Martin family gift endows associate provost for innovation position

Author: Sue Ryan

John and Cathy Martin

John and Cathy Martin of Hinsdale, Illinois, have contributed $5 million to support and endow the University of Notre Dame associate provost for innovation. Vice President Bryan Ritchie, who leads the IDEA Center, the University’s hub for innovation and commercialization, will now hold the title of Vice President and Cathy and John Martin Associate Provost for Innovation.

“We are exceedingly grateful to John and Cathy for their leadership, involvement and support of Notre Dame’s innovation and entrepreneurship efforts,” said Thomas G. Burish, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame. “Their generosity will help to provide the funds needed by the associate provost for innovation to help our faculty, staff and students explore the market potential of the intellectual property they have developed. This is a truly important gift.”

Since its opening in fall 2016, the IDEA Center has launched 62 startup companies, including 35 by Notre Dame students. Ritchie is in his third year leading the University’s innovation and entrepreneurship programs.

Bryan Ritchie in his office at Innovation Park. Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame.Bryan Ritchie

“Creating an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation benefits everyone, including faculty, students, alumni and the community,” Ritchie said. “Deep engagement and support, both financial and operational, from philanthropists like John and Cathy Martin create a solid foundation on which Notre Dame can build a best-in-class commercialization center.”

John Martin is the recently retired co-chief executive officer and founding partner of Antares Capital, a premier provider of acquisition and growth capital to the middle-market private equity community. He retired in April 2019 after 22 years with the firm. Martin earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Notre Dame in 1982, and served for 12 years as a member of the College of Business Advisory Council. He was also appointed as the first chair of the newly established IDEA Center Advisory Council.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are critically important to both the academic and commercial ecosystem today,” he said. “Increasingly, our students, faculty and alumni are imagining and developing solutions to real-world challenges. The IDEA Center has created an atmosphere within which these solutions can be pressure tested and, where appropriate, brought to the commercial markets. This creates a win-win proposition for both the University and these entrepreneurs.

“Cathy and I are thrilled to support these efforts through our endowment of the associate provost for innovation. Bryan and his team have already, in a very short period of time, created an environment of creativity and disciplined investing which will be transformative for Notre Dame and its mission to be a world-class, Catholic research university for many years to come.”

John Martin is a member of the board of directors of the Midtown Educational Foundation, a Chicago-based organization that serves the educational needs of at-risk inner-city Chicago children. He is also a board member of the Executive Club of Chicago and a member of Economic Club of Chicago. He is actively involved in a number of other charitable organizations.

Cathy Martin earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Mount Mary College in 1982. They have four sons, including two who graduated from Notre Dame: Kevin, Jack, Tim, class of 2012, and Bobby, class of 2016.