SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Millions of people taking to the skies this month via Northwest Airlines will be able to read about Wittenberg University alumnus and board of directors’ member William C. Martin, class of 1962, in the airline’s magazine cover story. Martin, whose smiling face graces the August cover of NWA World Traveler, was named acting president of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Feb. 4, 2003 and served in that capacity until June 2004 when Peter Ueberroth was named chair of the new USOC Board of Directors.
Titled “USOC’s Bill Martin: Olympic Mettle,” the four-page feature explores “the 5 sides of Bill Martin: from real estate mogul to Olympic Committee president” and notes that “Bill Martin has triumphed at five mammoth tasks with devotion and integrity.” The magazine has a circulation of 350,000 and a readership of 2.1 million readers, according to editor Matt Williams.
In the article, Martin describes a pivotal moment in his educational experience while an undergraduate student at Wittenberg. The passage reads, “His educational fire wasn’t lit until he encountered an inspiring English professor at Wittenberg College in Ohio. ‘Out of sheer respect for him,’ Martin recalls, ‘I was just not going to come to class unprepared.’” That professor was William Coyle, a member of the Wittenberg faculty from 1948 to 1968. Coyle chaired the department of English from 1965-68 before he left Wittenberg and went to Florida Atlantic University, retiring in 1996.
“Having spent a little more than 50 years teaching, averaging about 200 students a year, it is gratifying to know that I might have made an impact on students such as Mr. Martin,” Coyle said.
As Acting President of the USOC, Martin led the organization through a historic governance transition process structured to improve the U.S. Olympic Movement through the 21st Century. With the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony slated for Friday, Aug. 13, timing was crucial to forming the 11-person board of directors for the USOC.
Martin appointed a 10-member Governance and Ethics Task Force upon taking the helm of the USOC and moved swiftly to define a more efficient governance structure that would better serve the USOC, its National Governing Bodies and America’s athletes. A massive task, some of the restructuring included a reduction in the size of the board from 125 members to 11, a reduction in the number of standing committees from 23 to 4, a clear delineation in the responsibilities of members of management and the board, the creation of an Olympic Assembly and the development of a refined mission statement for the organization.
According to a USOC statement, “History will note that Martin’s leadership has had a monumental impact on the United States Olympic Committee. The landmark governance reform he helped to bring about enables the USOC to better fulfill its mission of supporting America’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes in achieving sustained competitive excellence and preserving the Olympic ideals.”
A member of the USOC board since 1995, Martin was quoted in a news release announcing the new USOC Board of Directors, “With the help of many outstanding individuals, we have completed a governance reform process of which we can be proud and, more importantly, one which will benefit our athletes far into the future.” Now that Martin’s tenure as acting president of the USOC has concluded, he is back on campus as the University of Michigan’s director of intercollegiate athletics, a position he has held since 2000. He is also the founder of First Martin Corporation, a diversified real estate construction, development and management firm in Ann Arbor, Mich. In addition, Martin founded the Bank of Ann Arbor and has served as the chair of its board since 1997.
A member of the Wittenberg Board of Directors since 1994, Martin serves on the Advancement and Audit Committees at his alma mater. In 2001, Martin and his wife, Sally A. Martin, established an endowed scholarship in their name at Wittenberg.
The William C. and Sally A. Martin Endowed Scholarship Fund was created to provide scholarships annually to two or more freshmen with demonstrated financial need. Preference will be given each year to one student from Keweenaw or Houghton counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and to one student from Washtenaw County, where Martin resides. As funding increases, the Martins hope that more Michigan students can benefit from the unique educational experience Wittenberg affords.
“Bill Martin and his wife, Sally, are eager to do what they can do to attract more students from Michigan to Wittenberg,” said Charles Dominick, vice president for university advancement. “Bill has been generous and committed to his alma mater, giving his time and talent in addition to his financial support but also has high expectations of Wittenberg. He always pushes us to stay focused on our mission and on our students.”
Martin was president of the U.S. Sailing Association from 1988 to 1991. Additionally, he served as president of the United States Sailing Foundation from 1995-98 and has been a member of its board since 1991.
After leaving Wittenberg, Martin earned a graduate degree in economics from the University of Stockholm in 1963 and his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1965. The Martins reside in Ann Arbor. They have two grown sons, Seth and Michael.
To learn more about the Martin Scholarship at Wittenberg, call the Office of Financial Aid at (937) 327-7321. To read the magazine cover story, visit
Northwest Airlines World Traveler.
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