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David Martin

Assistant Professor in Hotel and Restaurant Management
College of Human Sciences

A native of Birmingham, Ala., David Martin first came to Auburn University in 1997 to major in hotel and restaurant management in the College of Human Sciences. After working for several years in hotels across the country, Martin returned to Auburn for a master's degree and a Ph.D. While back on the Plains, Martin met a woman named Kelly, a fellow Auburn student he would eventually marry. After receiving his doctorate, Martin got a job at San Francisco State University in California, and remained out west until a teaching opportunity opened up at Auburn. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management, and recently returned from a month-long European tour, completely planned by Auburn students.

1. Why did you choose to major in hotel and restaurant management?

While I was in high school I got my first job working the counter at a little place in Cahaba Heights called the Bagel Factory. It was my first taste of working in the service industry and I enjoyed every minute of it. Later on, my family took ownership and operation of a Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream Shoppe and about a year after that we started our own restaurant as well. Majoring in hospitality management was a no-brainer.

2. You left the Plains with three degrees and a wife, Kelly. Where did you go and what did you do?

I met Kelly while I was working on my master's degree. As it turned out, she was majoring in interior design, which is also in the College of Human Sciences. We were friends for more than a year before we started dating, at which point I was working on my Ph.D. We graduated at the same time and she had accepted a job in Birmingham, while I had a job in San Francisco. We continued dating for almost a year "long distance" until we got married in Auburn. We then spent our first year and a half together living in San Francisco before making our way back to Auburn.

3. What made you come back to Auburn?

Coming back to Auburn was something that Kelly and I had always wanted to do, but we were not sure if it would ever happen. After working as a professor for three years in San Francisco, a job in the hospitality management program at Auburn came open and I put in my application. It was a long process, but eventually I got the phone call letting me know that I had gotten the job. It took us all of five seconds to agree to come back home.

4. Your department head, Martin O'Neill, developed a four-week tour of Europe planned entirely by students. Why did you go on this trip twice when you were a student?

I went twice with Dr. O'Neill and both times I had the same motivation: to see the world. Prior to this trip I had never traveled outside of the United States, and being able to see so many different cities and countries in such a short amount of time was just too good to pass up. It was truly an eye-opening experience.

5. You know how demanding the trip is for students. Why would you want to do it again as a faculty member?

For starters, I love working with students and being able to take them on a trip of this magnitude is really refreshing. This trip represents a very different dynamic than the traditional classroom setting and being able to see students go through a similar experience to what I went through is very rewarding. Additionally, I have seen firsthand the kind of impact that this trip can have on a student and the perspective that it brings. Classroom instruction is the foundation of higher education, but any time we can take students out of the classroom and put them into a real world situation, we should do it.

To learn more about the European trip offered through the College of Human Sciences, go to this link.

Jun. 13, 2011