To her great embarrassment – but the College’s great delight – Martha Hess ’67 was described as a college legend in 2005, when she was awarded the College’s Alumni Citation.
She was equally embarrassed by the title “Legend of Anderson Hall.”
Martha – who was mentored by Elizabeth Jackson, Viola Lightfoot and Carolyn Blair – found it difficult to see herself in the same league as people who arrived on the Maryville College campus well before she was born.
She shouldn’t have.
Martha was every bit the standard-bearer of Dr. Jackson, the counselor of Miss Lightfoot and the graciousness of Dr. Blair – all people who greatly influenced her as a student in the 1960s.
Becoming the Registrar at Maryville College wasn’t in her plans at graduation. She spent seven years teaching math and English at Farragut High School in Knoxville before succeeding Miss Lightfoot.
Dr. Blair, who was then dean of the College, was quoted in a press release, announcing the appointment. She stated: “An effective college registrar must have a rare combination of talents and experience. We think we have found that combination in Martha Hess. From her student days at Maryville College, she brings an understanding of the small liberal arts college. From her more recent experiences in administration and as a teacher of English and mathematics, she brings to this position the necessary breadth and perspective on the total educational process.”
How right Carolyn Blair was! Martha was a rare combination of talents and experience. Just five years after she moved into the Registrar’s Office in Anderson Hall, she was named the first recipient of the Outstanding Administrator Award.
The personification of service from 1974 until her retirement in 2009, she put in endless hours in her job, making sure that student records are completely accurate, and making sure that student, faculty, staff and alumni requests were answered quickly. She offered a listening ear to struggling students and possessed a unique ability to instill the MC spirit in new generations of students.
The administrator who oversaw the College’s Archives, Martha became one of the most – if not the most – knowledgeable persons on the history of this institution who is living today. When the Advancement Division started formulating the idea of a “Legends of Anderson Hall” project, Martha Hess was one of the first people consulted for obvious reasons: She knew the names of former faculty members and their lengths of service, but more importantly, she knew their contributions to this place.
Naturally, Martha argued against her own inclusion, but wouldn’t her Anderson Hall mentors have done the same? … Her humility is even more evidence that she is rightfully an Anderson Hall Legend.