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Gonzaga names law school dean

Earl Martin, now in Texas, calls new job 'inspiring' opportunity

By Rob McDonald
spokesmanreview.com Staff writer
March 17, 2005

As Earl Martin sees it, Spokane's a perfect fit.

Martin has been hired to head Gonzaga University's School of Law. He starts July 1. He's currently an associate dean for academic affairs at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth.

Martin's an Air Force reservist, a family man and an outdoor enthusiast.

"We have a canoe, we have a kayak, we have the backpacking equipment, and we use it all," said Martin by phone Wednesday during a family ski vacation in Colorado. He said he's looking forward to leading the law school.

"It's inspiring, it's a little overwhelming to think of all the opportunities that are there," Martin said. "It has some strength to build upon."

Originally from Kentucky, Martin was selected in a national search that started last summer.

"What I liked about him was his broad experience in the classroom and administrative experience," said Gonzaga Academic Vice President Stephen Freedman. "He's also a charismatic man with good fund-raising skills."

Martin, 43, earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Kentucky in 1984 and a law degree in 1987 from the UK College of Law.

He joined the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps and was on active duty for eight years and continues as a reservist.

"I always enjoyed my time with the Air Force," Martin said.

Martin is married and has two boys, ages 6 and 8.

He earned an advanced legal degree from Yale Law School in 1996. Martin became a law professor at Texas Wesleyan in 1997. In 2003, Martin was appointed associate dean.

The former Gonzaga law dean, Dan Morrissey, announced he was stepping down in April to consider positions at other colleges. George Critchlow, a Gonzaga associate law professor, took over as interim dean during the summer and will continue as dean until Martin begins his job.

Martin's enthusiasm, energy and ideas impressed associate professor Ann Murphy, who was one of 21 people serving on the search committee.

"He had 27 meetings in three days, which is enough to kill anyone," Murphy said.

On Martin's final day, he presented a detailed outline of what he considered some of Gonzaga's challenges, such as raising the percentage of students who pass the bar exam on the first try. For each challenge, he included possible solutions. "He must have stayed up all night," Murphy said.

"It seemed like he really cared about Gonzaga and wasn't just looking for a job," she said. "It seemed like he had taken a keen interest."

Martin is a fifth-generation attorney from Kentucky. His great-great-grandfather was a justice of the peace, his great-grandfather was in the second graduating class at the University of Kentucky. His grandfather was a district judge, circuit court judge and served a term in the Senate. His father's in private practice and is a former deputy district attorney.

"I'm hoping I'm (at Gonzaga) for a long time. I don't see this as a stepping stone to something else. I think this is a great job unto itself," Martin said. "It's in a part of the country we've always wanted to live."