cabaret, a show written, directed, produced, and performed by Drake fine arts students. It’s an experience he enjoys sharing and is already looking forward to next year.

“It’s just one of those events I kept hearing about, and it was wonderful to experience it along with Laura.”

So what’s on the docket for Martin’s next 100 days? He’ll continue to establish relationships and look for areas of collaboration and improvement in existing and new partnerships across campus and in the community. Meanwhile, he’s laying the groundwork to get the campus thinking about the future and institutional improvement in a different way.

The upcoming months are also focused on getting to know at least some of Drake’s thousands of graduates. He and Laura will travel to Cuba in December with a group of alumni, and he’ll hit five states in about as many months as the guest of honor at Office of Alumni-hosted events in Phoenix; Naples, Fla.; Chicago; Kansas City; and Denver.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know alumni and their passion for this place,” he says. “I want to keep them in the fold and knowing they always have a home at Drake.”

Explore the Drake University Alumni Flickr gallery for more photos of President Martin meeting Drake alumni.