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KNOXVILLE–University of Tennessee President J. Wade Gilley has won national recognition for his contributions to diversity in U.S. higher education.

Black Issues in Higher Education has named Gilley as one of the most influential university presidents of the past 100 years.

“Dr. Gilley has constantly opened doors of opportunity to black students, faculty and staff,” said the magazine’s publisher, Frank Matthews, who also taught law at George Mason University during Gilley’s 1982-91 tenure there as senior vice president.

“At George Mason, I saw Dr. Gilley’s diversity efforts first hand and he personally demonstrated an unyielding commitment to fairness.”

Other academic leaders named include Derek Bok of Harvard University, John Casteen of the University of Virginia and Bill Kirwan of Ohio State University.

Gilley, who became UT’s 20th President in August, has been involved in equal rights issues since his days as a student at Virginia Tech, where he was a founding member of the American Indian College Fund.

As Virginia’s secretary of education from 1978-82, he played a major role in negotiating the state’s higher education desegregation plan, forming a strategy to benefit historically black colleges and desegregate traditionally white institutions.

Gilley’s accomplishments at Marshall University, where he was president from 1991 to 98, include appointing more minorities to top administrative positions, expanding diversity programs and activities, and increasing the number of black students, staff and faculty.

In 1994 Marshall earned the U.S. Labor Department’s award for excellence in affirmative action.

“Marshall made bold strides towards greater diversity under Dr. Gilley’s leadership,” said Dr. Betty Cleckley, Marshall vice president for multicultural affairs and former UT associate dean of social work.

Black Issues In Higher Education is a bi-weekly newsmagazine dedicated exclusively to minority issues in higher education.