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$8 million Martin gift to aid environment graduate students

The Martin Foundation, Inc., founded by Lee and Geraldine Martin, has pledged a major gift of $8 million to bolster MIT's endowed funding for graduate students in environmental issues.

Ten environmental fellowships--eight new and two existing--will be called the Martin Family Society of Graduate Fellowships in Sustainability. At least 10 other graduate students will be named each year to participate in the Society but will receive their fellowship funding from other sources.

The gift will endow eight new Martin Fellowships over a period of eight years, in addition to the existing Martin Fellowship in Environmental Issues that the family created in 1992 along with the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professorship in Environmental Studies.

Part of the gift will also augment the fund for the Molina Fellowship in Environmental Sciences, which was established by Professor Mario Molina--who holds the Martin chair--with part of his Nobel prize money. Dr. Molina won the Nobel prize in 1995 for his work in demonstrating the link between man-made atmospheric chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere and damage to the ozone layer. The fellowship program that bears his name brings graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and young scientists from emerging nations to MIT to pursue studies in atmospheric science and related areas.

Lee Martin, who received the SB in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1942, established the Martin Foundation of Elkhart, IN, in 1953 with his wife Geraldine and his parents. Lee and Geraldine Martin's daughter Elizabeth is president of the foundation, which also funded the establishment of the Martin Center for Engineering Design in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The Martin Fellows will be overseen by Professor Rafael Bras, head of civil and environmental engineering and a member of the MIT Council for Environment. The Council is co-chaired by provost Joel Moses and Dr. David Marks, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of MIT's Program in Environmental Education and Research.

"This is a marvelous gift from a wonderful family that clearly is dedicated to environmental and sustain-ability issues, and understands the needs to build the leaders for the future all over the world who will help guide us towards good and equitable solutions," Professor Marks said.

As well as helping MIT and its students, the Martin gift will ultimately benefit the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS), a strategic research alliance founded by MIT, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology and the University of Tokyo in 1995.

Earlier this year, the Council named the first 24 members of the Society of Graduate Fellows for Sustainability, an honor society of graduate students who participated in AGS events and exchanged information on environment and sustainability issues.

After graduation, the Martin Fellows "will become an international network of experts and policy makers committed to applying sound science, engineering and management to improve our environment and the human condition through work in industry, academia and government," according to President Charles M. Vest.

"We came to the realization that because of our profound belief in the need and importance of the sustainability program, we are once again prepared to put our faith, as well as our dollars, behind MIT," Mrs. Martin wrote. The Fellows program goal as outlined by Dr. Vest "is an ambitious and inspiring one. We want to be part of that dream."

Mr. Martin is chairman of NIBCO Inc., 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.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 11, 1997.

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