In 1970, the University instituted an annual tradition of planting a tree to honor an individual who has made significant and lasting contributions to the design, planning, and maintenance of the Grounds. Planted at a public ceremony presided over by the University President on Founder's Day, the tree is to serve as a living memorial celebrating the individual's legacy.
The task of selecting the Founder's Day tree honoree, tree species and location is given to the Arboretum and Landscape Committee, who forwards this recommendation to the President's Office. This year's honoree is Dr. Marcus Martin, Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity.
Dr. Martin has been the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity since 2011 and served as interim for two years before that. In this role, he has expanded the work of the Office for Diversity and Equity and introduced a number of innovations that promote diversity and inclusion. Under his leadership, the Office oversees the Diversity Council and several other committees and programs that support inclusion efforts: the Disability Advocacy and Action Committee; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee; the Women’s Leadership Council; the annual Charlottesville Community Health Fair; and the annual Community Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, a two-week commemoration that consists of 20+ events.
Along with associate dean and history professor Kirt von Daacke, Dr. Martin co-chairs the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, established in 2013 to research and address the history of slavery at UVA. One of the most tangible outcomes of the commission’s work is the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, which is currently under construction near Brooks Hall.
In service to the University and beyond, Dr. Martin serves on numerous committees and boards including Hospice of the Piedmont, Blue Ridge Area PACE, the Chaplaincy Service Pastoral Consultation, The Women’s Initiative, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, the Jefferson School City Center Foundation, and the Kenan Institute for Engineering Technology and Science. He is the principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded VA-NC Alliance, which consists of nine Virginia and North Carolina institutions whose goal is to increase the number of underrepresented students receiving science, technology and engineering, and math degrees. He also served as the founding vice president of the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia organization whose goal is to close the achievement gap for African American males.
Dr. Martin began his career at UVA in July 1996. He was the first African American at the University to chair a clinical department — the Department of Emergency Medicine. Ten years later, Dr. Martin stepped down as chair to begin working in the newly created Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity. Over the next few years, he climbed higher in the ranks, from Assistant Vice President to Associate Vice President. In 2009, he was appointed the Interim Vice President.
During his 23 years of service to UVA, Dr. Martin has provided inspiring and humble leadership in the medical and university community and worked tirelessly on diversity and equity initiatives on Grounds and beyond. He’s made an enormous impact on UVA and the Charlottesville community not only through service, but also through building genuine, positive relationships with countless individuals and always seeking to bring out the best in people. He has been a constant champion for building an inclusive and respectful community.
The tree planting ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. on the east side of the Rotunda, near Brook Hall, and will include remarks from President Ryan; Worthy Martin, Chair of the Arboretum & Landscape Committee; and Dr. Martin. The event is open to the public, and free parking will be available in the Culbreth Road Parking Garage (map).
For the complete list of officially designated memorial trees on Grounds, please click here.