For Andrew Martin, an academic journey comes full circle
Andrew Martin did not always know he was destined for academia. Back in the summer of 1993 the man who just became Washington University’s next chancellor had just finished his junior year at the College of William and Mary and had no idea where his postgraduate life would take him.
“As an undergraduate I studied mathematics and government,” he explained. “I had two majors, I wrote my thesis in math and I didn’t really have any idea how those two things fit together.”
That summer, Martin returned home to Lafayette, Ind., where one day he got lunch at the Acropolis Restaurant with a family friend that gave him a piece of academic guidance that changed the course of his career.
“He said ‘Hey Andrew, have you ever heard of this thing called political methodology?’ The answer to that question was no,” Martin remembered. “And he said ‘Well this is mathematical modeling setting policy. This is something that can bring your two interests together.’”
Martin said that this family friend advised him that there were three institutions that were the best in the world at political methodology: the University of Rochester, the California Institute of Technology and Washington University in St. Louis.
“I ended up applying to all three,” Martin said. “I got into Wash. U. I visited here and decided I wasn’t interested in the other programs and enrolled that fall.”
Since arriving at Wash. U. to pursue a Ph.D. in political science in the fall of 1994, it seems like Martin can never stay away from Washington University for too long. Martin finished his doctorate in 1998, and immediately debunked for Stony Brook University. However, he had only been there for two years when he received a call inviting him back to St. Louis to help create a revamped political methodology curriculum that was expanding to undergraduates.
In his second stint at Wash. U., Martin stayed for 14 years and built up an impressive resume. He became one of the nation’s foremost experts in the use of empirical data to study judicial decision making and helped to create the Martin-Quinn score, a metric used to measure the ideology of Supreme Court justices. He rose to be department chair in political science and—because his research was so law-centric—held a joint appointment in the law school, eventually becoming vice dean there.
In 2014 he left the Danforth Campus for the second time. This time it was to become the dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) at the University of Michigan. “I decided…that my day-to-day life was much more fulfilling in academic leadership,” he said. “And I also thought that I could make the world a lot better place by helping empower academic institutions to do even more than I could by continuing to write papers and teach students. So I was interested in a deanship.”
And so Martin, his wife Stephanie—who he met during his time as a graduate student in St. Louis—their daughter Olive and their Boston Terrier Danny moved to Ann Arbor. Martin said he was conflicted about leaving St. Louis but “the LSA deanship is the best job that I’ve ever had.”
While at Michigan Martin helped draft and launch a five-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan, which made modest, though not enormous, strides in its first year. He also helped launch the LSA Opportunity Hub, meant to help liberal arts students unsure of how to parlay their undergraduate studies into professional careers.
Once again, however, his time away from Wash. U. proved to be short-lived. After just four years at Michigan, Martin will be returning to the place where his academic career began in earnest to become Washington University’s 15th chancellor.
Even as chancellor, Martin said he plans on remaining true to his roots as an academic. “First and foremost, I’m a quantitative political scientist,” he said. Martin added that he plans on finding himself back in the classroom teaching undergraduates once he is back at Wash. U, and wants to interact with students as directly as possible.
One of the ways Martin said he plans on keeping communication open is through his Twitter page, though because he is a quantitative political scientist studying the Supreme Court, his page has recently been full of charts plotting the ideological alignment of recent nominee Brett Kavanagh.
Most of all though, Martin said he is excited to be returning to the university and the city that defined so much of his academic life. “This has got to be the greatest job in American higher education,” he said “I’m really thrilled to be coming home back to the university and back to St. Louis.”