Mirta Martin named new FHSU president
By Larry Dreiling
Mirta Martin, Ph.D., will become the ninth president of Fort Hays State University.
The Kansas Board of Regents May 2 voted to approve Martin’s appointment and officially introduced the new president during a special meeting on the FHSU campus.
Martin will begin her presidency on July 1.
“Selecting a president is about identifying the person that fits the university. In assessing the candidates, we focused on who would embrace and enhance the traditions and achievements of Fort Hays State University,” said Fred Logan, chair of the Regents. “The Kansas Board of Regents is fully supportive of this new president and the direction she will lead Fort Hays State University into the future.”
Martin has served as dean of the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business at Virginia State University since 2009. She has also held various higher education leadership positions throughout her career such as special assistant to the chancellor, executive vice president and associate dean, among other positions.
A native of Cuba who left with her family at age 6 to Spain, then later to the United States and Florida, to escape the Castro regime, Martin received her Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Richmond, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Science from Duke University.
“The future of the nation lies in the pursuit of academic excellence,” Martin said. “Progress is not possible without vision, leadership, and trust. As your president, my priority is to enable you to become your best self.
“I believe my selection as president is an affirmation of the Regents’ and Fort Hays State University’s commitment to entrepreneurial leadership, opportunity, diversity, and innovation.”
Logan said, “Dr. Mirta Martin is the personification of the American dream. She has been successful in every challenge she has ever faced. She will be successful at Fort Hays State University.”
In a news conference following the board’s announcement, Martin said the first thing she wants to do is learn as much as she can about the vitality of faculty, staff, students and partners in industry.
“If we are going to be a family, then I need to meet everyone in this incredible institution,” Martin said. “I looked at this place to see if it met my values and that my skill sets would meet the needs of the university. After visiting here and learning about the university, John (her husband) and I were convinced that this is a place we could call home.”
Martin said that while she and her husband would be moving halfway across the country to take the job, she said the place she’s coming from is similar to FHSU.
Martin comes from what is known as an “1890 Historically Black Land-Grant College,” founded with the same spirit as previously founded land-grant colleges but with special emphasis in educating minorities.
Today, these colleges have, like FHSU, a high number of graduates who are the first in their families to graduate from college. FHSU has a Department of Agriculture, primarily now known for its virtual program in educating vocational agriculture instructors as a second career.
“In what I saw when the job opening was announced, the Regents were looking for someone to be a strong leader in a caring community,” said Martin, who has two daughters in college. “My husband and I are looking for a home for the next 20 years. We think we found it in Fort Hays State.”
The announcement of Martin comes after five months of work by the FHSU Presidential Search Committee. Members of the committee received public recognition for their efforts.
“A special thank you to the members of the FHSU Presidential Search Committee,” Logan said. “These individuals made a commitment to help the board find the best candidates from around the nation to lead this fine institution and we recognize that commitment today in naming the ninth president of Fort Hays State University.”
Martin will succeed Edward Hammond, Ph.D., who is retiring after 27 years as FHSU president.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to working with her as we move the university and the department forward,” said John Greathouse, chairman of the FHSU Department of Agriculture. “I’m excited to have her visit more with us and view our programs and continue the forward momentum we already have in place.”
Larry Dreiling can be reached by phone at 785-628-1117 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.