Marty Martin joined Drake University as its 13th president in July 2015.
Education & Previous Service
An accomplished academic administrator, dean, and professor, Martin joined Drake following 10 years at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. He served as executive vice president at Gonzaga from 2010 to 2015, after serving as acting academic vice president from 2009 to 2010 and as dean of the School of Law from 2005 to 2010.
Prior to Gonzaga, Martin spent eight years (1997-2005) as a professor of law at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and served as associate dean for academic affairs for his last two years. Before beginning his academic career, he served for eight years as an active-duty U.S. Air Force staff judge advocate officer in England, Germany, and the United States. Martin served an additional 12 years in the Air Force Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2007.
Raised in Hartford, Kentucky, Martin received his bachelor's degree and a J.D. from the University of Kentucky, making him a fourth-generation attorney in his family. He earned an LL.M. from Yale University School of Law.
Martin is married to Laura Martin, and they have two sons, Cade and Case. Cade graduated from Drake in 2019 and Case is a current Drake student.
As president, Martin has built upon the University’s exceptional history. He has overseen the completion of the $52 million STEM@DRAKE initiative, which includes the construction of two new, state-of-the-art academic buildings and new academic programs that foster innovative learning and discovery in the areas of science, technology, data analytics, and health.
President Martin has strengthened the University’s engagement with the community by collaborating on the opening of a Boys and Girls Club on campus, only the second in the country to be built on a private college campus. Martin is also leading the effort to revitalize University Avenue along the south edge of campus. Through close partnership with area neighbors, business owners, and the Neighborhood Development Corporation, the revitalization project will spur economic growth and more social engagement for the campus community and the Drake Neighborhood.
Under Martin’s leadership, the University now operates in a mode of continuous improvement, and is committed to constant assessment of, and improvement in, its ability to provide students with an exceptional learning environment. The University has made great strides in delivering on its mission promise by acting on the commitments and objectives reflected in its Continuous Improvement Plan.
Recognizing the value of the talented faculty and staff at Drake, Martin led an effort to revitalize the University’s core values, aimed at fostering a culture of pride, engagement, and collaboration across the campus community. He met with faculty and staff members over a series of meetings to listen to how they define the traits and characteristics of what it means to be a colleague at Drake University. The responses were tracked, tabulated, and ultimately used to develop the institution’s newly adopted core values.
Student affordability and success are among the University’s top priorities. Martin is working to keep a Drake education within reach for all students and families. In 2017, he implemented the Drake Tuition Guarantee, a program that guarantees a fixed tuition cost for incoming undergraduate students for their entire four years. Other top priorities include creating the Drake Digital Proficiency Platform, a campaign to elevate the University’s brand, and the development of several online degree programs.
With a strong passion for students, Martin can often be found in the crowd at athletic and performing arts events, chatting with students on a first-name basis, or even coated with paint at the annual Painted Street celebration.
Martin is an active member of the Des Moines community and serves on several boards, including the Des Moines Convention Visitors Bureau, Des Moines Skate Park Campaign, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Iowa Business Council, and Prairie Meadows. Prior community engagement includes chairing the Bravo-Regional Cultural Assessment along with serving on United Way 2016 and 2017 Campaigns, and Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board.