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Philanthropist James C. Martin gives another $1M to ETSU

Rex Barber • Oct 17, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Local philanthropist James C. Martin has given another $1 million to East Tennessee State University’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, bringing his total gift to the endeavor to $5 million.

Martin established the school by gifting a $1 million endowment in the name of his late wife in January 2009. The school brings all the arts at ETSU under one umbrella and allows for various artists to visit ETSU.

Since that time he has periodically given other $1 million gifts to the endowment, the most recent of which was announced Wednesday.

“Mary was a remarkable woman as she was so multi-talented, beautiful, blonde, smart, witty, extroverted, and I still miss her,” Martin said in a news release. “My support for the Mary B. Martin School for the Arts carries forth Mary’s legacy that recognizes and appreciates her unquenchable interest in the diverse forms of the arts. I believe Mary would be pleased with the success of the school to date for our students, faculty, and also for the tapestry of local arts-oriented institutions that can collaborate with the school to deliver an influential presence for the arts.”

Richard A. Manahan, vice president for University Advancement and president/CEO of the ETSU Foundation, said Martin’s gifts have allowed the arts to flourish at ETSU and the region and provided a guide to similar endeavors.

“We would not have a school of the arts if it were not for Mr. Martin wanting to honor his wife,” Manahan said. “To my knowledge it’s one of the first (schools of the arts) in the country and a model, and is something that ETSU can be proud of.”

Manahan said Martin’s gifts to the university constitute the second-largest gift to the school, behind the gift from the estate of the late 1st District Congressman James H. “Jimmy” Quillen, which left more than $10 million largely to medicine.

Manahan said it was good to have someone like Martin who generously donates to the arts, for which it can sometimes be difficult to raise funds.

According to ETSU, the School of the Arts has allowed an eclectic range of arts events and artists on campus. Whether the events are jazz fusion, film documentaries, “lost” films, the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band with renowned Nashville performers, storytellers, flamenco dancers, photography, lectures, or the theater, the far-ranging spectrum of events and artists serves and kindles a diversity of interests. This artistic array also encourages collaborative partnerships among artists and other organizations on the campus and around the region.

Both the Martins were chemists, but they made room in their lives for the arts as well.

“When we expect U.S. scientists to create miracles of invention and to lead the world in these activities, they may be ill-equipped to do this,” Martin said. “The arts create a diversity of thinkers, both ‘left-and right-brainers.’ My gifts for the school in Mary’s memory represent my efforts to also balance the scales and create more ‘whole-brain thinkers.’ ”

For more information regarding the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts and future events, visit www.etsu.edu/cas/arts and for tickets call 439-8587. For more information regarding gifts to support the mission of the school, contact the Office of University Advancement at 439-4242 or visit www.etsu.edu/advance.

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