New Student Services Building Named for Larry and Susan Martindale
"I liked the fact that it was a small, close-knit school with a great reputation and a presence in the Southeastern Conference,” the Grand Junction, Tenn., native recalled. “What I remember the most are the lasting, genuine relationships. When I think of Ole Miss, I think if its people.
“When I left the campus, Ole Miss had instilled enough confidence in me that I believed I could accomplish anything,” said Martindale, a 25-year partner in W.B. Johnson Properties Inc. “Ole Miss was the launching pad of my career.”
W.B. Johnson Properties, a development company based in Atlanta, founded the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and owns and operates the largest Waffle House franchise in the United States. Prior to founding the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., W.B. Johnson Properties owned and operated franchises in Holiday Inn and Marriot hotels.
Because of the continuing support that Larry and his wife, Susan, have provided to academic and athletic programs, the Old Gym was named in their honor Oct. 30, with ceremonies that included a reception and open house. After a recent, complete renovation, the Old Gym is the new Martindale Student Services Center.
The entrance to the Martindale Student Services Center features a three-story atrium with skylights and a massive staircase. The height of the original gym allowed architects to add a third floor. With the addition of a one-story mechanical room, the building boasts 66,000 square feet. The new entrance to the building is located on the south side facing the Turner Center. The renovation was made possible by $7 million in state funds.
The Martindale Student Services Center will provide Ole Miss students easy, convenient access to a wide variety of services, including Undergraduate Admissions, Orientation, Registrar, Financial Aid, Accounting and Bursar Offices. The Career Center also will be located in Martindale.
While the Lyceum is undergoing an $11 million restoration, the Martindale Center will provide office space for the University administration, including the Chancellor’s and Provost’s offices. After the approximate two-year Lyceum project is complete, Martindale will add the Counseling Center, Dean of Students Office and International Programs.
“Our students have busy schedules with multiple demands on their time,” said Dr. Richard Mullendore, vice chancellor for Student Life. “Many students juggle full academic schedules, part-time jobs and leadership roles in student organizations. Martindale Center will be student-friendly, allowing students to ‘take care of business’ in an efficient manner. No longer will students have to go from building to building to handle financial matters. Everyone will be in the same building, along with other student services offices.
“Staff will benefit from the Martindale Center, too,” Mullendore continued. “With so many offices in one building, communication and cooperation between departments will be easier and should lead to even better service to students.”
Chancellor Robert C. Khayat said, “Larry and Susan’s very generous gifts to Ole Miss have enabled us to strengthen our academic programs and dramatically enhance the teaching and learning environment. It is most appropriate that the gymnasium where Larry played basketball as a student-athlete bear the Martindale name, honoring this loyal, caring family.”
“Of all the buildings on campus, the Old Gym has the greatest meaning to me,” Martindale reflected. “I have a history with that building. Even if it only seated 2,500 fans, it was my Madison Square Garden.”
Eddie Crawford, senior athletic director at Ole Miss and former basketball coach, has been one of the Ole Miss friends who have kept in touch with Martindale over the years. “Larry was one of the hardest working athletes with whom I have ever worked,” Crawford recalled. “Larry had a great desire to win and accomplish goals, and he took those characteristics into his professional life. He is a successful businessman and a wonderful person, and we greatly appreciate what he and Susan have done for The University of Mississippi.”
Larry and Susan Martindale now live in Atlanta and have two children: Lauren, 16, and Bryan, 14.