While students at the College of William and Mary may know Vice President of Administration Anna B. Martin primarily by her campus-wide emails, she characterizes her time at the College by the human connections she has made over the last 14 years.
Martin will retire early in the spring of 2015. After receiving her master’s degree from Virginia Tech, she searched for a small liberal arts college with a supportive environment and found her match when she came to the College in 2001.
“The kind of community that William and Mary has is very rare,” Martin said. “I don’t think the loyalty of the faculty, staff, students and alumni is found in as many places as it is here. It’s really quite strong and quite different.”
Martin said she is ready to move on to different experiences, but is proud of her work at the College.
“I believe there’s an arc to every job, and I believe that I’ve accomplished what I was meant to accomplish here,” Martin said. “It’s a good time to go.”
Martin has worked in the areas of emergency management, human resources, and campus construction at the College. She also led the implementation of a new Human Resources System to better support the employees. Martin said that 80 percent of the budget goes to the people, because they’re the College’s greatest resource.
Martin also oversaw the expansive addition and renovation of buildings all over campus, including Alan B. Miller Hall and the expansion of the Campus Recreation Center. Senior Planner Martha Sheets has worked with Martin since she came to the College, and said these construction projects, which cost more than $600 million in total, transformed the College.
“It’s an expansion of campus square footage by more than 30% — a phenomenal accomplishment!” Sheets said in an email. “The College had not seen such growth and progression since the creation of the ‘New Campus’ in the 1960s. It’s remade William and Mary. This is not the same university that it was 15 years ago — it’s incredibly better.”
One of the most challenging aspects of Martin’s job was dealing with emergency and threat management, which extends from inclement weather to cyber security. Emergency Management Coordinator Kenton Towner said that Martin’s efforts to address emergencies and threats facing the College have made the campus a safer place.
“Through her efforts and leadership, William and Mary adopted formal all hazard emergency planning processes, began using national standards for emergency organization and communication, and implemented a training and exercise program that better prepares the university’s administration to manage emergencies,” Towner said in an email. “She also brought technology supporting student safety to campus by introducing two mobile apps, Guardian and In Case of Crisis. … Ultimately, the campus is a safer place to live, study and work because of Anna Martin’s dedication to public safety.”
Students at the College are likely most familiar with Martin’s snow day emails, which she acknowledges are the medium through which she connected with the student body the most. Martin said she understands the student reaction to her emails may not always be favorable, but that ultimately, safety comes first.
“I understand that I have my own Twitter account that I didn’t create, so it seems to be what I’m most known for by the student body,” Martin said. “You get backlash if you cancel classes and you get backlash if you don’t. So you always [have] to think about what’s the best thing to do in the moment and you use the best information you have to make those decisions. You’re never going to make everybody happy, but we hope we do the right thing and make the right call.”
Until recently, Martin’s message at the end of her emails was a quote from Tom Brokaw’s commencement speech at the College on May 17, 2009: “It will do us little good… to wire the world, if we short-circuit our souls.”
Her choice to end even her sometimes-disappointing snow day emails with this quote demonstrates Martin’s belief in the importance of human connection, especially with the prominence of technology in our lives. Martin said her experience at the College has been rewarding because of these connections.
“It’s a combination of the people and the accomplishments — the things we’ve built together, and I mean built in the broadest sense,” Martin said.
When asked what her middle initial stood for, she kept silent.
“I’m not going to tell you. … It’s still a mystery,” Martin said.