ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Martin Inducted into Academy of Engineering Excellence

BLACKSBURG, Va. May 8, 2008 &ndash&ndash Harold Martin, who earned his doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 1980, is a 2008 inductee into Virginia Tech's College of Engineering's Academy of Engineering Excellence. Martin who resides in Kernersville, N.C. joins a select group of 80 engineering alumni in the Virginia Tech academy.

Photograph of Harold and Davida Martin

Harold Martin attends his induction ceremony into Virginia Tech's Academy of Engineering Excellence with his wife Davida.

As a young boy growing up in Winston-Salem, Martin spent his summers, as well as many weekends, at his grandparents' farm in Axton, Va. But the trips were never a vacation. The 150-acre property was planted primarily in tobacco, wheat, and corn. His aunts and uncles and more than 100 first cousins would join his immediate family, and they all pitched in to help his grandparents.

When he was interviewed about his youth, Dr. Martin recalled and I quote: "We became accustomed to hard work and developed a great sense of work ethic, but we all agreed it was not something we wanted to do the rest of our lives." And with the exception of only two or three of his cousins, everyone went on to college to pursue a less physically demanding profession.

So Harold attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, also known as North Carolina A&T, and received his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering. He then applied to Virginia Tech's EE Department for his doctoral degree. While he was at Virginia Tech, he spent time as an instructor. The teaching position at Virginia Tech allowed the young Ph.D. candidate to participate in faculty meetings, where he says he learned about faculty politics and the importance of research and publications. He also learned that decisions regarding space needs were made on the basis of research.

Photo of Jim Thorp, Harold Martin, and Dean Richard Benson

Harold Martin, center, who received in doctorate in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 1980, receives his award for induction into Virginia Tech's Academy of Engineering Excellence from James Thorp, left, professor and head of ECE, and Richard Benson, right, dean of the College of Engineering.

Consequently, he used this knowledge to his advantage when he took his first tenure track job as a promising new assistant professor of electrical engineering at A&T in 1980. He leapfrogged to tenured status in an amazing four years. His dossier from the early 1980s shows that as an assistant professor he brought in an exceptionally high $500,000 to $750,000 in research contracts and grants annually to A&T. His work was in the areas of high-speed computing, integrated circuits, and fault tolerance systems. With his tenure, he also became the EE department head at A&T. The rapid move to administration in just four years was a true turning point for the rising star of the A&T faculty.

One achievement led to another. Every four or five years, he would successfully compete for a new position at A&T, moving from the department headship into the deanship of the college, and ultimately to vice chancellor for academic affairs.

In 1994, he was named the vice chancellor of academic affairs at Winston-Salem State University. In 2000 he was promoted to its chief administrator and chancellor, a position he remained in until 2006. At WSSU, his main goal was to build the campus into a highly recognized regional and national institution. And he did. He guided its reclassification from a baccalaureate I to a master's II institution, created a School of Graduate Studies and Research, established seven master's degree programs and enhanced the quality of overall academic programs.  While he was at WSSU, the university's enrollment doubled, giving WSSU the fastest growing enrollment in the University of North Carolina system by 2006.

That year, Martin became the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina, a multi-campus university.  As the Senior Vice President, Martin leads the development and implementation of the academic mission of the University, including teaching, research, international programs and student affairs.  He advises the President and provides leadership for the President's council. 

At Virginia Tech, Martin has served as chair of both the College and the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisory Boards. He is a member of the Committee of 100. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the National Engineering Honor Society and Eta Kappa Nu, the International Honor Society for Electrical Engineers.

Martin is married to his high school sweetheart, Davida, and they have two children, Harold Jr., now studying at Yale Law School, and Walter, a student at Hampton University. Davida, a lawyer, currently serves as North Carolina's Forsyth County attorney.