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WVU VP Martin to head Poynter Foundation

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Chris Martin / Photo courtesy West Virginia University Chris Martin / Photo courtesy West Virginia University

Chris Martin, West Virginia University's vice president for university relations, has been hired to serve as the president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies' new Poynter Foundation.

The Poynter Institute is a nationally known center for journalism training and an international media studies think tank. It is based in St. Petersburg, Fla. In her new role, Martin will be responsible for increasing philanthropic support for the 37-year-old Institute and will serve as Poynter's vice president for external relations as a member of the Institute's senior management team.

"I am truly grateful for all the opportunities I have had at WVU, the colleagues I have worked with and the friends I have made. The only place with an equal hold on my heart is Poynter," Martin said in a news release.

Martin has been a member of the senior leadership team at WVU for the past nine years. Prior to that, she was dean of the university's Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. She joined the faculty there in 1990. During her time at WVU, she also co-directed Poynter's College Newswriting and Reporting Fellowship Program from 1997 to 2004.

As a WVU faculty member, Martin was the winner of two Freedom Forum Research Awards. She was also named the 1999 Freedom Forum Journalism Professor of the Year, the 1998 CASE/Carnegie Foundation West Virginia Professor of the Year, and in 1998, she earned the WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching.

As dean, she spearheaded fundraising and development for the School of Journalism, leading advancement efforts that resulted in state and federal grants, endowed and funded professorships, scholarships, lectureships, internships, innovation support and capital improvements. During her tenure, she led the establishment of the nation's first online master's degree program in integrated marketing communications. 

She also established the Ogden Newspapers Visiting Professorship — an endowed position designed to bring the best and brightest journalism stars to the WVU campus. 

WVU President Jim Clements lauded Martin's work, saying, "Everyday Chris approached her role on our team with intellect, creativity, integrity and strategic vision. Through her work as a faculty member, dean and vice president at WVU, she has definitely left her mark on the University. We will greatly miss her."

Clements added, "She has a drive to always learn and stay on top of the latest in technology, which is reflected in the work of University Relations. The quality and push for excellence by the whole UR team has led to many awards and helped us reach goals in everything from student recruiting to alumni relations."

Poynter Foundation Board Chair Brian Tierney, former publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer and an expert in branding, marketing and advertising, said of Martin's appointment, "We wanted a leader who loves journalism and teaching, understands the unique role that Poynter plays, and has a proven record of development success. We found all that and more in Christine Martin."

"Poynter has always been the lodestar in my career, a bright light guiding my best work and smartest decisions," Martin said of her return to the Institute. "This move even trumps my first job as a reporter – when I used to phone in extra police calls just so I could say out loud, that I worked for a newspaper.

"This new position gives me a wonderful opportunity to combine my love for journalism, my passion for marketing and relationship building … and my love for Poynter," Martin added. "I am honored for this opportunity to help chart a future for Poynter worthy of its history."

As Poynter's formal fundraising arm, the Foundation will build philanthropic support through major gift solicitation, annual campaigns, planned giving, special events, alumni relations and donor recognition programs. Once fully formed, the Foundation Board will be composed of 20 members, both community and media leaders.

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