Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Skip to main content

Dr. J. Wade Gilley, president of Marshall University in West Virginia, will become the University of Tennessee’s 20th president Aug. 1.

The UT board of trustees Friday unanimously elected the 60-year-old Marshall president to head the university’s statewide system of 42,700 students. He will succeed Dr. Joe Johnson who has announced he will retire when Gilley assumes the post.

Gilley did not attend the meeting because of a meeting with the trustees of the University System of West Virginia.

A search committee of eight members of the board Wednesday voted to recommend Gilley over two other candidates. They were Dr. James Walker, president of Middle Tennessee State University, and Dr. George Emert, president of Utah State University.

Knoxville trustee James Haslam, a member of the search committee, said UT had a good pool of candidates.

”All three were eminently qualified,” Haslam said. ”I am convinced we have a proven administrator with a great track record.

”I believe Wade Gilley has the experience and the will to make the tough decisions to lead us into the 21st Century.”

The board voted to give Bill Sansom, vice chairman of the trustees, the authority to negotiate a contract and salary with Gilley. It will mark the first time a UT president has had a formal contract, Sansom, who chaired the search committee, said.

Dr. Joe Johnson, UT president for the past eight years, told the trustees there would be a ”smooth transition” between presidents.

”Wade has the ability to move the university forward and make it better than it is today,” Johnson said.

Gilley became president of Marshall, in Huntington, W. Va., in 1991 after serving nine years as senior vice president at George Mason University in Virginia. From 1978-1982 he was secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

He earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering at Virginia Tech University. After finishing the doctorate, Gilley was a Kellogg Fellow at the Institute for Higher Education at the University of Florida.

He and his wife, Nan, have two grown children and a grandchild.