James. T. Martin, Sr., was one of the founding members of the Hawkeye Institute of Technology board of directors, serving for 25 years from 1966–1991. He held the leadership positions of board president, building and site chairman, and foundation president. His greatest accomplishment was knowing that Hawkeye’s current campus grew from his initial work with the building and sites committee. He was named a lifetime founding member of the Hawkeye Foundation and remained active in fundraising activities as long as his health allowed until his passing in November, 2006.
Mr. Martin was active in education throughout his life. Through his seven years on the Independence area school board and his appointment to the Buchanan County Board of Education, Mr. Martin emerged as a leader in community affairs. He was one of the moving forces behind the Area Education Agency and worked tirelessly to gain the passage of the Iowa Community College system.
His position as the secretary of the Master Plumbers of Iowa led to his involvement in the needs assessment for community colleges. As an employer he recognized that many people had the ability to work with their hands but needed more training to excel in their jobs. He knew that traditional college was not always the solution and sought ways to provide vocational training; Hawkeye Tech was the answer.
His passion for education was planted early; having graduated from eighth grade at the age of 11, he completed a “Normal Training Certificate” and taught in a country school briefly. He then opened his own auto repair shop which evolved into an electrical wiring business. His business, coupled with family responsibilities and his growing community involvement, kept him busy for the next 40 years. At age 72, Jim decided to return to school, taking Hawkeye’s General Technology degree program. Jim completed the required course of study in 1990, graduating while currently serving as a Trustee of the college.