Gibson pens ‘Tenth Watch’ memoir; book launch set for Dec. 7
With the search for Maryville College’s 12th president underway, Dr. Gerald W. Gibson, president emeritus, is offering people a behind-the-scenes look at his tenure at the school with publication of his memoir, “Tenth Watch: Maryville College at the Millennium Mark.”
A book launch is scheduled for Sat., Dec. 7, at 2 p.m., at the Blount County Public Library. Cost of the book is $15, with all proceeds going to Blount County Friends of the Library (BCFOL).
In addition to book sales, the launch will include remarks from Dr. Susan Schneibel, chair of the Blount County Public Library Trustees and Maryville College professor emerita. Gibson will be on hand to speak about the memoir and offer insights into the time he served as the 10th president of the College.
“I am delighted that Dr. Gibson’s memoir is being launched at the Blount County Public Library,” said BCFOL Board Member Vandy Kemp, who served as the College’s vice president and dean of students during much of Gibson’s tenure. “As president of Maryville College, Dr. Gibson was keenly aware of the strong, historic relationship between the College and other educational entities in the community, including the library. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of both to the educational culture and heritage of Blount County. Moreover, in its 200-year history, Maryville College has only had 11 presidents, so the reflections of its 10th provide a notable backdrop to a significant time period.
“This memoir will be of interest to anyone connected to Maryville College – current and past staff and faculty, as well as alumni,” Kemp continued. “It will also be of interest to historians, as well as those in educational leadership, higher ed administration and organizational management.”
Gibson, a native of Spartanburg, S.C., came to Maryville College in 1993, having served previously as vice president and dean of Roanoke College in Salem, Va. A graduate of Wofford College and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, he started his career at the College of Charleston as a chemistry professor and served as chair of the chemistry department from 1968 until 1982, when he accepted the leadership position at Roanoke.
At Maryville, he immediately began work on improving the appearance of campus, increasing the endowment and striving to create “the best possible college.” Through two strategic plans, the MC2000 Plan and the Window of Opportunity Plan, the College achieved new records in enrollment, student quality, fundraising, endowment and numbers of full-time faculty and staff. He retired in 2010, after 17 years at the helm.
“Tenth Watch” is a personal, candid assessment of the successes and failures and triumphs and tragedies of his leadership and administration between 1993 and 2010. In its 26 chapters and 405 pages, the memoir shares up-close accounts and impacts of major on- and off-campus events, such as the Fayerweather Hall fire, the building of the Clayton Center for the Arts and the Great Recession of 2008. Three chapters are devoted to faculty and staff, students and alumni, and appendices list members of the Board of Directors, cabinet officers, physical plant projects and key institutional data from 1993 until 2010.
“Living through the 10th watch from 1993 through 2010, my first thought each morning was for ways to move Maryville a step further on its way to becoming ‘the best possible college,’ and as I went to bed each night, my thoughts were already racing ahead to the challenge and promise of the next day,” Gibson said.
Maryville College Professor Emeritus Dr. Dean Boldon penned the foreword. In it, Boldon, who served as vice president and dean of the College from 1986 until 1998, said it was written with a “keen sense of the history and mission of the College and the role in that history played by the founder and by several of the most noteworthy presidents.
“That approach adds a wealth of perspective on decisions, changes and innovations,” he explained. “Further depth of analysis arises from placing events at Maryville College in the context of historical and concurrent issues in the world of higher education. Very few read this memoir without learning a great deal about higher education in America, nor without gaining a much clearer perspective on the place of Maryville College therein.”
Gibson spent three years working on the project. In the prologue, the president emeritus explained that he wrote the memoir with the hope “that those on watch in future decades may be stimulated by our achievements and, yes, may learn from our mistakes as we labored to make Maryville ‘the best possible college.’”
Alumna and former registrar Martha Hess called Gibson a “quiet, thoughtful and creative leader” who gained her trust on the day of his first Convocation ceremony in 1993.
“He had been on campus less than two months, but strategic plans – from enrollment to maintenance – were forming in his mind on that hot, August morning,” she said. “On a personal note, he warmed my heart that day by his knowledge of the College’s 194-year history. For the next 17 years, he often sent me rushing to the history books and old files when he shared an interesting, historical tidbit found in some obscure place.
“There is no doubt that the great historians – Isaac Anderson and Samuel Tyndale Wilson – are pleased with the addition of ‘Tenth Watch’ to the Maryville College story.”
Gibson, wife Rachel and their three children all live in the East Tennessee area and will be in attendance at the book launch.
For more information or to reserve a copy of the memoir, visit tenthwatch.com.