Martin to Receive Ernest Spaights Plaza Award

SOE faculty Larry Martin having fun with the UWM Panther. Photo by Simone C. O. Conceição

Larry Martin had some fun with the Pounce statue shortly before retirement.

Dr. Larry G. Martin, PhD., professor emeritus in the Department of Administrative Leadership, will be honored Oct. 13 at UWM’s Fall Awards Ceremony with the Ernest Spaights award. Martin served UWM and the School of Education from 1983 to 2015. The 2021 Fall Awards Ceremony will be live streamed on the campus YouTube channel on Wednesday, October 13th at 2:00 pm.

The Ernest Spaights Plaza award is named in honor of the late Professor Ernest Spaights and is dedicated to individuals who have made significant, enduring and campus-wide contributions to the growth and development of UWM.

Martin dedicated his career to adult education. His research and publications focused on the trends and issues that keep adult learners, particularly those who are low income or people of color from participating in adult education.

He was also a leader of UWM’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

During his 36 years as a scholar practitioner and leader in urban adult and continuing education, he also served as chair of the Department of Administrative Leadership and director of the Urban Education Doctoral Program. He retired in 2015 after more than 32 years at UWM.

Professor Emeritus Dr. Larry G. Martin receives the Ernest Spaights award from UWM Chancellor Mark Mone.

Professor Emeritus Dr. Larry G. Martin receives the Ernest Spaights award from UWM Chancellor Mark Mone.

Martin wrote numerous journal articles and book chapters, co-edited a four-volume compendium on adult education and published three New Directions series books. He served on the editorial boards of many scholarly journals in the field of adult education, and presented at national and international conferences.

Martin’s work led to change. In 1987, he published a study of policy changes to Wisconsin’s General Educational Development (GED) score requirements. His research showed that the changes had negatively affected students – increasing failure rates and lowering persistence levels, leading to a loss of educational and employment opportunities among adults seeking the GED. As a result, the Department of Public Instruction changed the requirements while still maintaining the state’s high standards. More than 800 adults were retroactively awarded their GEDs and thousands more have benefitted with increased employment and education opportunities.

In addition to his research and scholarship, he received high ratings for his teaching. Students shared comments about his passion and the care he provided. In his years of leadership of the Urban Educational Doctoral program, he established an annual research forum that brought in nationally known scholars.

Within the profession, he served on state and national organizations for adult education. As a result of his continuing work, he was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2015.

Martin used his knowledge of adult and organizational learning to lead a campus-based Task Force on Race and Ethnicity, which brought together more than 60 faculty, staff and students. The two-year project resulted several major changes to the university’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

In nominating him, his colleagues said that his scholarship, service and leadership have given voice to the voiceless, empowered the disempowered and informed the uninformed. There is no doubt that Dr. Martin’s contributions helped UWM become a more inclusive, equitable and best place to work.