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Wake Up 2012-13

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Steven S. Martin and Audrey Kennedy

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Wake Up with Washburn speaker David Burlew in 2011

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Martin: From Washburn nursing student to health care executive

Speaker Steven S. Martin and President Jerry Farley

By Ernie W. Webb III |

As an offensive lineman in the mid-1970s, Steven S. Martin was instrumental in leading the way for the likes of Clarence Taylor, one of the top all-purpose athletes in Washburn football history.

More than 30 years later, Martin is a key figure as one of the executives leading the way in navigating a new health care system.

“We’re at a tipping point in the health care industry,” said Martin, who received a bachelor of science in nursing from Washburn in 1979, a rarity for men in that era. “The reforms will impact all professional and institutional providers of health care services and products.”

Martin, Omaha, Neb., was the fourth and final speaker of the 2012-13 academic year for the Wake Up with Washburn breakfast lecture series sponsored by the Alumni Association and School of Business.

On Thursday, the former football player and member of Sagamore discussed health care reform and its impact during his presentation, “New Health Care Business Models and Opportunities Arising from Health Care Reform.”

Martin, who also holds a master of arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is a longtime health care executive. He has worked in management roles at American HomeCare, the Upjohn Company, HealthCheck Inc. and the Menninger Foundation.

Before serving as president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, he was the founding president and CEO for Prime Therapeutics, a comprehensive pharmacy benefits solutions company.

Before embarking on a career in health care, Martin shined on the football field as a member of the 1976 and 1977 teams, which had a combined record of 12-7-1. The 1976 team played in the Boot Hill Bowl, losing 29-14 to Benedictine.

“I give the excuse that really is inexcusable … we were all sick in that game,” Martin said. “I tell people we were in the salmonella line at the banquet.

“Merle (Blair, the emcee for Wake Up with Washburn) was the voice of the Ichabods, and people would recognize me because he’d say, ‘Taylor would have gone all the way if Martin had blocked his man.’”

Martin has been a Washburn University Foundation trustee since 2007. He serves the community in multiple capacities, including being a board member of the American Medical Association Foundation, Children’s Scholarship Fund, Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, Lauritzen Gardens, Nebraskaland Foundation, Strategic Command Consultation Committee and Durham Museum.

The first three speakers of the Wake Up season were Martin’s former teammate, retired Col. Clarence Taylor, bba ’78; Ron Whitten, jd ’77; and Marsha (Ticehurst) Oliver, bba ’74.

Taylor is the owner and operator of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at Oak Park Plaza in Overland Park, Kan.; Whitten is the architecture senior editor for Golf Digest; and Oliver is the vice president of marketing and a shareholder at Mize Houser and Company P.A.

More on Martin

Read Ernie W. Webb III's blog about Steve Martin and his ground-breaking work.