NKU Student Union Ballroom Named for Gordon and Thelma Martin

The Student Union ballroom at Northern Kentucky University is now named in honor of H. Gordon and Thelma Martin.

The Martins were recognized during Wednesday's Board of Regents meeting on campus.

Gordon Martin is known in the region for building homes for returning veterans of World War II, his role in the creation of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in 1969, and and his service on the board of regents in the 1970s and 80s.

Thelma Martin was active in the Erlanger United Methodist Church and the Florence Women’s Club.

“Naming one of our gathering spaces in the Student Union after Gordon and Thelma Martin feels especially appropriate because they worked so tirelessly for the region and the people who live here. Their love for the community and vision for what Northern Kentucky could be, shaped our identity– not just as three counties, but as a unified presence in the Commonwealth full of diverse and passionate people ready to make an impact, like the Martin family has,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya.

Corporex Chairman and longtime NKU supporter Bill Butler also shared praise of his good friend, reminiscing about the first meeting Gordon more than 50 years ago when he talked him into joining the NKY Chamber.

“Gordon was passionate about the recently merged Chamber of Commerce, he being its first President. It was that same unrelenting persuasiveness that caused a young guy to put his money in a place he would least suspect at such a critical time, that contributed to convincing the Governor and Legislature to invest in the Northern Kentucky University campus,” said Butler. “Gordon’s passion for the community and its evolution to unity, to dignity in respect to our peers, and to the Northern Kentucky University was simply bountiful, unending, relentless.”

Gordon and Thelma raised their three sons, Douglas, David and Steven, on a farm near Union. Douglas Martin says his parents loved the region and lived here for their entire lives.

“My father really helped build Northern Kentucky–from the houses to the Chamber. He even led the charge to get Louie B. Nunn to sign off on creating Northern Kentucky University. My mother was a true partner with my dad, helping support him every step of the way,” said Martin. “They would be thrilled to see how far we have come, and I’m very proud to see them honored this way.”

The H. Gordon and Thelma Martin Ballroom has a capacity more than 600 and is used to host many university-wide gatherings and community events, including the recent Gubernatorial debate last fall. 

-Staff report

Photo: Martin family (provided)