Director helps honors students

By Mark Pietrowski

Michael Martin is not a drill sergeant, but he still takes pride in leading a group of the best into battle, even if it is often an academic one.

Martin, University Honors Program director, first became involved with the program as a member of the Honors Committee until the director’s position opened up in Fall 2002.

Martin can relate to students in the honors program because he was one at the University of Georgia, where he studied psychology.

“Actually, their program was a good deal larger than ours here,” Martin said. “Although, with 1,200 honors students at NIU, we are considered a large program.”

Martin said each year the program gets a list of students who score well on their Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Tests in high school from the admissions office and send letters offering them to join the program. Students enrolled in the honors program must maintain a 3.2 GPA to stay in the program.

“I think we offer some real enhancements to students for their education,” he said. “I would like to be able to offer even more seminars for honors students in the future.”

Martin supervises students working on their senior capstone projects. Besides that important role, he has also worked for 22 years as a professor of family and consumer nutrition sciences.

“My primary research area is child abuse and neglect,” he said. “I have taught a course on that for the past 15 years.”

Martin is one of the founders of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, the largest such organization in the state, allowing him to work with abused preschoolers between the age four and six.

“The one big bright spot of working with abused children is when you can see children overcome the kinds of things they have experienced,” he said.

Martha Windelborn, a secretary in the Honors Office, said Martin is easy to work with.

“He is very well-schooled in many disciplines, so he can address the needs of all the students that do their capstone projects in different areas,” Windelborn said. “He is also looking at new ways to get different schools around campus to offer more classes and seats in honors courses.”

Martin gets great joy out of teaching and enjoys helping students with their academics.

“The contact and seeing growth in students over a period of time is my greatest joy,” he said.