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Martin Gift to Bolster Environmental Efforts

A private foundation created by an alumnus and his family has made a $3 million gift to MIT to support interdisciplinary research and education on global environmental issues.

The gift comes from the Martin Foundation, Inc., of Elkhart, Ind., which has provided significant support to MIT in recent years, including the establishment of the Martin Center for Engineering Design in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a unique graduate fellowship for the study of environmental issues.

MIT has announced that it will use the most recent gift to establish the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professorship in Environmental Studies and the Martin Fund. The first holder of the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professorship will be named soon, MIT Provost Mark S. Wrighton has announced. The fund, he said, will underwrite programs in environmental studies.

Lee Martin, who received the SB and SM degrees in engineering from MIT in 1943, established the Martin Foundation in 1953 with his wife Geraldine and his parents. Geraldine Martin is president of the foundation.

MIT President Charles M. Vest expressed the Institute's thanks for the Martin Foundation gift and said that Lee and Geraldine Martin's "visionary support will help to lead MIT toward solutions to urgent environmental problems."

Professor Wrighton praised the Martin Foundation for "recognizing that only an integrated interdisciplinary approach can properly respond to the global environmental imperative."

Mrs. Martin, as president of the Martin Foundation, issued this comment:

"The thought of MIT committing a portion of its mental might to solving some of earth's environmental problems inspired this gift. My husband and I hope our commitment will encourage others to support MIT as it seeks to establish important connections between people and disciplines, both nationally and internationally."

Mr. Martin is chairman of NIBCO Inc. of Elkhart, Ind., a leading manufacturer of pipe fittings, valves and plumbing fixtures, primarily for water distribution in buildings. He joined NIBCO in 1943. The company was founded in 1904 by Mr. Martin's grandfather. The president and chief executive officer of NIBCO is Rex Martin, son of Lee and Geraldine, who received the SM from MIT's Sloan School of Management in 1983. Another Martin son, Casper, received the SM from the Sloan School in 1985.

In order to address environmental issues, MIT has combined the focus of its highly developed disciplines in science and engineering and its tradition of collaborative work, rather than establishing new schools or academic departments.

The effort takes an international view and is strongly supported by MIT programs in economics, management, political science and architecture and planning. It also reflects MIT's traditionally close link between research and education.

The MIT Council on Global Environment, chaired by Provost Wrighton, is the central forum for addressing diverse research and educational issues related to the environment. The council has been established to provide the multiple perspectives required to illuminate the broad range of scientific, technological and policy-related factors involved in knowledgeable environmental action.

Many of MIT's academic departments are involved in the Institute's extensive environmental research and educational programs. MIT's contributions to the environment are also furthered through several interdisciplinary centers and programs. These include the Center for Global Change Science, the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, the Program in Environmental Engineering Education and Research (PEEER), the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory (devoted to forces that affect water), the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, the Center for Construction Research and Engineering, the Energy Laboratory, and the Environmental Policy and Planning Group.

Funds from the new Martin contribution will be used to support a broad range of activities in these areas.

A version of this article appeared in the May 27, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 32).

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