Bob Martin ’66

Bob Martin '66

One Course At A Time (OCAAT) is nearly 35 years old, thousands of Cornell alumni love it, and yet the block plan is a total abstraction for thousands more who graduated before it was adopted in 1978. Bob Martin ’66 got an up close and personal view last November.

Martin, a U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Wisconsin, spent a day with Cornell President Jonathan Brand as he taught his course, Nature, Functions, and Limits of Law. The judge delivered a guest lecture and afterward returned a verdict on his OCAAT experience: Too bad it didn’t exist when he was an undergrad in the ’60s.

“The students asked great questions,” he said. “They were very attentive. It was obvious to me they were getting a deep understanding of the law in a liberal arts setting.”

Bob and his wife, Ruth Haberman Martin ’66, who accompanied him on the visit, were not totally unfamiliar with the block plan. Both have remained well-steeped in education since leaving Cornell and one son went to Colorado College, which also uses the system.

Ruth, a Kappa Theta and Phi Beta Kappa as a history major, went on to an advanced degree from Northwestern and fell in love with high school teaching. She retired after 34 years in the Madison (Wis.) school district including 25 at James Madison High, where she chaired the history department and taught psychology.

Bob, a Gamma, football player, and political science major on the Hilltop, got his law degree from the University of Chicago. As an award-winning federal judge, he also has taught bankruptcy-related courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and served on the Federal Judicial Center School faculty, which trains new judges.

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