By Vinny Reda (September 21, 2007)
David Martin Mourned
David Martin, M.A. '53, was a revered faculty member and administrator at the University who took on administrative and intellectual challenges with equal shares of enthusiasm and proficiency.
That is the lasting opinion of many colleagues and friends who mourn the passing of Martin, who died at his Coeymans' home on Sept. 17. From his start at the University as an assistant professor of English in 1959 to his retirement in 1981 after 5 years as Vice President for Academic Affairs, Martin was an educator, administrator and scholar who could be counted on to accept varied assignments and always deliver beyond expectations.
"Our community is saddened by the passing of this great citizen of the University," said Susan Herbst, University Provost and Officer in Charge. "Dr. Martin was an able teacher who became a valued administrator in his years here. In addition, his directorship of University's Benevolent Association after retirement helped to dramatically increase scholarship support from that organization to talented UAlbany students. He will be missed by those he worked with and taught."
Among Martin's longtime colleagues was Lewis Welch, former Vice President for University Affairs, who recalled that "Dave devoted most of his career to the University. Talk about somebody with versatility — Dave was a leader in a variety of offices: associate dean of graduate studies, associate dean under me at the Graduate School of Public Affairs, then associate VP of Academic Affairs, and finally VP there."
Welch noted that few would covet the chief academic post at the University in 1977. It was an era of budgetary crisis and retrenchment of programs, already under way when Martin took office. "When [President] Vince O'Leary appointed him VP for Academic Affairs in 1977, Dave became a very strong right hand during a very turbulent time," said Welch. "He was a positive presence, and he helped the University get through those years.
"In all, I worked with him 25 or 30 years,
and I can tell you — he was a great guy."
During his years at UAlbany, Martin developed an intellectual passion for Cyprus and became director of the University's Institute for Cypriot Studies. In 1973, he hired Paul Wallace, the Institute's future director, for a position in the Department of Classics. It began a great friendship between the two men and their wives, Frances Martin '71, and Diane Wallace.
"From my standpoint, Dave's greatest contribution was his support and interest in scholarship," said Wallace. "Not only did he encourage us to begin archeology in Cyprus, but the first thing he said to me when he hired me was to inquire whether I would be willing to take on an Institute expedition to Cyprus.
"Of course, in 1974 the war in Cyprus broke out and we didn't get to our expedition until 1979. But by then, Fran, his wife, was my photographer. And Dave, in order to be a proper contributor himself, studied how to be a surveyor, and he was my surveyor each year on the trips, which went to Cyprus, Greece and Egypt starting 1979, right through 1986.
"After that, we changed our activity. Rather than an expedition, we started a series on the sources of the history of Cyprus. Dave did two of those himself, and the work continues. I'm now on volume 15."
Martin received his bachelor's degree from Union College in 1950 and master's from UAlbany in 1953. He taught English at Voorheesville High School from 1953-59 before joining UAlbany. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 1960.
In addition to his post-retirement Cypriot studies and Benevolent Association efforts, Martin led the University's Program with the World Bank in 1985 and 1986 to improve teacher education in Indonesia, and served on numerous civic and conservation boards and councils, locally and regionally. He was a Fulbright Travel Fellow and a Wall Street Journal Fellow, among other honors and awards.
His wife Frances, a well-known artist, survives him, along with a son, two granddaughters, a great-grandson, and a step-brother.