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Eric R. Mart posing with other CAA directors. Eric R. Mart ’70 (left) served as president of the Cal Alumni Association Board of Directors. / Katherine Fiordalis / Cal Alumni Association

Remembering Eric R. Mart ’70, 1948–2023

“A great Californian, and a great Cal Golden Bear”

August 9, 2023

Eric Richard Mart ’70 came to Cal in 1966 to pursue a degree in anthropology. He was a tireless and loyal advocate for our state, our university, and our alumni community, and he will forever be remembered by his fellow Golden Bears.

Eric R. Mart headshot.
Eric R. Mart ’70 / Courtesy of Eric R. Mart

At Cal, Mart joined the University of California Marching Band, becoming its drum major his senior year. Members of the student-run Cal Band do not receive academic credit or financial gain for the thousands of hours they devote to the campus community, and the drum major is certainly no exception. Mart spent hours planning performances and co-leading the band’s Executive Committee.

Mart remained committed to the band after graduation as well. In 1970, he helped organize, fundraise for, and lead the Cal Band’s first Japan Tour—a trip he would later say “changed the dimension of how I looked at myself and the world.” It would also provide a once-in-a-lifetime performance experience for the band and exposure on an international stage.

Mart performing as drum major in the University of California Marching Band during his time as a student.
Mart performed as drum major in the University of California Marching Band during his time as a student. / Courtesy of Eric R. Mart

In 1976, Mart formed the Alumni Band Council with a few classmates, establishing the first group to officially organize all Cal Band alumni. In 1981, Mart co-founded the Cal Band Alumni Association (CBAA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and chartered Cal Alumni Association (CAA) Alumni Chapter that continues to this day. 

Mart served as President of the CBAA board for five years and as drum major of the alumni band for 25 years. During his tenure as drum major, he planned and organized many performances including the annual Alumni Band Day, helping ensure this beloved tradition was preserved for the enjoyment of Golden Bears year after year.

His concern regarding UC’s funding crisis drew him to join the CAA Board of Directors, where he served as president from 2017 to 2019. During his tenure, the CAA Board launched the Alumni Engagement Expansion initiative, investing in CAA programs and services to better serve the Cal alumni and student communities. Mart subsequently served as the UC Alumni Regent from 2019 to 2021. He was also the UC Berkeley Foundation Ex Officio Trustee from 2017 to 2021.

Mart (second from left) and other past presidents of the CAA Board of Directors assemble at a 2018 reunion.
Mart (second from left) and other past presidents of the CAA Board of Directors assemble at a 2018 reunion. / Katherine Fiordalis / Cal Alumni Association

Mart’s leadership left lasting impressions on his fellow leaders. “What the CAA and the campus, and later the university, got from Eric’s leadership was much more than any thoughts I shared with him,” says Nadesan Permaul ’72, ’73, ’90, CAA President 2003–2005. “Eric was a gentle, thoughtful, and strategic leader who listened to others and never imposed or acted precipitously. I respected and admired him, and will miss his friendship.”

CAA Board Vice President Demetrios Boutris ’83 remembers Mart as “a great Californian, and a great Cal Golden Bear. His contributions to Cal, to our State, to the outdoors and environmental communities, and to the business community were significant, positive, and most welcomed by all he came in contact with. Eric was a leader from his undergraduate years both in the classroom and in the Cal Band, and continued leading many Cal institutions. Eric was tireless and personally mentored, supported, and cheered on countless people. We celebrate Eric’s life as a Cal Golden Bear, as a leader, as a mentor, and as a great friend. With sympathy and condolences to Eric’s beloved family. May Eric’s memory be eternal.”

In March 2023, Chancellor Carol Christ awarded the Chancellor’s Citation to Mart in recognition of his life’s achievements and service. The award commends Mart “for his volunteer leadership, his invaluable contributions to the Cal community, and his efforts to sustain the rhythm of Berkeley’s excellence.”

Learn more about the Cal Band Alumni Association.

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