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The Legacy of Lee Martin

By Susan M. Barone — 2/23/2015

As we launch this new section of our website, it seems only appropriate to make the first entry a farewell to the individual who started this language center in 1978. My colleague and friend of 23 years, Lee Martin, will retire this April 30 after 37 years of passionate contribution to the international students, faculty, and staff of Vanderbilt University. His dedication to teaching has consistently been evidenced through evaluations from students, who on numerous occasions have indicated that their most meaningful and memorable learning experiences on campus have been under Lee’s instruction.

As a pronunciation specialist (see: Why Are “Southern Accent Reduction” Classes A Thing?), Lee has repeatedly received comments from students about how helpful his instruction was not only to their success while at Vanderbilt University but also to their job opportunities and advancements once back in their home countries. He has hosted generations of students, with children and nieces and nephews of some of his first students making their way to Vanderbilt as students themselves. His contributions to the field of teaching English spans decades of countless TNTESOL Board tasks and acute attention in his role as editor for both TNTESOL Newsletter and TNTESOL Journal.

As a colleague, he has wielded a wicked editorial pen, likely a carry-over from his years in journalism, and I would challenge anyone to try to out-grammar this grammarian (see: Different From?). As a trusted and reliable Assistant Director, he has always had my back and has gently shown me when to fight the fight. We’ve shared daily silliness and laughter, walking meetings, and concluding more oft then naught that something or another was going to “hell in a hand basket” — and then wonder aloud what that even means. Importantly, as my meditation instructor, he has taught me when to “just let it go”.

As a friend, Lee has carried me through difficult times and has quietly demonstrated how to maneuver through them. There’s no replacing Lee Martin. I feel for the individual who will be occupying his office especially at a certain time each morning as I make my way into it.