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New Fort Hays leader to be inaugurated this month

November 3, 2014

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Fort Hays State University’s new president immigrated to the United States as a child who spoke no English and switched to academia after getting her start in the business world.

An inauguration ceremony is planned for Mirta Martin on Nov. 21, The Salina Journal (http://bit.ly/1xDTTQJ ) reports. She will succeed longtime president Ed Hammond, who agreed to help with the transition.

He said the search committee was charged with finding the best leader it could, whether from a military, business, political or education background. He said the committee “hit a home run” by choosing Martin.

Martin was born in Havana, Cuba, and left the country at age 5 with her 4-year-old sister and her grandmother. They ended up in Spain living in a convent, until they made it into the United States when she was 10.

Arriving in Miami, Martin spoke no English. But eight years later, she graduated at the top of her high school class and won a full-ride scholarship to Duke University, where she met her husband, John.

Upon graduating with a degree in business, Martin took a job at a Richmond, Virginia, bank and worked her way up to senior vice president handling international loans in the second-largest bank in the country. Martin, who is fluent in four languages, was traveling the world working on mergers and acquisitions, but she wanted to be home with her children.

She quit the bank and started an academic career, thinking she could teach and raise a family.

As president at Fort Hays, she said she intends to promote a model that more heavily involves faculty in research to stay on top of innovation in their fields and use business partners to help shape the curriculum.

Martin said she also plans to build upon the legacy that Hammond created by expanding the reach of the school’s virtual campus.

“What’s been fun stepping back from the presidency is watching someone come in with new vision, new lenses, from a different kind of background ... and Fort Hays is going to be a lot better for it,” Hammond said.


Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, http://www.salina.com

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