JAMES WADE GILLEY - FIFTEENTH PRESIDENT, 199-1999
James Wade Gilley assumed the office of the president on August 1, 1991, becoming the Universityís fifteenth president. The student newspaper noted that of all the candidates he "was not the favorite among campus groups," but when asked why he thought he had been chosen, Gilley responded that "he was academically stronger than any other candidate," having been a successful college president and had written several books on education. Although he struggled in his rapport with the faculty throughout his tenure, he had a successful presidency in many ways. In 1994 the University awarded its first Ph.D. degree. During his tenure he saw an expenditure of $250 million on campus renewal, with the erection of such buildings, as the Edwards Football Stadium (1991), the Edwards Performing Arts Center (1992), and the Marshall University Medical Center adjacent to the Cabell Huntington Hospital (1998). In 1997 West Virginia Graduate College merged with Marshall University, becoming the Marshall University Graduate College. One of his proudest acts was the dedication in October 1998 of the John D. Drinko Library and concurrently the dedication of the John Marshall statute, the most prominent landmark on the present campus. He was also known as "winning-est president in college football through the 1990s," because of the Thundering Herdís prowess on the field, in which it won its first bowl game in 1998. Gilley left the University after eight years on July 31, 1999, to accept another college presidency.
James Wade Gilley, the son of Woodrow Charles Gilley and Forest (Hill) Gilley, was born on August 15, 1938, in Fries, Virginia. He graduated from Fries High School in 1965, where he received eleven letters in football, basketball and baseball. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and received a B.S. in engineering in 1961, and a M.S. in 1963. He continued on as an associate professor at his alma mater from 1963 to 1966, while he earned his Ph.D. in 1966. In 1975 he obtained a Post-Doctoral Certificate in the Harvard Graduate School of Business.
After earning his doctorate he worked for a year as the assistant president and director of engineering at Bluefield State College, in Bluefield, West Virginia. In 1967 he was hired as the president of Wytheville Community College, at Wytheville, Virginia, where he remained until 1972. From 1972 to 1976 he was the president of J. Sergeant Reynolds College at Richmond, Virginia. In 1976 he returned to Bluefield State College as its president and reestablished it as an independent institution after its 1973 merger with Concord College was discontinued. He left in 1978 when Gov. John Dalton appointed him the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, serving until 1982. Between 1982 and 1991 he was the senior vice-president at George Mason University. From 1991 to 1999 he was the president of Marshall University. He became the president of the university of Tennessee at Knoxville from 1999 to 2001. Since 2001 he has been a senior partner in Strategic Initiatives, Herndon, Virginia, as well as co-owner of Reston-Dulles Properties L.L.C. in Reston, Virginia, where he presently resides.
In 1960 he met Nanna Beverly while a senior at Virginia Tech and they were married the following year. They had three children, one of whom died as a teenager. He is also an author, having written a number of books on education, as well novels and a childrenís book.
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