Spending over 60 years in the Grambling community, Martha Viola Pierce is a long time Gramblinite. Pierce began her career at Grambling State University in 1951, then called Grambling College, under the leadership of second president Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones.
Jones, better known as “Prez”, hired Pierce just three years after graduating high school.
While an employee at Grambling College, Pierce served as the president’s secretary, personnel director and payroll clerk. Serving multiple roles was not uncommon, due to the size of the university and she says that faculty and staff took pride in their work.
“There was only a few people here, about 200 people,” said Pierce. “We worked on weekends without any extra pay.”
Pierce says that staff and faculty knew that they were here for the students and would sometimes work on Christmas Eve to complete college business.
A native of Monroe, Pierce would take the thirty-minute drive back and forth to campus not only to work, but also finish her degree. Pierce obtained her bachelor’s degree in education in 1964 and went on to continue her education at rival school Southern University, receiving her master’s of education.
She accredits R.W.E. Jones for supporting her educational advances and being more than a reasonable president.
“President Jones allowed me to go to class to get my B.S,” said Pierce. “Our president was such a down to earth person. You could go and talk to him. He was always trying to help the employees.”
Pierce retired in December of 1980 as Grambling State University’s assistant financial aid officer, and since has spent her 32 year retirement by traveling. She will be celebrating her 88th birthday this year and was married for 58 years.
Pierce says she served Grambling for a higher purpose.
“When I do things, I want God to give me credit, not people,” said Pierce.