A member of the inaugural faculty at Rocky Vista University, Michael W. Martin, PhD, has been a source of wisdom, compassion, and innovation from the beginning. He began his RVU career as the Assistant Dean for Student Services, where the students’ welfare was his top priority: “He truly cared about the students and enjoyed seeing them become successful,” said Joseph Stasio, DO, FACOFP, Chair of Primary Care Medicine. As the Assistant Dean, he always had time for the students, had their best interests at heart, and was a ceaseless advocate for them. He was not afraid to be honest with them, yet never failed to encourage them through hard times.
In 2015, Dr. Martin was named the Associate Dean for Integrated Curriculum. In this role, he championed the development of RVU’s Integrated Systems-Based Curriculum, then shepherded it though the early years, achieving acclaim for the school throughout the osteopathic medical education system. Thomas Told, DO, FACOFP dist, Dean of RVUCOM, said of his work, “He was one of the principal architects and champions of our curriculum. We have validated [this] each year through performance on national board examinations and residency placement, thereby highlighting the great value of this curriculum.” He also loved teaching pharmacology and took great pride in the success of the students he taught.
Yet it wasn’t only students who benefitted from his insight. He led by example and garnered the admiration and respect of both faculty and administration. “[He was] a role model for the students, faculty, staff, and administration and we should all strive to emulate his level of professionalism,” said Dr. Stasio. Linda Cairns, who served as Special Assistant to Dr. Martin, worked with him since the early days of RVU: “His door was always open to everyone. He saw the best in people, was an encourager, a man of absolute integrity—a man who was easy to respect.” Dr. Told continued, “As Dean, I often sought his advice and counsel on how to handle those perplexing problems that had no great solutions. There seems to be a never-ending supply of those in medical education so we met regularly.”
His life of service has not only touched our lives, but the lives of countless thousands through the hands and minds of the many young physicians he helped train through the years. To the entire RVU family, he was a trusted friend, an esteemed colleague, and a great mentor. His passing, without question, will leave a huge hole in the hearts of all of us here at RVU.
Michael Martin was born in April 6, 1949. He was a native of Colorado and a graduate of Golden High School. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from Colorado State University, then a doctorate in Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology) from University of Texas at Houston. During his career, he served as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at University of North Texas Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM). During his eighteen years at TCOM, he received the Educator of the Year Award and the Exceptional Faculty Award from the PA Studies program. He also taught medical pharmacology at Texas Wesleyan and Texas Christian University Schools of Nursing. He was a founding member of the RVU faculty, starting as the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Pharmacology.
Dr. Martin married his wife, Dr. Charlie Lippolis, in 2004. He had one son, Cody, and a grandson, Cason. He passed away peacefully after losing his battle with cancer on May 7, 2018.
In the days following his passing, a scholarship was created in his memory: the Michael W. Martin Fighting Prairie Dog Student Scholarship. This scholarship is a need-based award for the students at Rocky Vista University. It provides financial relief to the selected student who has worked hard to overcome great obstacles. Dr. Martin had a special heart for students who faced challenges in their lives. One of his most well-known phrases was, “Life happens.” To donate to this scholarship in his memory, visit www.rvu.edu/martin.