Longtime Catawba College advocate elected trustee emeritus

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 7, 2019

SALISBURY — The Catawba College board of trustees has elected Martha Kirkland West, Class of 1959, as trustee emeritus.

The retired professor is a longtime Catawba advocate, promoting the college in area schools and recruiting students. She has established several endowed scholarships.

West is a dedicated supporter of the college’s music program, football team, teacher education, campus ministry, science program, Chiefs Club and renovation projects. She was one of the writers the sesquicentennial history book “A College of Our Own: The First 150 Years of Catawba College,” published in 2001.

West was a professor of teacher education at Catawba from 1965 until 1981. She founded the children’s author (Young Authors) project, collaborating with Rowan-Salisbury Schools and Rowan Public Library. The program thrived for more than 25 years, bringing many Caldecott, Newberry and Coretta Scott King award-winning children’s book authors to the community.

West later donated a large collection of children’s books, autographed by the authors, to Corriher-Linn-Black Library. In 2011, she received Catawba’s highest honor, the Adrian L. Shuford Award. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992, given annually by Catawba’s Alumni Association to recognize individuals who have served their community, distinguished themselves in their profession and served the Catawba community.

The West Scholars scholarship program of the Shirley Ritchie Teaching Academy is named in her honor.

As the daughter of Catawba coach Gordon Kirkland, West grew up on campus. Her late husband, James King West, served for 22 years as a professor of religion at Catawba.

She was elected to the board of trustees in 1995 and served until April. From 1995 until 2019, she was a member of the academic quality committee of the board of trustees.

In the Salisbury community, she served as director of elementary education for Salisbury-Rowan Schools for 17 years. She retired in 1999 and then served four years on the Rowan-Salisbury school board, two years as vice chairwoman. She was a member of the Salisbury Symphony board, serving two years as its president, the Rowan Museum board, and board of the Salvation Army.

In 2016, she was honored by Smart Start with the Shirley P. Ritchie Champion for Young Children Award.