J. Landis “Lanny” Martin ’68, ’73 JD (’02, ’07, ’08 P), Northwestern University alumnus, life trustee, former chairman of the Board of Trustees and one of the university’s most generous donors, died today, September 1, 2023. He was He is 77 years old.
“I am truly saddened to hear of Lanny’s passing. He gave so much to Northwestern University, through his leadership, guidance and unwavering support for his alma mater,” said President Michael Schale. “Lanny’s stewardship of the university during his more than two decades on the Board of Regents, including His service as Chairman of the Board of Directors has helped propel our organization to new heights, across almost every measure. “I am grateful to have known Laney, to have learned from him and for all he did to make Northwestern what it is today.”
A dual graduate, Martin earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1968 and a juris doctorate from Northwestern University in 1973. While an undergraduate at Northwestern, he was involved in Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, the fraternity council and intramural sports. As a law student, Martin worked as an article editor for Northwestern University’s Law Review.
Martin joined the Board of Trustees in 1999. He chaired ad hoc and standing committees, including the Academic Affairs Committee from 2010 to 2015, and served as Vice Chairman of the Board from 2015 until he became Chairman in September 2017, until August 2022. Martin was elected A life trustee in 2022, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters that year. In 1996, he was awarded the Northwestern Alumni Association Alumni Merit Award.
“Lani’s willful leadership, ability to foster partnerships, and remarkable dedication to the University’s success made him an accomplished chairman of the University’s Board of Directors during a critical period,” said Peter Barris, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Through 24 years of trusteeship, generous philanthropy, and relentless advocacy, Lani and his wife Sharon were a hero of the highest order at Northwestern, and he will be sorely missed. Lani is saddened as a colleague and friend, and our thoughts are with Sharon and their children and grandchildren, who will always be a part of the Northwestern family.
Martin’s commitment to Northwestern has been important to the institution’s success. During his tenure as president, the Board of Regents oversaw a period of tremendous growth university-wide. Under his leadership, the Board also provided a close partnership with management that led to a return to balanced financial operations after a period of significant investments and financial challenges; Supporting management during the COVID-19 pandemic, including establishing a special committee of the Council, chaired by Martin; And he chose the seventeenth president of the university.
“Lanny was an exceptional lawyer, business leader, and true Renaissance man who was devoted to Sharon and his family,” said William Osborne, a life trustee at Northwestern and former chairman of the Board of Trustees. “He never shy away from challenges and led Northwestern University as our president through a critical period. He was approachable, charismatic, genuine, highly intelligent, and incredibly successful in everything he did.
Lanny Martin, along with his wife, Sharon, were among Northwestern’s most generous and loyal donors, with their total donations to Northwestern amounting to approximately $45 million. Their longstanding philanthropic support has benefited areas throughout the university, including Northwestern Pritzker Law, Northwestern Athletics and Recreation, the Pennine School of Music, Undergraduate Scholarship Funds, and the Block Museum of Art.
Over the years, the duo created the J. Landis Martin Professorship of Law and Business; Providing unrestricted funding to the law school, allowing for the implementation of innovative strategies to improve legal education and enhance the student experience; helped establish the Lane and Sharon Martin Stadium, the university’s soccer and lacrosse stadium; He gave many generous gifts to the Fund of the Faculty of Law and the Fund of the Bayan School of Music.
Martins served as co-chairs of the we will. Northwestern campaign and the Northwestern Pritzker Act’s “Movement for Leadership” campaign. Martin was also a life member of the Northwestern University Law Council. The Law School officially dedicated the south atrium of the Arthur Rubloff Building as the Lani and Sharon Martin Atrium in 2018, in recognition of the Martins’ exceptional philanthropy and volunteer leadership. The Board of Trustees established the Lanie Martin President’s Appreciation Fund to honor Laney in 2022 when he completed his term as president.
Recently, the Martins made a $3 million gift to endow faculty positions at the Law School, creating a Law Society Professorship Fund along with a matching gift challenge that resulted in the creation of two more professorships.
“Lani’s leadership and generosity have had a transformative impact on our law school, university, and community,” said Harry Osofsky, dean of Northwestern Pritzker University School of Law. “We are so grateful for his wonderful contributions. Lani’s warmth, wise advice, and support have made a huge difference to me and so many others in our community. We send our deepest condolences to Sharon and their children and grandchildren.”
When Martin was in high school and considering where to go to college, his family could not afford Northwestern University. However, his high school counselor Bob Hamblet encouraged him to apply to Northwestern University, where he was able to pay for college due to a generous financial aid package that included campus jobs, mostly in food service. Martin’s passion for ensuring that others have opportunity has led him to create scholarships for undergraduates at Northwestern University from his high school and to support other scholarship funds at Northwestern University and elsewhere.
“Scholarships resonate with me because they provide young people with opportunities,” Martin said in a 2018 interview with the Northwestern University Leadership Circle Newsletter. “By supporting scholarships, you are directly enabling another person to have experiences like those many of us had as students and alumni at Northwestern University.”
Martin was President and Managing Director of Platte River Equity in Denver. He founded the company in 2006 after retiring as Chairman and CEO of Titanium Metals Corporation, one of the largest producers of titanium in the world. He began his career at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where he served on executive and fixed committees. He was also the founding director and chairman of Crown Castle International Corp., the largest owner and operator of wireless communications sites in the United States.
Together, Lani and Sharon have demonstrated deep civic leadership and philanthropy across the country, especially in the arts and in the Denver area. Martin had a deep appreciation for art as a connoisseur, collector, and supporter, and served as President of the Denver Art Museum and Foundation and the Clifford Still Museum Foundation. Also a music lover, Martin has served as president of the Central City Opera and as president and chief of the Houston Grand Opera.
Upon induction into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 2012, Martin said his professional achievement of which he is most proud is founding Platte River Equity, a leading private equity firm that invests in small and medium-sized companies, which takes its name from the Platte River that ran through it. . Grand Island, Nebraska, where Martin was born on November 5, 1945.
He leaves behind his wife, Sharon, and three children – Mary Lister; Sarah Stetner, who received her BA from Northwestern University in 2002 and her JD from Northwestern University in 2007; and Emily Martin Jones, who received her MD from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2008 and completed her residency there in 2011 — and nine grandchildren.