The Tennessee Board of Regents started their meeting Friday morning with a special award for a local philanthropist.
The regents presented James Martin with the annual award for philanthropy. Martin has given several million dollars to local arts programs, including a recent $3 million gift to East Tennessee State University to kick off the fundraising for a proposed performing arts center.
Because of that gift and several others the performing arts program at ETSU is now named for his late wife Mary B. Martin.
"When you bring together his contributions today coupled with his gift we announced a few weeks ago, he is single-handedly transforming the fate of the arts at our institution," said ETSU president Brian Noland.
James and Mary B. Martin worked for Eastman Chemical Company for many years. They hold several patents, which helped them become very successful.
Martin says he wants to use his money to help promote arts programs across the region.