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 graduated from Drake in 2021.
As president, Martin has built upon the University’s exceptional history and is leading Drake into its next comprehensive campaign. He launched the John Dee Bright College in the fall of 2021 and he is collaborating with three other university presidents to develop a shared services organization that will help sustain Drake's long-term success. Moreover, President Martin has strengthened the University's engagement with the community by opening the Burt Boys and Girls Club on campus, revitalizing the University Avenue corridor, and working to make the new DMPS Community Stadium a reality. These projects, along with others, are driving economic development, new neighborhood amenities and jobs, and more social engagement for the campus community in the Drake Neighborhood.
Under Martin’s leadership, the University now operates from a posture of continuous improvement, committed to constant assessment of its ability to provide its 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 2016, he implemented the Drake Tuition Guarantee, a program that guarantees a fixed tuition cost for incoming undergraduate students for their entire four years. Additionally, John Dee Bright College offers a new, more affordable path to a Drake degree and since January of 2018 the University is serving hundreds of new students through Drake Online.
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, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, and Prairie Meadows. Prior community engagement includes chairing the Bravo-Regional Cultural Assessment along with serving on the Des Moines Skate Park Campaign, United Way 2016 and 2017 Campaigns, and Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board.