Professor creates enduring legacy of community

October 13, 2021

Jill Martin

Professor Jill Martin has created a sense of community at Quinnipiac that generations of Bobcats look back on with a smile, a strong feeling of community and a full belly.

Martin’s legacy at the university is vast — stretching from the legal studies program that she chaired for 34 years to the women’s ice hockey team that she served as faculty adviser for nearly two decades. However, arguably her most enduring legacy illuminates the Mount Carmel Dining Hall each year in wonder and anticipation at the annual undergraduate holiday dinner, a beloved annual tradition she established shortly after arriving at Quinnipiac College in 1985.

For her efforts, Martin is being recognized with the university’s prestigious Excellence in Service to Students Award.

“Jill goes out of her way to steer students toward the proper courses, meeting with them as often as they need to help them address any concerns that they may have about their curricular or co-curricular engagement and advocating for variance procedures as need to fit their interests,” said Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, associate professor of legal studies. “Jill works tirelessly to reframe the methods and tasks used in introductory legal studies courses to meet the changing needs of incoming student populations. Under her leadership, the legal studies program has gone from a small paraprofessional program to one of the largest undergraduate majors in the College of Arts and Sciences — one that offers students a liberal arts education in the law.”

The skills she teaches her students in the classroom resonates with them throughout their careers.

“Jill helped me build a solid foundation in the law,” said Chris Kurker Stewart ’05, JD ’08, an attorney at the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. “She challenged and encouraged me to look at our legal system thoughtfully and critically first as a student and now as an attorney.”

However, Martin’s impact stretches far beyond just students in the College of Arts and Sciences — and to tens of thousands of students who’ve attended Quinnipiac, thanks to her work with the undergraduate holiday dinner.

The dinner gives students the opportunity to enjoy a holiday meal, served by faculty, staff and senior administrators in a transformed dining hall — complete with lights, seasonal decorations and a photo booth.

“It’s all about community,” Martin said. “It’s the one event that brings together all members of our community. Faculty, staff and administration look forward to serving our students and giving them a good send-off before exams and the holidays. Everyone is so enthusiastic!”

“The undergraduate holiday dinner is easily one of the highlights of my year,” said Madison Morris ’24. “It’s so great to be able to celebrate the end of the semester with my friends and favorite professors in a holiday wonderland.”

It’s not just the students who enjoy the holiday dinner faculty and staff vie for the best serving locations.

“Her genuine love for students and her tireless efforts on their behalf have both tangibly impacted thousands of students each year,” Gadkar-Wilcox said. “She epitomizes the trust and most authentic spirit of service to Quinnipiac students.”

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