Mike Martin leaves University

by Amy Olson

About 150 University administrators, staff and faculty members gathered at the St. Paul Student Center’s Northstar Ballroom on Wednesday to bid a fond farewell and extend best wishes to Mike Martin.
Martin has been dean of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences for about three years. He leaves the University on Friday to become vice president of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida in Gainsville.
A jovial affair, Martin’s staff presented him with a gopher beanie baby that bore his likeness — with two “gators” devouring its arms.
Phil Larsen, the college’s associate dean for research, will be the interim dean until a nationwide search is conducted to name a replacement.
“It’s the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Martin said. “There’s a community that surrounds this place and cares deeply about this University. It’s the best land grant institution in the country, including Florida.”
Several colleagues and administrators — including University President Mark Yudof — spoke.
“I really feel that Mike has made a mark on this University, on this college and on this administration,” said Yudof. “I’ve been very fortunate to have had Mike Martin here. He is a genuinely visionary leader.”
Yudof later reminded Martin, “You still have 24 hours to change your mind.”
University Executive Vice President and Provost Robert Bruininks applauded Martin for raising the national rankings of all the college’s departments into the top 10; two departments are ranked number one. Martin also implemented measures to raise minority enrollment in the college, making it the most diverse at the University.
For Martin’s son, the move will also bring changes. Sam Martin, a junior majoring in genetics and cell biology in the College of Biological Sciences, said he often dropped in to see his dad.
“I won’t be able to do that anymore,” Sam said.
Sam and his sister, Amanda Martin — a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire — will remain in the area. Sam said he will be going to the University of Florida on a national exchange during the winter and spring.
Martin began his doctoral studies in applied economics at the University of Minnesota in 1974. After earning his doctorate, he became a professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. He also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and in Hawaii as a visiting professor.
Martin rejoined the University of Minnesota in 1992 when he became associate dean for research. In 1995, he was appointed dean of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences. Last year, Yudof appointed Martin acting vice president for agricultural policy.
Martin may leave for the land of the Gators, but he told his well-wishers, “I’ll leave always being a Gopher.”