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Monday, May 12, 2008

Malcolm Gillis – Travels The Road From Jackson County Schools to President of Rice University

This week one of our native sons has returned to Jackson County. Malcolm Gillis has lived a distinguished career in the world of collegiate teaching, college administration, and as a recognized, world class economist. However, his roots are deeply planted in the rich soil of Jackson County.
Malcolm Gillis was raised in Marianna. He is the son of Eva Mae Gillis who was a long-time nurse in Marianna. While in High School Malcolm played tackle on the championship football team, along with other local notables such as Johnny McDaniel, Jim Standland, Willie Whitehead, Wilton McRae, Bill McQuaigge and others. During the summer, on weekends they would often hunt rattlesnakes and turn them in for a $2.00 bounty at the County Jail.
Malcolm always had to work while going to school. He started working at the Farmers Trading Post hardware store for Aubrey and Bonnie Blanton when he was twelve or thirteen years old. While attending the University of Florida he worked at Baird Hardware in Gainesville. In school he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity along with Wayne Grant and several other Jackson County students.
He graduated in 1958 from Marianna High School, and then attended Chipola College where in 1960 the earned his AA degree. This was only the beginning for a distinguished academic career that was to earn him national and international acclaim. Jackson County can be proud that a product of our school systems and our local social environment has risen to a position of prominence in the field of higher education. He is certainly one of our local success stories.
Malcolm Gillis is married to the former Elizabeth Cifers of Chattanooga, Tennessee. They have two daughters, Nora and Heather, and a son named Stephen.
This week Malcolm Gillis returns home. He will deliver the primary commencement address at the Chipola College graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 1. The next morning, Dr. Gillis will be the program speaker at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast.
We welcome this most favored son back to Jackson County.
After graduating from Chipola Gillis entered the University of Florida where he earned his B.A. in 1962 and his Masters Degree in 1963. He then went even further with his educational development by earning a PHD from the University of Illinois in 1968.
He spent the first twenty five years of his career teaching economics and becoming involved in assisting in developing economic policies for governments in over twenty countries around the globe. He became internationally recognized as a leading world class economist.
He has authored or co-authored eight books in the field of economics. He has also written numerous widely published articles and essays in his field of expertise. He also serves on many private and government committees and boards. He served for eight years on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and currently chairs the Vietnam Education Foundation.
From 1986 to the present time Gillis has been involved in University Leadership. From 1986 to 1991 he was Dean of the Graduate School, Duke University, and vice provost, Academic Affairs. From 1991-1993 Gillis was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Duke University.
Gillis is also an Institute Fellow, Harvard Institute for Economic Development and Lecturer in Economics, Harvard University, 1974-1984. Malcolm Gillis next served the prestigious position of President, Rice University from 1993 through 2004. He is now University Professor and the Ervin Kenneth Zingler Professor of Economics at Rice University.
Jim Hart of Bascom who was formerly a top executive with Duke Energy in Houston, Texas recalls working with Malcolm Gillis on several civic projects, including the Greater Houston Partnership Program. "I worked with Dr. Gillis on numerous fund raising, charity projects and he always elevated the level of participation and results of the activities," stated Hart.
He and Elizabeth will be in Marianna this weekend, staying at the home of Wayne and Barbara Grant. He will be back the following weekend for the 50th class reunion for the Marianna graduating class of 1958. Welcome home Malcolm.

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