Joseph Martin ('74, DB) was elected to the Embry-Riddle Board of Trustees in 2005. He is Treasurer of the Board and a member of the Committee on Trustees. Martin serves as Chairman of the Finance Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Investment Committee, and Co-Chairman of the Development Committee. He is also a member of the Audit, Executive, and Facilities & Capital Planning committees.
Joseph “Joe” Martin spent his career restructuring corporations so they could flourish again. But one of the most gratifying transformations he has been a part of occurred after his retirement as Co-Chairman at Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation.
“I was able to be on the inside and watch this incredible change in Embry-Riddle in the last six years,” said Martin, who joined Embry-Riddle’s Board of Trustees in 2005. “It’s epic what has happened.”
He has witnessed a vibrant period in Embry-Riddle’s history. In the last six years, the university has invested millions on building and improving facilities. “I’m blessed that I can sit here and see in earnest the transformation of the university, in tandem with the high quality of the faculty, students, and programs,” he said. “While I did not lead it or have the vision to do it, I played a small part in it and I’m very proud to have played that part.”
The Maine businessman and father of five grown children admits his blossoming re-connection with Embry-Riddle is relatively new and unexpected. For 35 years after graduating from Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics, he had virtually no connection with his alma mater, until the university’s then-president George Ebbs reached out to him in 2001 and asked him to serve on the President’s Council, which he did from 2002 to 2005. He was also the 2003 commencement speaker at the Daytona Beach Campus.
Upon his invitation to join the Board of Trustees a couple of years later, Martin realized that his business background and experience could assist the university in moving forward.
“It’s turned out to draw me in a whole lot more than I ever anticipated,” he said. “It just seems to feed some sort of commitment – a desire to do better. Being on the Board is the only job I’ve had in my life where I have to pay to be here rather than they pay me. And I feel good about that.”
Early Days and Career Success
One of seven children, Martin grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and joined the U.S. Army at age 19. He became a helicopter pilot and held the rank of captain, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam. His military honors include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, 22 Air Medals, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.
At Embry-Riddle, following his Army service, he was a member of the student senate, president of the senior class, president of Alpha Eta Rho fraternity, and was the student graduation speaker. But upon graduation, aviation jobs were difficult to find.
“I felt kind of cheated that I wasn’t able to pursue the career in aviation that I had envisioned,” Martin said. “But things seemed to work out anyway.” Over the years, he rose to senior executive status at National Semiconductor Corp. and Fairchild Semiconductor Corp.
Leadership and Service at Embry-Riddle
Financially, Martin has generously supported a range of Embry-Riddle needs, from athletics to scholarships. But he is reluctant to take any personal credit for the university’s progress. “I’m proud of being part of the success of this university, but I have no individual accomplishment,” Martin said. “I’m fortunate to be part of a team with incredible leaders who are able and committed to help this wonderful university.”
Martin is especially proud of the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings of programs whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s, in which the Prescott Campus is the No. 1 school in Arizona in the category of best undergraduate engineering programs, while the Daytona Beach Campus is the No. 1 school in Florida in the category of best undergraduate aerospace engineering. Prior to the 2017 report, the Daytona Beach Campus offered the No. 1 undergraduate aerospace engineering program in the nation for 16 straight years and has since moved into a new ranking category for schools offering a doctoral degree. “Those rankings get people’s attention,” he said, often referring to these and similar accolades when talking about Embry-Riddle with people who are unfamiliar with the university.
As the university continues to evolve and enter an era focused on diversifying and increasing its research initiatives, Martin encourages Embry-Riddle to continue to invest in research, faculty, and additional doctoral programs to solidify its reputation. “If we continue to enhance these areas, there will be no second choice for prospective students and professionals in the industry. Embry-Riddle will be known for one-stop shopping in education and training at all levels.”