Press Release

James Martin II elected chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University – UNC System

Civil engineer and former engineering dean at the University of Pittsburgh will lead nation’s largest HBCU

RALEIGH, N.C. – James Martin II, an accomplished civil engineer who has led engineering and STEM initiatives at three large public research universities, was elected chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University today by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

UNC System President Peter Hans recommended Martin, vice chancellor of STEM Innovation and Research at the University of Pittsburgh, following a national search that drew a highly competitive field, including three finalists endorsed by the North Carolina A&T Board of Trustees.

Martin’s appointment will begin on Aug. 15. He succeeds Harold Martin Sr., who will retire after 15 years as chancellor.

James Martin, who served four years as the U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering in Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, has decades of experience as an engineering professor, institute director, dean and leader of science initiatives at major public universities, including Clemson University and Virginia Tech.

During his career, he has promoted academic innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration and improved organizational culture. He will now lead the nation’s largest historically Black university on a trajectory to become a top-tier research institution, termed “Research 1” by the Carnegie Classification that categorizes universities by their levels of research activity.

“James Martin is the right leader to engineer North Carolina A&T’s continuing rise,” Hans said. “He believes in what he calls ‘impatient optimism,’ a productive sense of possibility in what can be achieved when people think across disciplines, feel a sense of shared purpose, and commit to an ambitious vision. It’s exactly the kind of mindset that will help affirm the university’s status as one of the nation’s best research institutions and engines of social mobility.”

“North Carolina A&T is a recognized national leader in harnessing technology and access to learning to unlock human potential,” Martin said. “That’s one of many reasons why it’s so exciting to have been chosen to lead the university at a moment when America is in particular need of the very things that North Carolina A&T does best. Our students, faculty, staff and alumni are on an incredible ascent, having accomplished so much in recent years. I look forward to joining them on that journey and ensuring that we continue to build on A&T’s exceptional momentum as we set ambitious new sights for the months and years ahead.”

As dean at Pittsburgh, he oversaw an engineering program with 2,900 undergraduates, 850 graduate students and 200 faculty. There he raised research dollars by 50 percent, built strategic partnerships with industry and government, and increased diversity, enrollment and graduation rates. Previously, he chaired the civil engineering department at Clemson University and was the founding executive director of Clemson’s Risk Engineering and Systems Analytics Institute (RESA).

A scholar in disaster risk engineering and earthquake science, he has conducted research around the world in earthquake zones, leading to stronger building codes in the United States. He has provided international engineering consulting for nearly 100 firms and government agencies.

He began his career as a faculty member in civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, where he later led an engineering fellowship program for underrepresented students and founded the university’s Disaster Risk Management Institute. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at The Citadel and a master’s and doctorate in civil engineering from Virginia Tech. He was born in Union, South Carolina to a family with deep roots across the Carolinas.

His numerous national, state and university awards for research, teaching, scholarship and service include the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Norman Medal, the highest honor for published work in his field. He was also inducted into the Virginia Tech Department of Civil Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2015.

“Dr. Martin is an exceptional leader with a strong vision for where we can take our university in the coming years,” said A&T Board of Trustees Chair Kimberly Bullock Gatling. “North Carolina A&T has enjoyed enormous success in recent years, and I have no doubt that Dr. Martin will continue the university’s strong ascent and increase our national presence as a doctoral, research land-grant HBCU.”

“We were fortunate in this national search to draw a very competitive field of applicants and nominees from across the country. It was gratifying to see a certain standard of quality in leadership throughout the field,” said Search Advisory Committee Chair Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, former chair of the A&T Board of Trustees. “From the beginning, Dr. Martin emerged as a leading candidate in his background, preparation and the vision he articulated for A&T. He will be an outstanding leader for our university.”

“North Carolina A&T has been extremely fortunate to have Dr. Harold Martin as chancellor for these last 15 years, and now the university has another fantastic leader in Dr. James Martin,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey. “He comes to A&T with decades of leadership experience and a track record of building and innovating. I join the Aggie community in congratulating him on his important new role.”

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