Retired North Carolina Chief Justice Mark Martin Installed as Regent’s New Law Dean
On March 1, the Honorable Mark Martin, retired chief justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, became the dean of Regent University’s School of Law. At a special installation service, hundreds gathered inside Robertson Hall’s Moot Courtroom to celebrate Martin — a highly respected jurist who brings a wealth of legal and leadership experience to Regent.
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, he became the youngest superior court judge in the modern era. Two years later, he became the youngest judge in the Court of Appeals in North Carolina’s history. In 1998, Martin was elected to the Supreme Court of North Carolina (the youngest justice in the state’s history) and became chief justice on Sept. 1, 2014.
“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.”
Chief Justice Mark Martin (Ret.)
Dean, School of Law
Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, Regent’s executive vice president for academic affairs, served as host for the ceremony. He called Chief Justice 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 then acknowledged the Honorable Marion R. Warren, Regent’s new senior associate dean for the School of Law, who also was installed on March 1. Warren previously worked alongside Martin as the director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. The chief justice’s wife, Kym, attended the ceremony with three of their five children, as did his sister, brother and other extended family members.
Distinguished guests included several members of Regent’s board of trustees; the mayor of Virginia Beach, Bobby 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 North Carolina; and members of the federal judiciary.
Regent’s founder, Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, was also in attendance and delivered a charge to the School of Law that was clear, bold and direct: “We will be the best law school in the world!” He added, “My prayer is this: From this school, I want to have a member of the U.S. Supreme Court as one of our graduates.”
Robertson also said his goal is for Regent’s law students “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’s board of trustees, Phillip Walker, has known Martin for more than 25 years. While introducing and welcoming the chief justice 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 contributions to the Tar Heel state followed Walker’s introduction. Afterward, 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 spoke at length about Scotland’s Eric Liddell, an Olympic gold medalist and missionary to China, whose deep Christian faith inspired the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire. At the 1924 Paris Games, Liddell refused to compete on Sunday (the Sabbath), giving up the opportunity to contend in the men’s 100 meters — a race he could have won. But a day later, he set a world record, finishing first in the 400 meters.
“He (Liddell) has shown 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.”
Martin continued, “Let’s be a law school where our love for each other is readily visible to each and every person, placing the interests of others above our own. … Let’s be a law school where our excellence, scholarship and commitment are so evident that even those who may disagree with our values concede that something good is happening here.”
In his seven-point charge to Regent Law students, Martin challenged them to understand that God always has a greater purpose, noting, His plan “will not always be the one that everyone accepts or agrees with.” He encouraged future lawyers of Regent to value obedience and patience, use their gifts to benefit others, stand on principle and not compromise, and train with discipline.
“And last, focus on others and their needs,” Martin said. “You will be a better attorney if you handle matters for your clients as if they were your own challenges and problems.” He closed his address with: “Let’s get started running this race together. Like Eric Liddell, with God’s help, we will have a great race.”
A few days after the installation service, Impact sat down with Chief Justice Martin and Judge Warren to discuss their vision for the School of Law moving forward.
“Let’s be a law school where our excellence, scholarship and commitment are so evident that even those who may disagree with our values concede that something good is happening here.”
Chief Justice Mark Martin (Ret.)
Dean, School of Law
“First and foremost, our goal is to help Regent go to that next level,” Martin said. “There are so many things here that have been done and have been done well. So, we’re standing on the shoulders of many who have labored in the vineyards for years. But our specific goal is for this law school to be on the rise, advancing the preparation for lawyer-leaders, so they can make a positive impact in the United States and around the world.”
“Look at what this law school has done to advance the rule of law. It’s time for the world to recognize the impact of this university,” Warren added. “We’re not to be of the world but certainly to be in the world. … Our lawyers are prepared to be in every type of case, in every walk of life, assisting men and women in their daily struggles.”
“Every area of the law needs good people: competent, caring, ethical,” Martin explained. “Our goal is to have graduates go into all these areas.”
For information about pursuing a law career through Regent’s School of Law, call 877.267.5072 or visit regent.edu/law.