Longtime Catawba College Advocate Elected Trustee Emerita
November 13, 2019
The Catawba College Board of Trustees has elected Dr. Martha Kirkland West, Class of ’59, as Trustee Emerita. The retired professor is a longtime Catawba advocate in the community, promoting the College within area schools and recruiting students. She has established several endowed scholarships at Catawba.
She is a dedicated supporter of the College’s music program, football team, teacher education, campus ministry, science program, Chiefs Club and renovation projects. She is one of the writers of Catawba’s sesquicentennial history book, A College of Our Own: The First 150 Years of Catawba College, published 2001.
Dr. West served as a professor of teacher education at Catawba for 16 years, from 1965 until 1981. She founded the children's author (Young Authors) project, collaborating with the Rowan-Salisbury Schools and the Rowan Public Library. The program thrived for more than 25 years, bringing many Caldecott Award, Newberry Award and Coretta Scott King Award winning children's book authors to the community. Dr. West later donated a large collection of children's books, autographed by their authors, to the Catawba College's Corriher-Linn-Black Library.
In 2011, she received Catawba's highest honor, the Adrian L. Shuford Award. She also received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992, given annually by Catawba's Alumni Association, to recognize individuals who have served their community, distinguished themselves in their profession, and have served the Catawba College community. The West Scholars scholarship program of the Shirley Ritchie Teaching Academy is named in her honor.
As the daughter of Catawba Coach Gordon Kirkland, Dr. West grew up on the Catawba campus. Her late husband, Dr. James King, served 22 years as a professor of religion at Catawba.
She was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1995 and served continuously until April 2019. From 1995 until 2019, she was a member of the Academic Quality Committee of the Board of Trustees.
In the Salisbury community, she served as Director of Elementary Education for the Salisbury-Rowan Schools for 17 years. She retired in 1999 and then served four years on the Rowan-Salisbury School Board, two years of which was in the role of vice-chair. She was a member of the Salisbury Symphony Board, serving two years as its president, the Rowan Museum Board, and board of the Salvation Army.
In 2016, she was honored by in the community by Smart Start with the Shirley P. Ritchie Champion for Young Children Award.