Don Martin taught in School of Education for 40 years

Forty-year School of Education professor Don T. Martin died on Feb 17, 2019 at 87.

Martin’s former Ph.D. program advisee Keith Trahan — now associate director of the school’s Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity — recalls his mentor as possessing “a huge wealth of knowledge in the history and the social context of education, dating back to the origins of the United States. It was a pleasure to work with him.”

He describes Martin as both a bit of a traditionalist and yet “slightly counter-culture,” helping Trahan to study the history of U.S. education in the 1960s and the importance of taking lessons from this history. The two of them had comparable small-town backgrounds, he said — Martin grew up in Greensboro, Penn., and his father was a steelworker.

“He used to talk a lot about how he grew up in the working class,” Trahan said. “It was good to share that — to have someone in a large research university who came from a similar context. That was really helpful to me.”

Martin guided his classes through “deep, thoughtful, passionate discussions,” Trahan remembered. “His appreciation for the history of social issues in education — I really take this to heart and try to carry it forward.”

Born on Jan. 26, 1932, Martin joined the Air Force from high school and was stationed in Wyoming during the Korean War, 1952-1956. He then earned his B.S. from West Virginia University in 1961 and his M.A. from the same institution a year later, while teaching at several high schools. After moving to teach at Pleasantview High School in Grove City, Ohio, he earned his Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 1970, then joined the Pitt faculty that year. He taught courses in the history and philosophy of education to both undergraduate and graduate students.

A memorial on the School of Education’s website notes that Martin “chaired several dissertation committees for foreign students, many of whom returned to their native countries to take prominent positions in institutions of higher education and government.” He also spent years on the athletic committee of the Faculty Senate and held Pitt football season tickets for 45 years, it noted, “and enthusiastically travelled to many away games to cheer on the team.”

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Elizabeth Jane, three children and six grandchildren. Memorials are suggested to the Pitt Panther football program at