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Former Department Chair Joel Martin Returns to F&M as New Provost

  • provost

Joel Martin, Ph.D., former chair of Franklin & Marshall College's Department of Religious Studies and current vice provost for academic personnel and dean of the faculty at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, will return to the College in mid-summer to take up responsibilities as F&M's next provost and dean of the faculty.

He succeeds Joe Karlesky, the John C. and Katherine S. Kunkel Professor of Government at F&M, who has served as interim provost this academic year, and Ann Steiner, the Shirley Watkins Steinman Professor of Classics, who held the post from 2006 to 2013.

"Joel has enjoyed a remarkable career as an educator, a scholar and a leader," said President Daniel R. Porterfield in announcing Martin's appointment. "His experience, gained in a broad range of scholarly and administrative positions, has prepared him well for a central role in helping advance our efforts to strengthen F&M's competitive position through continued development of academic resources and programs that allow faculty to grow in their complementary roles of educator and scholar and, consequently, create such distinctive and transformational learning experiences for our students.

"I look forward to Joel's return to campus and to working with him and all of our faculty colleagues to further elevate F&M’s leadership as a national liberal arts college."

Fresh from receiving his Ph.D., with honors, in the history of religious studies from Duke University, Martin joined F&M's Department of Religious Studies in 1988 and later became its chair from 1996 until his departure in 2000 to become the Costo Endowed Chair in American Indian Affairs and professor of history and religious studies at the University of California-Riverside.

He would later serve as chair of the Department of Religious Studies at UC-Riverside from 2002 to 2004, and as interim dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences from 2004 to 2006, when he was appointed dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at UMass-Amherst.

Named a university distinguished professor in 2007, Martin assumed his current position of vice provost for academic personnel and dean of the faculty in 2010. In this role, he has oversight of all academic personnel -- including more than 1,000 faculty positions -- as well as the university's Center for Teaching and initiatives related to faculty development.

At both UMass-Amherst and UC-Riverside, Martin also realized great success in helping secure major grants and gifts to advance key strategic aims, including the establishment of new endowed faculty positions and the creation and enhancement of signature academic programs.

Although through the years, he says, Franklin & Marshall always held "a very special place in my heart."

"I was thrilled to be invited to visit the campus as a finalist and came away impressed not only about the College's recent transformations and aspirations for the future, but also by how the faculty, administration, and trustees all expressed their bone-deep commitment to the longstanding mission of superior teaching and research that defines the best liberal arts colleges," Martin said.

"They also shared with me their drive to make that excellence available to students of talent who would otherwise not have that opportunity, the systematic way everyone is working on enhancing student access -- making it real, sustainable, and person-centered. And they pointed with pride to the College's measurable successes in doing so, something that is bringing the College unparalleled national recognition, and with that, new opportunities to advance the institution and affect higher education more generally. Then President Porterfield invested an extraordinary amount of time to recruit me, an intensive process unlike any I have seen or heard of.  So, when he made me an offer to serve Franklin & Marshall College as its next provost and dean of the faculty, I of course had to say 'yes.'"

A summa cum laude graduate of the Birmingham-Southern College, Martin also holds a master's of theological studies degree from Harvard University and has received a number of prestigious fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Princeton University, the U.S. Department of Education (Jacob K. Javitz and National Graduate Fellowships), Duke University (Kearns Graduate Fellowship), and Rotary International.

He is the author or editor of four books, including "Sacred Revolt: The Muskogees' Struggle for a New World," which was named the outstanding book of 1991 on the subject of human rights by the Gustav Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights, and has contributed dozens of book chapters, journal articles and essays throughout his eminent career.