MC’s new residence hall will honor Gibsons

The signs can be ordered now.

An announcement shared Tuesday with the Maryville College community by Board Chairman Dr. Dorsey D. “Dan” Ellis made the naming of the College’s newest residence hall official - it’s the Gerald W. and Rachel P. Gibson Residence Hall.

“I know that the entire campus will share the Board’s pride in recognizing in this way the great leadership provided by our 10th and current president and his wife, Rachel,” Ellis wrote in a memorandum.

A dedication ceremony is planned for 11 a.m., Oct. 18, during the College’s Homecoming Weekend.

Gibson, who began his 15th year at the institution in July, is credited for leading the College into its current state of historic strength, programmatically and fiscally, and instituting a model of visioning and planning for progress. Since 1993, the College’s enrollment has grown by roughly 55 percent, its endowment has more than tripled, and 22 full-time professors have been added to the faculty ranks.

During Gibson’s tenure, the College has been consistently ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in the Southeast, and its curriculum has been recognized by the John Templeton Foundation’s Honor Roll for Character Building Colleges and its “Colleges that Encourage Character Development” guide. In 2003, the College was named one of 12 “Founding Institutions” selected to participate in a national project known as the “Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year.” U.S. News & World Report included the College’s First-Year Experience in its “Programs to Look For” category in 2005.

Significant improvements have been made in student recruitment. Gains have been made in attracting students with strong academic backgrounds and clear aspirations to become citizen-leaders in their communities. Goals outlined in compensation plans for the majority of faculty and staff positions have been met or exceeded.

Also during Gibson’s tenure, buildings have been constructed and renovated, projects have improved its grounds, and numerous deferred maintenance issues have been addressed.

During the College’s $16-million MC2000 campaign, finished in 2000, the College’s Bartlett Hall was renovated and expanded for use as a student center, and the century-old Center for Campus Ministry was completely restored.

The College’s current fundraising initiative, the “Our Window of Opportunity” campaign, seeks to raise $83 million, which will go toward construction of a civic arts center, the exterior and interior renovation of Anderson Hall, growth of the College’s endowment and the ongoing support of the Maryville Fund, the College’s annual campaign for operating expenses.

Gerald Gibson is a native of South Carolina. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wofford College, where he graduated with high honors in 1959. His Ph.D. in organic chemistry was awarded by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, in 1963. He completed studies at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University in the summer of 1983, where he returned to do a writing residency in the summer of 1990 and 1998.

He is a member of the American Chemical Society and is active in the Appalachian Colleges Association, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Gibson currently serves on the boards of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

Rachel Plummer Gibson is a native of Montgomery County, Tenn. She holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the College of Charleston. She is a member of the executive board of the Hearing and Speech Foundation and a member of the Chilhowee Club.

The couple has three children and two grandchildren. They are active members of New Providence Presbyterian Church in Maryville.

Constituting the largest dollar commitment of the College’s Campus Improvement Plan, Gibson Hall was constructed at a cost of $8 million. Located within a few feet of the new Lloyd Hall (completed in 2003), Gibson mirrors the older residence hall in look and design.

Fronted by white columns, the four-story building has a brick façade and painted wooden trim. Gibson’s main entry faces U.S. Highway 321, while the back faces the main entry of Lloyd. The space between the two residence halls creates a courtyard that is expected to be a popular gathering place of residents.

Inside, nearly 53,000 square feet are arranged in suite-style, with rooms sharing living space and bathrooms. Twenty-five percent of the suites have kitchenettes.

Each floor has public spaces in kitchens and study areas.

Like Lloyd, the capacity for Gibson Hall is approximately 150 persons. It will operate under a wellness programming model, which means residents agree to abstain from tobacco and alcohol while living there.

Hoping to improve upon the Lloyd design and construction, though, some modifications were made to Gibson. Most notably, efforts were made to make it more sustainable. New features include: low-flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, compact fluorescent lights, thermal panes and dry-erase boards for communication (to discourage students from creating paper flyers to promote campus events, meetings, policies, etc). Additionally, the building is connected to the College’s energy-efficient steam plant.

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