Maryville College President Dr. Gerald W. Gibson announced to the faculty, staff and students Monday morning that he would be retiring from the post at the conclusion of the 2009-2010 academic year.
“Dr. Dan Ellis, chair of the Board (of Directors), and I began discussing a year and a half ago the optimal timing for a new president to pick up the reins, and we believe that the next year should provide ample opportunity for a proper search,” Gibson wrote in a memo to the campus community.
Gibson, who previously served as vice president and dean at Roanoke College in Virginia, was inaugurated Maryville College’s 10th president in October of 1993. Ellis, speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors, thanked Gibson for his “years of transformative leadership” at the college.
“During President Gibson’s tenure, Maryville College completed two major campaigns and is about to complete a third, crowned by the dramatic rise of the Clayton Center for the Arts,” Ellis said. “The college also constructed six new buildings and renovated 12 others. He raised faculty and staff salaries to a competitive level, appointed outstanding new faculty, increased the size and academic quality of the student body, and elevated the stature of the college to the highest level in its long history.
“The Board of Directors regrets but understands President Gibson’s decision to retire and is grateful for his providing a year’s notice to facilitate a smooth transition in leadership,” Ellis added.
The announcement follows a busy week for the college with a meeting of the board of directors and a community-wide ceremony that included naming and topping off the $47 million arts center. The center will be called Clayton Center for the Arts.
Ellis said discussions regarding the search for Maryville College’s 11th president are underway. A search committee, representing all of the various constituencies of the college, will be named in the coming months.
A presidency of progress
Gibson is credited for leading the college into its current state of historic strength and instituting a model of visioning and planning for progress, according to a college press release. During Gibson’s tenure, Maryville 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. In recognition of Gibson and wife Rachel’s outstanding service to the college, a new residence hall completed last year was dedicated the Gerald W. and Rachel P. Gibson Residence Hall during Homecoming 2008 festivities.
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, has raised $76 million of an $83-million goal. Included in the campaign is fundraising for the $47-million Clayton Center for the Arts, which is expected to open to the public in Spring 2010.
Gibson grateful for time at MC
“In December of 1992, I saw the Maryville College campus for the first time. Since that visit, this has come to feel like home,” Gibson wrote in Monday’s memo. “Being selected by the Board of Directors to lead this fine old institution was the greatest compliment I have ever been paid, and serving here has been the high point of a long career.
“What I discovered in this place was something I didn’t believe existed: a true academic community, made strong by a set of prized values, and by a level of trust and collegiality and mutual support beyond anything I had ever experienced. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have become part of such a community, and to share in so many years of progress, made possible by a commitment to the common good.”
He concluded the memo by reminding the campus community of work remaining.
“There will be time later for more formal words, but for now I express my gratitude to the Board and to the citizens of this campus for the experience of these past 15 years, and ask that we work together in the year ahead to achieve ever greater distinction for Maryville College,” he wrote