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

KNOXVILLE — Dr. J. Wade Gilley will be installed formally as the University of Tennessee’s 20th president Nov. 5.

Gov. Don Sundquist, who also is chairman of the UT Board of Trustees, will administer the oath. Ceremonies begin with a pre-inaugural concert at 1:30 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena.

The inauguration is scheduled for 2 p.m. The concert, inauguration and a reception at 4 p.m. in the arena are all free and open to the public.

Gilley took office as UT President Aug. 1, succeeding Dr. Joseph E. Johnson. He came to UT from Marshall University where he served as president for eight years.

Dr. James M. Buchanan, who received the Nobel Prize for economics in 1986, will give the pre-inaugural lecture at 11 a.m. in the University Center Auditorium. Buchanan, who earned the master’s degree in economics from UT in 1941, is the Harris University Professor at George Mason University, where Gilley was senior vice president from 1982 to 1991.

The inauguration will be UT’s first since Dr. Andrew D. Holt was installed as the university’s 16th chief executive in 1960.

Sammie Lynn Puett, the UT vice president who is chair of the Inauguration Steering Committee, said the investiture of college and university presidents is a long-held academic tradition.

“President Gilley’s inauguration is a very symbolic event,” said Puett, vice president for public service, continuing education and university relations.

“It is a public statement of the president’s commitment to lead the institution in scholarly pursuits, in the quest for new knowledge through research, and in service to the state, the nation and the world.”

Gilley is a native of Fries, Va. Prior to his appointment at George Mason in 1982 he was secretary of education for the State of Virginia. He also served as president of Bluefield State College in West Virginia.

Under Gilley’s leadership at Marshall, 17 new academic programs in science and technology were added, and the school invested $231 million in capital improvements. Faculty salaries increased 35 percent.

Concurrent with his administrative appointments, Gilley has taught classes in environmental engineering and in higher education at Marshall and at George Mason. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, and West Virginia University.

Gilley is a member of the executive committee of the Education Commission of the States and a board member of the Business-Higher Education Forum, a consortium of 40 chief executive officers from businesses and universities. He chaired West Virginia’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Mountain Top Removal in 1998, and he is a former board member of the Southern Regional Education Board and a former commissioner of the Southern Baptist Education Commission.

His books on higher education are regarded highly, and two have been translated into foreign languages, “The Interactive University” into Chinese and “Searching for Academic Excellence” into Japanese. His scholarly articles have appeared in journals such as Academe, Bioengineering and Biotechnology, AGB Reports, Change, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Chronicle of Higher Education have published his articles.

He earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in civil and environmental engineering from Virginia Tech, and he did postdoctoral work in education and management at the University of Florida and the Harvard Graduate School.

Gilley and his wife, Nanna, are the parents of two children–Cheryl Rice, an attorney in Reston, Va., and Wade Jr., an environmental engineer in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Gilley holds degrees from Radford University, Virginia Tech, and Averett College.