Dr. Tom Martin ’56 and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Lois Martin, of Belleville, Pa., have made a $1 million gift to Franklin & Marshall, endowing the College’s first readership designed to assist up-and-coming mid-career faculty.
The Martin Endowed Readership for Associate Professors will support one or more associate professors in their scholarship, research and professional development. The professors will be selected through the tenure and academic review processes and the Martin Readership will rotate among recipients every two to three years.
Tom Martin, an F&M chemistry major, went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He served for decades as a board-certified pediatrician and sports medicine primary care physician, as well as a professor of pediatrics at the Milton Hershey School of Medicine and at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. He and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Lois Martin, gave the gift in honor of the late Fred Snavely ’49, F&M professor of chemistry.
“I wanted to recognize the contributions of all faculty,” Martin said. “For many years, I’ve been an educator as well as a practitioner. I think it’s important that younger faculty members are supported and allowed to stretch to reach their potential.”
“All of us at Franklin & Marshall are deeply grateful to the Martins for their generous gift to establish an endowed readership for associate professors,” said F&M President Barbara K. Altmann. “The power of an F&M education lies in our faculty challenging our students to meet their full potential – and then helping them realize it. Support for our teacher-mentors in those efforts is a crucial part of the ‘Now to Next’ comprehensive campaign.”
Martin said Snavely had a particularly strong influence on him as a student. “Professor Snavely was a World War II pilot, then he got his doctorate and returned to Franklin & Marshall in fall 1952, the same time I enrolled,” Martin recalled. “He took great interest in his students and I learned a lot about not just the classroom subject, but also about life in general just from our out-of-classroom discussions. One thing I found out—and that he encouraged—was that not everyone thinks alike and there are many different ways to consider a question and solve a problem. There was great value in that, and it has stuck with me to this day.”
Martin said he came to F&M because of its “reputation as perhaps the premier pre-med college in the country. I was interested in medicine early on; in fact, my high school yearbook predicted I would be a doctor. I also thought about going into the ministry, but after my first semester, I knew medicine was the right choice for me. And I was hardly alone—there were 220 students in my graduating class, and 55 of us went to medical school.”
In 2016, Tom Martin received the Alumni Citation, given annually to graduates who are distinguished in their profession, have provided dedicated leadership and service to the community, and have an exemplary record of accomplishment in a professional field. He started the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic at Geisinger Medical Center. As chairman of pediatrics at Geisinger for 20 years, he was key in developing the department from five pediatricians to 80, which included many new subspecialists to the department, creating Pediatrics and Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Programs.
Dr. Martin started Geisinger’s referral program and outreach clinics. He became a member of the American Board of Pediatrics and helped write the board exams in primary sports care medicine and pediatrics. He was president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and team physician for Penn State’s football and wrestling teams. He has an extensive list of peer-reviewed publications.
The Rev. Dr. Lois Martin is a graduate of Susquehanna University; she graduated in 1990 as a nontraditional student. She later earned two master’s degrees, one in church music and another in divinity, before earning her doctorate in ministry from the Lutheran Theological Seminary. She serves the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America as a specially trained, intentional interim minister, and has qualifications as a spiritual director from Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. She is a member of Susquehanna’s Board of Trustees.
The Martins are parents of a blended family of eight children, including Julia Martin Walter ’96. They have been consistent contributors to the College, supporting the Franklin & Marshall Fund, the Fred Snavely Fund, and the Diplomat Athletic Club. Tom Martin served as the physician for F&M’s David Lehman Open wrestling tournament and worked with F&M students as a volunteer with the Benjamin Rush Society.
Tom Martin said that establishing the Endowed Readership followed their decision that he and Lois made to set up a scholarship at her alma mater. “We believe strongly in the power of education for all,” he said. “We want to help accomplish that in whatever ways we can. I’ve been very fortunate in life; I’ve accomplished much in my professional career. I attribute that fact to my time at Franklin & Marshall, and I wanted to show my gratitude.”