Metropolitan Community College lost its longest-serving trustee, Robert “Bob” Hugh Martin, on Monday, April 3, 2017.
Trustee Martin served 41 years on the Board of Trustees. “His unique historical knowledge, his expertise and his strong leadership and dedication to MCC will be sorely missed,” Chancellor Mark James said.
“Bob raised the bar for everyone around him. As a trustee, he did his homework, read every word of every document, studied every financial report, reviewed every check written and was keenly interested in the work being done by our faculty. Bob was passionate about providing opportunities for our students and pushed us to be our best.
“It is hard to imagine a board meeting without him there, but Bob would be the first to tell us to get on with our work — there are students to be served. He was a mentor for all of us, and we will all miss his influential presence.”
Mr. Martin helped guide the college district through a difficult period of financial exigency in the late 1970s and again in 2010 in the midst of the recession. During his tenure on the Board of Trustees, MCC grew from three campuses serving residents in nine school districts to five campuses serving 12 school districts.
As a trustee, he helped select five of the institution’s chancellors. Since the College was established in 1915, 14 chancellors and presidents have led MCC.
Appointed in 1976 to fill a vacancy, Mr. Martin was first elected to the board from Subdistrict 5 in 1978 and subsequently re-elected six more times. He was last elected in 2014, and his colleagues elected him board president four times. (Click any photo to see it larger.)
Mr. Martin’s philosophy of the role of a trustee stressed four functions: to set policy for the district; to ensure fiscal responsibility and good stewardship of the resources of the district; to hire and assess chancellors with the ability to provide the leadership needed to meet current strategic priorities; and to respect the expertise of faculty and administrators to carry out those priorities. His philosophy helped shape a board that tends carefully to its areas of responsibility.
He contributed to MCC’s growth, development and educational excellence through his promotion of programs such as writing across the curriculum to encourage student excellence and establishing fiscal management policies and priorities that acknowledged the importance of providing for capital maintenance and planned growth.
Mr. Martin was born in Howard County, Mo., and raised in Carrier Mills, Ill. He was commissioned a lieutenant and trained as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force after completing a bachelor of science degree in business at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Following his military service, he settled in Lee’s Summit, married, received a juris doctor degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, served as a municipal judge and assistant Jackson County prosecutor, and joined a law practice in Independence.
He served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives. His civic memberships include the Lee’s Summit Rotary Club (which honored him three times as a Paul Harris Fellow), Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce and the McComas-Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport board (charter member). He was a member of the federal, Missouri, Metropolitan (Kansas City) and Eastern Jackson County bar associations. He served as a bishop’s warden at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Lee’s Summit.
As a former legislator, he maintained an interest in the political processes of the state and acted as a mentor to MCC leaders in their relations with state officials and agencies.
He personified steady, dependable leadership without calling attention to himself.
At MCC, he was also an effective supporter of seeking and developing internal talent for positions of leadership. As faculty, staff and administrators defined the initiatives they believed would lead to greater excellence throughout MCC, Mr. Martin regularly requested updates on the implementation of those initiatives.
In 2007 he was selected from among a distinguished group of nominees to receive the Missouri Community College Association Trustee Leadership Award for his years of selfless volunteer leadership and exemplary service.
“We have tremendous respect and admiration for Trustee Martin,” said MCC Board of Trustees President Trent Skaggs, speaking on behalf of the entire board.
“For decades, Mr. Martin has been a critical part of our community’s college. His institutional knowledge and experience have helped direct many important decisions that have truly impacted students and our region for the better. His commendable and awe-inspiring leadership will remain a guiding legacy for decades to come. ”
Survivors include his wife, Ellen Forrest Martin, a retired, longtime MCC administrator and faculty member, and two sons and their spouses.