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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Endowment Establishes School of the Arts at ETSU

James C.
James C. "Jim" Martin with a portrait of his wife, Mary B. Martin.

School Named in Honor of Mary B. Martin

March 02, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — East Tennessee State University President Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. recently announced the establishment of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts with a $1 million naming endowment created by James C. "Jim" Martin.

Martin, a Johnson City resident, donated funds to the ETSU Foundation to endow the school in memory of his wife who earned her B.A. degree in chemistry from ETSU while working at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tenn. Mrs. Martin enjoyed numerous creative endeavors throughout her life, including sewing and interior decorating, and the Martin family also appreciated both music and storytelling performances.

Stanton said, "The university is fortunate to have a wide array of academic programs encompassing the visual, performing and literary arts, such as theater, dance, storytelling, digital media, graphic design, and a variety of music genres, as well as painting, photography and others.

"Because these numerous arts programs are housed in various departments within several different colleges, we determined that ETSU needed to establish a stronger organizational structure to allow greater collaboration and coordination of activities while enhancing support for all of our arts initiatives. And that is the focus of the university's new Mary B. Martin School of the Arts so generously endowed by Mr. Martin."

According to ETSU Foundation President/CEO and Vice President for University Advancement Dr. Richard A. Manahan, "The Martin School will be supported by interest on this benefactor's investment, augmented by subscriptions and ticket sales to arts events. In addition, the school will seek support through corporate and other private sponsorship and gifts, and through external grants and contracts."

While the Martin School will be housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, arts programs not currently part of that college will benefit by participating with the school, according to the new school's director, Anita DeAngelis, who teaches drawing and book arts courses in the ETSU Department of Art and Design and also serves as the college's associate dean for the arts.

"We have several goals for the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts," DeAngelis said, "and these include building partnerships among ETSU academic units as well as with the arts community and arts organizations throughout the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia region and Western North Carolina. In addition, the school will develop an annual performance and exhibition series designed to bring greater distinction to both the university and the extended region ETSU serves."

She added, "The funding that this endowment will provide is exciting for all of our arts areas. ETSU arts faculty, students and programs have provided the broader community with significant arts events over the years, and we often struggle to fund such activities. Mr. Martin is making it possible for us to bring additional high-caliber artists and performers to our community."

According to DeAngelis, the arts at ETSU had humble beginnings in 1911 when Elizabeth Slocumb was hired to teach drawing in what was then the Department of Industrial Arts. Since that time, the arts have grown to encompass a wide variety of the visual and performing arts.

DeAngelis concluded, "The arts challenge us to experience processes of thinking, feeling, knowing, interpreting, and communicating, and the campus is alive with activities that provide opportunities to experience the arts in many ways."

Approval for the creation of the new school was granted by ETSU's governing board, the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), which is the sixth largest system of higher education in the nation, and from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which oversees both the TBR and University of Tennessee systems.

For information about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, call 423-439-5673 or 439-5671 or visit the Web site at