As the new vice-chancellor, Martin was taking Monash into a new era. The golden years of university funding that had characterised Matheson’s term were over. Martin’s challenge was to ensure Monash built on its strong reputation for excellence in leaner times. There was a push for universities to do more with less money. Martin wanted Monash to enhance its research credentials in order to secure outside support. He was optimistic about Monash’s potential to use its research strengths to secure funding in the business world. He felt Monash needed to start looking outwards.
Martin’s priorities paid off, and over the course of his ten-year term he watched the steady growth of evidence of Monash’s scientific and scholarly reputation. Increasing numbers of staff were accepted into learned academies. The university became a leader in medicine and law, with further strengths in Southeast Asian studies, chemistry, physics and computing. Income from research grants was up. Martin’s tenure brought a necessary stability to the university, which was about to enter a period of rapid expansion and competition.
After stepping down from his role as vice-chancellor in 1987, Martin returned to the research laboratory and continued to work as a professor of chemistry at Monash until 1991.