KNOXVILLE — Dr. J. Wade Gilley was formally installed Friday as the University of Tennessee’s 20th president in a ceremony at UT-Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena.
About 1,200 guests, including state officials, visitors from 70 other schools, and UT faculty, staff and students, attended UT’s first inauguration since Dr. Andrew D. Holt became the university’s 16th president in 1960.
Gilley took an oath of office, pledging to emphasize quality, information technology, financial responsibility and commitment to economic, social and cultural development of the state.
Goals Gilley cited to be used as benchmarks for measuring UT’s academic progress included improved graduation rates; boosting faculty and staff salaries; doubling federal research and development grants to $150 million per year; increased number of faculty who are members of national academies; tuition levels approximating those of national peers; and committing at least 3 percent of the university’s annual budget to information technology.
“Achieving these standards will elevate UT to the highest levels of public universities in America and help lift the Tennessee economy to new levels of competitiveness, and assure a better future for our children and grandchildren,” Gilley said in his inaugural address.
Gilley said the university plans to meet the goals through three new initiatives: a Tennessee Plan that generate $150 million from administrative cuts, fund-raising campaigns, and state appropriations; a future committee for long-term planning at UT; and a committee to cut UT administrative expenses by ten percent.
“Dr. Gilley has offered himself for leadership at a very critical hour in this university’s history,” said Gov. Don Sundquist, who chairs UT’s Board of Trustees and administered the presidential oath. “I know that he is up to that challenge.
“I hope that everyone here and across the state who loves the University of Tennessee will lend him their strength, encouragement and prayers.”
Many participants in Friday’s ceremony lauded Gilley for his accomplishments at Marshall, where he was president for eight years, and other universities.
“I know what Wade Gilley can do,” said Dr. James M. Buchanan, a UT alumnus and Nobel-prize winning economics professor at George Mason University, where Gilley was vice president from 1982 to 1991. “I have seen him accomplish things in the Virginia system that no one else could have accomplished.
“If you will just give him the support, he can put this university on the map. I feel like the University of Tennessee now can really go onward and upward.”