MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Chris Martin, former dean of the West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism (now the Reed College of Media) and former vice president of WVU University Relations, died on Wednesday, August 7, at the age of 67.
In Martin’s 23 years at WVU, she became known for her love of journalism and innovative approach to both media education and branding at the university. She joined the journalism faculty in 1990 and served as the director of the school’s undergraduate writing program, news editorial sequence chair and dean from 1997-2003.
As dean, Martin was responsible for starting new programs that elevated the school’s national reputation and for bringing top talent to WVU. She launched the nation’s first online master’s degree in integrated marketing communications, a highly successful program that has graduated more than 1,500 students in its 16-year history. She spearheaded fundraising efforts that led to the creation of the Ogden Newspapers Visiting Professorship, a position held by renowned Associated Press special correspondent, George Esper.
She led major curriculum revisions in response to the changing media landscape and projects that provided students with hands-on, real-world experiences, such as the Cancer Stories documentary and West Virginia Veterans History Project.
“Chris Martin was a great friend to the College of Media, and me personally,” said Maryanne Reed, WVU provost and former College of Media dean. “She was a visionary leader, both as the dean of the college and as vice president of University Relations. Her many contributions and her passion for staying relevant paved the way for the college to become a leader in modern media education.”
Martin became a member of the senior leadership team at WVU in 2003 when she assumed the vice president role and took over communications, media, marketing and branding operations for the university. She oversaw the development of WVUToday, the university’s first multimedia communications network, and a growing array of social media vehicles for recruitment, retention and affinity building including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. She also led the implementation of new recruitment and marketing strategies that helped increase WVU enrollment to unprecedented levels.
Under her leadership, WVU University Relations won numerous national and international awards – Tellys, MarComs, CASE, Webbys – for emergent and social media initiatives. She also led the marketing communication strategy to boost WVU’s Office of Trademark Licensing to 15th in the nation for sales and 3rd in the Big 12 Conference.
During her time at WVU, Martin also co-directed Poynter’s College Newswriting and Reporting Fellowship Program from 1997 to 2004. And in 2013, she was named president of the Poynter Foundation and vice president of external relations at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a nationally prominent center for journalism training and international media studies think tank in St. Petersburg, Florida.
At Poytner, Martin helped launch the formal fundraising arm and built philanthropic support through major gift solicitation, annual campaigns, planned giving, special events, alumni relations and donor recognition programs.
Martin retired from Poynter in 2014. Throughout her career, she spoke and consulted nationally on writing, reporting, emergent media, media technology and mass communications.
“Chris left a legacy at WVU and has remained a generous supporter of the college through a scholarship she created in memory of her father,” Reed said. “She was loved and will be missed."
CONTACT Erica Lindsay; WVU Reed College of Media
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.