Meet a Roadrunner: UTSA Professor Emerita Marian Martinello

Marian Martinello

UTSA Professor Emerita Marian Martinello
(Photo by Mark McClendon)

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(Sept. 4, 2013) -- Meet Professor Emerita Marian Martinello.

Martinello joined the UTSA faculty in 1975 and retired in 2000, but she has remained affiliated with the university in various capacities: She returned briefly to serve as associate dean for research in the College of Education and Human Development, regularly attends a reception welcoming new faculty to campus, and recently served on a subcommittee to develop the new Academic Inquiry and Scholarship course.

She also is a longtime donor. These days, she's also a frequent visitor to the Libraries' Special Collections, where she is delving into the Mexican cookbook and photograph collections as research for a young-adult novel she's penning about a chili queen in 1880s San Antonio.

But last month, Martinello did something she has not done in more than a decade: She unpacked the pale blue doctoral gown of her alma mater, Columbia University, to wear at the Fall 2013 Convocation. She was one of five members of the UTSA Retired Faculty Association, of which she is president, who walked in the ceremonies welcoming new freshmen to UTSA.

"I always participated in commencement because I felt it was important to be there for the students," Martinello said. In fact, at her final commencement before she retired, she was tapped to serve as the university marshal and carry the ceremonial mace in the processional.

But after that last ceremony, she said, "I took my cap and gown and packed them up."

As they have expanded their activities and outreach on campus, members of the RFA decided it was time to pull their regalia out of storage. RFA members José Jimenez, Carolyn Kessler, Raymond Padilla and Joel Saegert also participated in this year's convocation.

Donning her regalia and taking part in the faculty processional once again after a 13-year lull reaffirmed her connection to the university's community of learners and scholars and "brought back beautiful memories," she said.

It reminded her not only of colleagues and former students, but also of her own efforts as a faculty member at a growing university: developing new courses and programs; designing and implementing teaching innovations in the classroom; preparing instructional materials; and even competing for grants.

"The cap and gown are symbolic to me of academic achievement, not just my own," Martinello said. "As a first-generation college student myself, I understand the difficulties of attaining undergraduate and graduate degrees. When I completed my doctorate, I made a commitment to help younger generations of students learn and earn their degrees.

"My cap and gown speak to me of the thousands who have studied with me in their quest for academic achievement. It is also symbolic of the work and achievements of all who have and will come after."

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