Former N.C. Chief Justice Installed as New Dean of Regent Law
Written by Brian Connor
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (March 1, 2019) ? Hundreds gathered inside Robertson Hall’s Moot Courtroom for the installation service of Regent University’s new dean of the School of Law, the Honorable Mark Martin. Having stepped down as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina a day earlier, Martin brings a wealth of judicial and leadership experience to his new position.
Martin served North Carolina for more than 26 years as a judge, including 20-plus years on the state’s Supreme Court. In 1992, at age 29, Martin became the youngest superior court judge in the modern era. Just two years later, at 31 years old, Martin became the youngest judge in the history of the N.C. Court of Appeals. In 1998, as a 35-year-old, Martin was elected as the youngest Justice in the history of the Supreme Court of N.C., becoming Chief Justice on September 1, 2014.
Regent’s Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, served as host for the installation service. He called Dean Martin’s installation “a historic moment, not just for Regent University, but also for our nation and the world, as our School of Law continues to educate and train Christian leaders to change the world.”
Moreno-Riaño also acknowledged the Honorable Marion R. Warren, Regent’s new senior associate dean for the School of Law. Warren previously worked alongside Martin as N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts Director. Martin’s wife Kym attended the ceremony with three of their five children, as did the new dean’s sister, his brother and other extended family members.
Other distinguished guests included several members of Regent’s Board of Trustees, the mayor of Virginia Beach, Robert Dyer; Gordon Robertson, CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network; members of the state-court benches and courts of appeals for Virginia and North Carolina; justices from the Supreme Court of N.C.; and members of the federal judiciary.
After recognizing the school’s record-breaking growth and expanding number of degree programs, Moreno-Riaño introduced the university’s founder, chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson. His “charge” to the School of Law was clear, bold and direct. “We will be the best law school in the world!” he said. “My prayer is this: From this school, I want to have a member of the United States Supreme Court, as one of our graduates.”
Robertson also said his goal is for students who attend Regent Law is “to become experts in constitutional law.” Then he added, “I want this school to be the center of constitutional excellence and legal scholarship that will rival any school in the land.”
The chairman of Regent University’s board of trustees, Phillip Walker, has known Martin for more than 25 years. While introducing the now-former judge and welcoming him to the “Regent family,” Walker said of his friend, “He is recognized as a tremendous leader in the state of North Carolina and has been for the past two decades. God has really used him with his intellect, character and integrity.”
A video highlighting Martin’s love for and contributions to the “Tar Heel State” followed Walker’s introduction. Then, the new dean delivered his installation address. “To the faculty, students and administrators at the law school, let me be clear,” Martin said. “Judge Warren and I want to listen; we want to learn; and we want to move forward in a collaborative way to make Regent the best law school it can be.”
Martin also spoke at length about Scotland’s Eric Liddell, an Olympic gold medalist and missionary to China, whose deep faith inspired the Academy award-winning film “Chariots of Fire.” At the 1924 Paris Games, Liddell refused to compete on Sunday, giving up the opportunity to compete in the men’s 100 meters ? a race he could have won. But a day later, he set a world record and finished first in the 400 meters.
“He showed us that Christians can remain faithful to their convictions and be successful in their lives,” Martin explained. “The story of Eric Liddell, a person with a calling to excel in this life, holds special lessons for us here at Regent Law. This is an institution that holds such a calling in the highest regard.”
Delivering his own seven-point charge to Regent Law students, Martin challenged them to understand their a calling to a greater purpose but to expect criticism as they live out a plan “that not everyone accepts or agrees with.”
He encouraged Regent’s future lawyers to value obedience and patience – staying true to their convictions and to do their best with whatever is before them. Martin’s fourth point was for students to use their gifts to benefit others. Next, he charged them to stand on principle, without compromise. “Stick to your guns. Your values are what make you who you are, yet also understand that they are a work in progress,” Martin said.
He continued with a charge to train with discipline – in legal studies and beyond.
“And last, focus on others and their needs,” Martin explained. “You will be a better attorney if you handle matters for your clients as if they were your own challenges and problems.” In closing, he added, “Let’s get started running this race together.”
Immediately after the installation service, a welcome reception honoring Dean Martin and his family was held in the atrium of the Regent University Library.
ABOUT REGENT UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1978, Regent University has 11,000 students studying on its 70-acre campus in Virginia Beach, Va., and online around the world. The university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from a Christian perspective in more than 130 program areas including business, communication and the arts, cybersecurity and technology, divinity, education, government, law, leadership, nursing and healthcare, and psychology. Currently, Regent University tops the list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Virginia and is ranked among top national universities by U.S. News & World Report.
The Regent University School of Law opened in 1986 and is fully approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Regent Law’s more than 3,300 graduates practice law in 49 states and more than 20 countries and include 38 sitting judges. The school is uniquely built upon a Christ-centered mission, first-rate faculty, and an exceptional academic program to develop highly skilled, purpose-driven graduates who impact the world.
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