Gilbert to be invested as 37th president in Sept. 22 ceremony

Dr. Jerome A. “Jerry” Gilbert, the 37th president in the 179-year history of Marshall University, will be invested on Thursday, Sept. 22, in an outdoor ceremony slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. in the John Marshall Circle on the university’s Huntington campus. A reception will follow at the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall.

The ceremony and reception are free and open to the public. No tickets are needed.

An investiture is the formal installation of a university president and is customarily held during a new president’s first year in office. It is a practice dating back to the Middle Ages and today is an academic ceremony during which the new leader is “vested” with the official duties of the office. Members of Marshall’s faculty and board of governors, delegates from other colleges and universities, state and local dignitaries, and Marshall students, alumni and staff will be in attendance.

“The investiture signifies the changing of the guard and recognizes the strength and traditions of the institution,” said Gilbert. “I want it to be more about the office than it is about me personally. I am humbled to be the 37th president of Marshall and approach the investiture with great gratitude and humility.

“Members of my family will be here and that’s important to me because they have provided encouragement, love, support and life lessons that have guided me in my personal and professional life. There also will be friends and colleagues who have meant a great deal to me over the years. It will be a chance to say ‘thank you’ to many people, including members of the Marshall family, and an opportunity to look forward to the future of this amazing institution.”

With a nod to Gilbert’s love of music, the ceremony will feature several student music groups including the John Marshall Fife and Drum Corps, Jazz Ensemble, Wind Symphony and Chamber Choir. The program also will include a commissioned fanfare composed for the occasion by Dr. Mark Zanter, coordinator of music theory/composition, and performed by a brass quintet. A series of colorful banners produced by art and design students will surround the John Marshall Circle.

The ceremony will begin with a faculty marshal bearing the Grand Mace leading a formal procession of academic representatives up John Marshall Drive. Immediate Past Interim President Gary White will welcome the guests and say a few words about his successor before the Marshall University Army ROTC Thundering Herd Battalion Color Guard presents the colors and music education student Christa Navy sings the national anthem.

Following an interfaith invocation by Rev. Jacque Parlato, pastor of Huntington’s Central Christian Church, and introductions by Marshall University Foundation Board Member Bernie Coston, Gilbert will receive congratulatory greetings from a number of officials, including Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts Kay Goodwin, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Paul Hill, Marshall University Board of Governors Chairman Wyatt Scaggs, Student Government Association President Matt Jarvis, Faculty Senate Chair Paige Muellerleile, Classified Staff Council Representative Miriah Young and Alumni Association Vice President Steven Wellman.

During the proceedings, brief reflections will be provided by two of Gilbert’s mentors, Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum and Dr. William Fox, dean emeritus of Mississippi State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Hill will confer the oath of office. After the oath, Gilbert will receive an official symbol of authority, the President’s Medallion, from Scaggs and will give his investiture address. The ceremony will close with the singing of the Marshall University Alma Mater and benedictions from students of three faiths.

The event will be livestreamed at for alumni, parents and friends of the university unable to attend in person. Sons and daughters of Marshall all over the world are encouraged to wear kelly green on Sept. 22 to show their pride and to share photos on social media using #MarshalluFamily.

In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse. Complimentary parking for the investiture ceremony will be available in the university’s Sixth Avenue Parking Facility.

Related Events

Gilbert’s priorities since becoming president have included raising the profile of Marshall’s academic programs, faculty and students, as well as highlighting the institution’s rich history and traditions. With that in mind, the university community chose to extend the month-long investiture celebration beyond the traditional ceremony and reception to involve the university and Huntington communities in public events ranging from theatrical and musical performances to the annual Constitution Week festivities and commemoration of the birthday of U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall.

Some of the month’s highlights will include:

September 9

  • Robert C. Byrd Forum on Civic Responsibility featuring guest lecturer Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, Joan C. Edwards Playhouse, 2:30 p.m.
    Sponsored by John Deaver Drinko Academy
  • DaVinci Lecture Series with Guest Speaker Journalist/Author Lev Grossman, Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall, 7 p.m.
    Sponsored by Office of the Provost, Honors College and Phi Kappa Phi

September 14

  • Water Festival, Buskirk Field, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
    Sponsored by College of Science
  • Performance by Oboist Geoffrey Burgess and Harpsichordist Leon Schelhase, Smith Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m.
    Sponsored by College of Arts and Media

September 15

  • “Leading in Adversity” with Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Corbly Hall 105, 11 a.m.
    Sponsored by College of Business

September 19

  • Faculty Discussion: “Whose Sex Is It? Sex, Power and Politics,” The Cellar Door, 905 3rd Ave., 7-9 p.m.
    Sponsored by College of Liberal Arts

September 20

  • West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Session, Joan C. Edwards Playhouse, 10 a.m.
    Sponsored by John Deaver Drinko Academy

September 21

  • Health and Wellness Fair, Memorial Student Center Plaza, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
    Sponsored by College of Health Professions
  • Campus Conversation – “Civil Discourse,” Shawkey Dining Room, Memorial Student Center, 6-7:30 p.m.
    Sponsored by Office of Academic Affairs

September 22

  • Investiture Ceremony, John Marshall Circle, 10:30 a.m.

September 23

  • John Marshall Birthday Cake and Kettle Corn, Buskirk Field, 11 a.m.
    Sponsored by John Deaver Drinko Academy
  • President’s Media Quoits Challenge, Buskirk Field, 11:30 a.m.
    Sponsored by John Deaver Drinko Academy
  • “Marshall Downtown” and Faculty Exhibition Closing Reception, Visual Arts Center, 5-7 p.m.
    Sponsored by College of Arts and Media

September 29

  • Production of “Picnic” by William Inge, Francis-Booth Experimental Theatre, Joan C. Edwards Playhouse, 7:30 p.m.
    Sponsored by College of Arts and Media

More information about the investiture ceremony and the full schedule of related events is available at

Public Service

In keeping with another of Gilbert’s priorities—a commitment to service—one of the keystones of the investiture celebration will be “Thundering Serve,” a series of community service projects conducted in and around Huntington by Marshall students, faculty and staff.

Sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs, Thundering Serve will kick off on Friday, Sept. 16, at 4 p.m. on the Memorial Student Center Plaza. Service projects will continue until 8 p.m. and will resume the next morning, Saturday, Sept. 17, from 8-10 a.m.

Participating organizations include Habitat for Humanity, City of Huntington, Facing Hunger Foodbank, Huntington Museum of Art, Harmony House, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, Huntington Parks and Recreation District, Ronald McDonald House, Litter Gitters and Huntington in Bloom.

About President Gilbert

A Mississippi native with a background in biomedical engineering, Gilbert was named Marshall’s president on Oct. 20, 2015. He assumed the office in January.

Prior to his appointment at Marshall, he served for nearly six years as provost and executive vice president of Mississippi State University. Before that, he was the university’s associate provost and associate vice president for academic affairs for six years. Earlier roles include head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and coordinator for the biomedical engineering graduate program in the Bagley College of Engineering.

Gilbert attained the rank of professor in 1993 after joining the Mississippi State faculty in 1988 as associate professor. From 1989-2005, he also served as adjunct clinical assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery (research) for the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He served for 10 years as a research affiliate with the Institute of Neurocognitive Science and Technology at Mississippi State, and was among the first class of Mississippi State’s honors faculty in the Shackouls Honors College.

He was a graduate assistant at Duke University and held previous academic appointments at North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) School of Medicine.

In 2014, he was elected to the inaugural board of directors of the Association of Chief Academic Officers. A member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, he also was inducted in the inaugural class of Fellows of the Institute of Biological Engineering, an organization for which he served as president in 2005.

He has a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering from Mississippi State and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Duke.

Gilbert and his wife Leigh are the parents of three grown children, Caroline, Sallie and Peter. They have one granddaughter, Eliza.