10 things you didn’t know about EMU President Susan Martin

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Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin, is everywhere on campus. She’s in the student section wearing a cape, cheering on the Eagles. She’s in her office filling out paperwork. She’s talking to the board of trustees and she’s hanging out in Sherzer looking at stars with the astronomy club. Heck, the woman is even in the news. Little did you know, this omnipresent woman is weirder than you probably ever guessed.

1)She’s Reese Witherspoon: OK, so she’s not actually a famous actress, however for her first real job interview, she pulled a “Legally Blonde” moment. “So I went to interview, I did a cold call,” Martin said, “I just got dressed up [took] a résumé, and I went to the office of the auditor general and I asked to see the auditor general. I went dressed for this … in a peach polyester suit and a matching peach résumé. I asked to see him, he saw me and said, ‘It’s about time we hired a woman.’”

2)She raced Porsches: Martin said while she was in her MBA program she met some guys who owned Porsches and raced them. “I ended up being the first woman president of the Motor Stop Porsche club of Midland Michigan … I even went to a professional driving school,” Martin said.

3)She wanted to be a working woman: Martin said, “You got your man and your teaching degree … And then I started working as a secretary actually, because it paid better than teaching. Then I started taking accounting classes and I started taking business classes. I got my MBA because I decided I wanted to work my whole career. I really liked working, so I might as well be make some money.”

4)Martin worked for the state of Michigan: Ever have those moments where you look back at your life and wonder how you got to where you are now? For Martin, that will always be somewhat of a mystery. “I was assigned as a [graduate assistant] to help in an accounting class,” Martin said. “[The professor] was the deputy treasurer for the state of Michigan. In the spring, she calls me up and says, ‘How would you like to come down and interview for my job?’” Though Martin was grateful to be considered, she explained how busy her life was, “I’m in the Ph.D program, in my first year of classes, I have a child.” Nonetheless, Martin’s professor said, “Come down and meet the state treasurer.” A week later, Martin was called and told the governor had approved her appointment. Martin said, “I continued full time in the Ph.D program and I became deputy treasurer for the state of Michigan. I was in charge of the property tax, 120 some employees and local government.”

5)Martin liked to dress up as a witch for work: As the sole woman working in her office, Martin noticed work was a little boring. Men in suits at meetings was a pretty day-to-day thing. So she dressed it up, wearing colored hats and matching outfits. Sometimes she even took it a step further, “When I was revenue commissioner, we ran a tax amnesty program. When you’re doing that, you do things to encourage people to voluntarily fess up and pay … and then I appeared as the ‘Caped Commissioner’ as the witch. I stood up there in this [costume] saying pay up or else there’s going to be penalties. I’m a witch, or some of you may call me a word rhyming with that, because of the penalties.”

6)Everyone thought Martin’s tractor was sexy: Perhaps cute is a better term to describe Martin and her tractor, “From ages 9 to 14, I played softball. I was the pitcher and because my parents were busy on the farm I had a tractor that I drove to town.”

7)She’s a really fast reader: It’s probably a good thing that no EMU student has had to deal with Martin as their professor, since her reading ability is fast enough to know the words you spelled wrong on your essay before you‘ve had a chance to walk out of the room. “I read really fast … because when I was a kid my entertainment was when my mother and I would go to town on the weekend. I would go to the library and literally check out a shelf of books. That’s how I entertained myself. My brother and parents were busy working on the farm. So I would often read a book a day.”

8)She’s a champion debater: You certainly don’t want to try and get in an argument with Martin, especially since she spent her entire college career working on debate. “In 1971 is when I graduated from Central [Michigan University] I was a top outstanding professional debater. I had gone to Central because they have a good forensics and debate team there.”

9)She didn’t want to be president: After working at Grand Valley for 18 years, Martin was ready for a change, but not quite as extreme as the change she got. “I never planned to be a president. I always wanted to be a teacher … I just came to the campus and it knocked me out. I knew Eastern existed, but I didn’t know anything about it. There is no rational reason why I would apply for this job, I had no chance of getting this job. I had never been a president … I did apply for this job, and I did get it.”

10)She loves the students here: Maybe it’s no surprise to us, but to Martin the love she receives from the students is a big deal. “I’m just continually surprised, and just love how the students are so warm and like having me come to their events … I expected this job to be a lot of management work … Now that I made a Facebook, as these students are sending me pictures. There’s a graphic, ‘Sue Mar is my home girl,’ where is that coming from?”


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