Leslie Martin, who retired from his position as a University of Kentucky administrator more than two decades ago after helping integrate residence halls and serving as a mentor to many students, died Wednesday at his home. He was 92.
"He believed in the ability of all students to learn and succeed," said Kakie Urch, an assistant professor of multimedia at UK and a relative.
Mr. Martin will be remembered for his dedication to helping students working against racial or gender discrimination or other personal obstacles, Urch said.
She said Mr. Martin was her mentor. He offered her constant encouragement and tough love, as he did for many of his mentees. "I struggled as an undergraduate, and he encouraged me and helped boost my confidence," Urch said.
Mr. Martin retired from UK as Dean of Men in 1986 after a 40-year career there, Urch said. He was a professor of psychology and education. During his tenure under President Herman L. Donovan, who died in 1964, residence halls were integrated.
Mr. Martin also awarded the first men's athletic scholarship to a woman, Mary Lou Daniels of Louisville, who played on the men's team and had a career in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
"Martin's focus on helping and nurturing students perhaps dates to his upbringing," according to a biography from UK. Mr. Martin and his two brothers were raised in an orphanage after his widowed mother gave them up during the Great Depression.
Mr. Martin established what became UK's counseling center to offer services to returning veteran's in need of psychological support. He had been chief psychologist at the U.S. Army Air Force Hospital from 1942-1946. He also created the Department of Higher and Adult Education at UK. Mr. Martin was author of more than 60 research reports and the co-author of three books.
He died on his horse farm in Versailles after suffering from a variety of health and circulatory problems, Urch said. He is survived by a niece and three stepchildren. His family has planned a private memorial after his cremation.