La Verne Magazine
"The University of La Verne: A Day in the Life"
Dr. Kim Martin:
Sewing a Piece of Diversity
by Heather Morales
photography by Melissa A. Collett
Displaying the diversity of the world, Dr. Kim Martin, associate professor
of behavioral science and recipient of last year's Excellence in Teaching
Award, collects dolls representative of different cultures. Beginning this
practice 10 years ago, Dr. Martin says friends have encouraged her passion
by contributing to her collection.
The music is loud enough that it can be heard in the outer office of
Founders Hall, Room 107. In the inner office, the bookshelf is lined with
titles such as "Gender," "Women and Madness," "Medical
Anthropology" and "Walden Two." Next to the bookshelf, on
top of a file cabinet, are molds of human and chimpanzee skulls.
On the wall are samples of quilts, needlework and a framed certificate
that reads, "Excellence in Teaching: In recognition of outstanding
contribution to University education and campus leadership." It has
the date of May 15, 1996, printed on it.
Sitting at the desk with her shoes off, Dr. Kim Martin, associate professor
of behavioral science and anthropology, prepares her notes for her Cultural
According to Dr. Martin, the only full-time anthropologist on campus,
there are four major areas of anthropology: cultural anthropology, linguistics,
human adaptation and archeology. She teaches a class in these three areas.
"It's not a very big program but sometimes it gets to be a lot. It
would be nice if there were somebody else to shoulder the responsibilities,"
says Dr. Martin, who has been teaching at the University for six years.
After some thought she adds, "It's a lot of work, but I wouldn't trade
"I love to teach and partly it's because anthropology is so interesting.
There is so much in it that is exciting, fun and different that you can
use in your everyday life because culture is an important component of our
life in a multi-cultural society," she says.
"Cultural anthropology is really fun to teach because most people
who take it have never heard of anthropology. It's really fun to turn people
on to it," says Dr. Martin.
"In anthropology, there is always a fun example that you can use
to make a point. I love my field; I think it has an enormous amount to offer,"
she says. "I love reading about the research. I love doing the research.
I love telling people about the fascinating things that anthropologists
know and have learned. There's so many challenges in the future that are
going to be built on multi-cultural issues."
Originally a psychology major at Stanford University, Dr. Martin did
not always know her love for anthropology.
"I was enjoying it [psychology], but I wasn't real passionate about
it. I finished up my requirements in my junior year and decided that I would
take some courses for fun. I signed up for a course called "Women in
Anthropological Perspective." It was one of the first courses on sexuality
and gender issues that was taught in the country," says Dr. Martin,
who eventually received her master's degree from the University of Hawaii
and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside. After taking
one anthropology class at Stanford, she says that things just "clicked"
with anthropology, and she received her post-graduate degrees in it.
Dr. Martin says that she "loves the students at La Verne. It's
really special because we're really a family and a community here. I think
that students who haven't been to any other college or university may not
realize how different this is. "We really get to have relationships
with our students and know them for four years. We are more than someone
who stands behind a podium in the front of an auditorium. I'm very grateful
to be here."
Her dedication to her students and her passion for teaching garnered
her the "Excellence in Teaching" award for undergraduates last
spring. "It's an incredible honor, particularly since my peers, colleagues
and friends gave it to me. I interpret this to say that I'm a good teacher,
and I care about my students," Dr. Martin says.
She was not even aware that she was in contention for the award and
was amazed when her name was read at the Town Meeting last spring. "I
was really shocked because I haven't been here that long, and I thought
that the people that get it have been at La Verne and have made a long-term
Her day is long and hectic. She rushes to campus in the morning, and
on some nights she does not leave until late. "About five, I'm clearing
off my desk, answering messages, calling people back and reading my e-mail,"
"When I teach at night, I rush home by about 5:30 and throw together
some dinner," she says, then adds, laughing, "or buy some dinner
on the way home, depending on how tight for time I am."
Dr. Martin spends about an hour at home with her family before heading
back to teach her night classes two days a week. "I really love that
I'm just a few minutes away, and I can go home and come back." She
drives everyday from Claremont where she lives with her daughter, Josie,
a 15-year-old high school sophomore, and her son, Will, a 17-year-old high
school senior. Her husband teaches hotel and restaurant management at Cal
Poly State University, Pomona.
Her children are very important to her, and she says she tries to spend
as much time as possible with them. "It's more of a case of me wanting
to be there for them than they want me to be there," she says. "I'm
gone more than I'd like to be."
So what does Dr. Martin do when she's not teaching or spending time
with her children? "I quilt. I love textiles, and I love designing
the color and texture. I spend whatever spare time I can find designing
quilts," she says. Her love for quilting began on a cross country family
trip six years ago. "I had always done some sort of needlework,"
says Dr. Martin, explaining her quilting. "I decided I would make each
of my kids a quilt from the trip."
The quilts are her favorites, and it took her five years to complete
each one. "Each square represents a different place that we went or
a different thing that we did," she says.
Whether quilting or teaching, Dr. Martin says that she is happy with
her life, and there is little that she would change.
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