Martin named associate VP for economic development and corporate engagement at Mississippi State

Contact: Jim Laird

James F. “Jim” Martin (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A Mississippi State alumnus with a distinguished career in both the U.S. Air Force and the private sector is returning to his alma mater in a senior executive leadership role.

James F. “Jim” Martin has been named associate vice president for corporate engagement and economic development at MSU.

“We are very pleased that Jim Martin is coming back to join the Mississippi State team,” said David Shaw, the university’s vice president for research and economic development.

Martin earned a bachelor’s degree in professional accountancy from MSU in 1985.

“Jim has a proven track record of meeting complex challenges and working collaboratively. I’m confident he will offer visionary leadership as we continue to work together with business, industry, the State of Mississippi, and other stakeholders to grow economic opportunities,” Shaw said.

Martin will begin his new role on December 1, pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

For three decades, Martin served with distinction in the Air Force in a wide range of financial management leadership positions, where he developed in-depth experience linking strategy, requirements and resources across the full spectrum of operations.

At the time of his retirement from active duty, Major General Martin was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget at the Pentagon in Washington. Leading a professional staff of 130 personnel, he was the chief financial advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff and senior leadership. He and his team formulated and executed annual budgets of more than $132 billion that supported readiness, contingency operations, research, development, testing, procurement and personnel requirements.

He also was the lead advocate for annual budget requests to the U.S. Department of Defense and Congressional Committees, and chaired budget review boards of Air Force operational, personnel and support programs. He was responsible for the professional development of nearly 10,000 Air Force financial managers.

At present, he is a partner with Kearney and Company in Alexandria, Virginia.  In this role, he is an account lead for Kearney’s support to the Department of Homeland Security.  He is responsible for leading and managing multiple teams of more than 80 professionals specializing in operational accounting, budgeting, internal controls, financial and information technology, audit readiness, and risk management.

“It is an absolute honor to return home to Mississippi State and serve the university and our state in this important effort.  Mississippi State plays a critical role in economic and community development throughout the state and well beyond,” Martin said.

“I look forward to building on this strong foundation by connecting our researchers, resources and expertise with business and industry and working with local and state economic developers to enhance job creation and quality of life,” he said.

According to Shaw, Mississippi State’s central economic development objective is to strengthen collaborations between the university, economic development organizations and businesses to create high-wage jobs and to leverage its robust research activities through increasing licensing agreements and building other profitable relationships with both existing industries and university startup companies.

Additionally, the university is home to the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park — the state’s largest research park and a research- and innovation-based economic development hub.

Mississippi State is the only university in the state to achieve Innovation and Economic Prosperity University status from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and its Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity. The designation — attained after a rigorous review process — recognizes MSU for working to advance engagement and economic well being in the state, region and nation.

Kathy Gelston, who currently serves as associate vice president, is retiring in December.

“During her time with us here at Mississippi State, and throughout her distinguished career in state government, Kathy has been committed to making Mississippi better through efficient and effective economic development initiatives. We appreciate everything she’s done and wish her the best as she begins this new chapter,” Shaw said.

As the state’s leading research university, Mississippi State’s research expenditures totaled $239.4 million in FY2016, accounting for more than half of the total $455 million in research and development expenditures reported by all Mississippi institutions, according to the National Science Foundation. MSU is a recognized leader in a number of disciplines, and well known for innovative partnerships, real-world impact, and offering undergraduate and graduate students unique research opportunities. Discover more at

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