The man who will become the 13th president of Iowa’s largest private university this summer says one of the top selling points for moving his family from Spokane, Washington was the appeal of Iowa’s capital city. Earl “Marty” Martin, who’s currently the executive vice-president at Gonzaga University, was introduced this week as Drake University’s president-elect.
The 53-year-old Martin told a crowd on the Des Moines campus about how he expressed to his wife, Laura, that he was interested in the job opening. “As you can these days, you just get on the web and very quickly you get a good idea of what this place is and she looked at Drake and she looked at Des Moines and she came back and she said, ‘gosh, that just looks like a wonderful place. Go for it.’ So, I got that permission to go for it,” Martin said.
The Martins have two teenage sons, Cade and Case. Martin said he and his wife visited Des Moines for his job interview in December and were impressed with the four-and-a-half acre sculpture park in downtown Des Moines, which features artwork from some of the world’s most celebrated artists.
“To see that art on display in that public space and anyone can come up and interact with it and have their own experience of it, without any filter — there’s no one watching over shoulders telling you ‘don’t touch the art’ — that’s a remarkable thing,” Martin said. “It’s not just any city that gets that. Only a great city is going to have something like that…that someone’s going to be willing to step up, make that kind of investment, to make that kind of gift to this place.”
Martin will become president of Drake University on July 1. Drake’s current president, David Maxwell, is retiring this summer after 16 years of leading the university that has an enrollment of roughly 5,100 students.