Martin Lancaster (born March 24, 1943) is the current Chair of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges and was a United States Representative from North Carolina, 1987-1995.
Lancaster was raised on a tobacco farm in rural Eastern North Carolina and spent his childhood working in the fields; he went to the small local school and participated in local church youth activities. In 1957, he served as a Page in the North Carolina House of Representatives and in 1959, as Chief Page.
In 1961, he went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and entered the law school at UNC after his junior year in college as a Law Alumni Scholar, graduating in 1967.
After graduating, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving on active duty for three years, eighteen months of which were spent on the USS Hancock (CV-19) off the coast of Vietnam.
After his military service he returned to North Carolina and set up a law practice with a college classmate. In 1977 the Governor appointed him Chairman of the North Carolina Arts Council, a position he held for four years. This led to elective office, first to the North Carolina House of Representatives and ultimately to the U.S. Congress.
In Congress, he served on the Armed Services, Small Business, Agriculture, and Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committees. His major committee was Armed Services. Lancaster also represented the House for six years at the Chemical Weapons Convention negotiations in Geneva.
After being defeated in the Republican sweep of North Carolina and the country in 1994, Lancaster worked briefly for Governor Jim Hunt handling federal issues. The President then asked that he assist him with the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which he accepted. In the fall of 1995, the president nominated Lancaster to become Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, a position for which the U.S. Senate confirmed him in January of 1996. In this capacity, Lancaster was primarily responsible for policy development and advocacy for the Army Corps of Engineers before the Office of Management and Budget, the White House, and the Congress.
In 1997, Martin Lancaster was chosen President of the North Carolina Community College System. In 2003 he was elected Chair of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges.