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Kilbride Inducted into TICUA Hall of Fame

Kilbride Inducted into TICUA Hall of Fame

TWU’s Kilbride Inducted into the Tennessee Private Colleges and Universities 4th Annual TICUA Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE, TENN. – The Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) is proud to announce its fourth class of Hall of Fame inductees, honoring Tennessee’s first female Speaker of the House, a civil rights pioneer who integrated SEC varsity basketball, a world-renowned opera singer, music and business executives, and many others.

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TICUA member institutions selected the 24 alumni, highlighting their contributions to our state, country, and world in a variety of disciplines. Tennessee’s Independent Colleges and Universities have helped shape some of our nation’s most distinguished and impressive citizens – from Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners to faith leaders, entrepreneurs, and elected officials.

“With each new class of the TICUA Hall of Fame, we discover even more of our alumni changing the world, some whose names we know and others we are just now becoming familiar with,” said TICUA President Dr. Claude Pressnell. “Each of the inductees demonstrates how valuable one’s college experience is to your life and the impact a liberal arts education has on molding your future.”

The 2023 class of inductees includes civic and faith leaders, music and business executives, and passionate philanthropic and humanitarian leaders, all from Tennessee private non-profit colleges and universities.


About TICUA: TICUA engages Tennessee’s private, non-profit colleges and universities to work collaboratively in areas of public policy, cost containment, and professional development to better serve the State and its citizens. TICUA membership includes 34 member institutions comprised of four-year colleges and universities and professional colleges. In fall 2021, TICUA member colleges and universities throughout the State enrolled more than 78,000 students and employed 21,000 faculty and staff. For more information about TICUA, please visit our website at

William Kilbride hall of fame graphic

William Kilbride
Tennessee Wesleyan College
B.S., Business Management | 1972

The woods and rivers of southeast Tennessee first lured native New Yorker Bill Kilbride to the South more than fifty years ago. At Tennessee Wesleyan University in Athens, Kilbride found a place where he could hunt, fish, and explore another part of the country.

After graduating from TWU in 1972, Kilbride briefly worked in Athens before returning home to New York City. There, he worked as a banker, then as the director of surveillance at the New York Stock Exchange, and eventually as an executive for Dean Witter Reynolds. His job at Dean Witter Reynolds took him to Chicago, where he met the woman who would become his wife. Kilbride’s career at Dean Witter Reynolds eventually led him back to Manhattan.

Kilbride worked for many years on the 74th floor of the World Trade Center until one day in 1992, when he received a phone call from one of his good friends, John Thornton. Thornton convinced Kilbride to serve as president and chief operating officer of Thornton’s company in Chattanooga, American Rug Craftsmen. Kilbride held that position less than two years before Mohawk Industries acquired the company. Kilbride was named president of the Mohawk Home division and later named the company’s chief sustainability officer. He retired from Mohawk in 2014.

Kilbride’s retirement was short-lived. He became president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce in 2014, a role he held until 2017. Under Kilbride’s leadership, the Chattanooga Chamber was recognized as the 2017 Chamber of the Year for midsize cities by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

In 2019, Kilbride was named chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), America’s biggest government utility which delivers power and promotes the economy for more than 10 million people in seven southern states.

Throughout his life and career, Kilbride has remained loyal to his first home in Tennessee, Tennessee Wesleyan University. In 2014, Bill and his wife, Mary, donated their 91.9 acre farm on the banks of the Tennessee River to TWU to be used as a living laboratory for students and faculty in the fields of botany, zoology, plant physiology, ecology, and other educational opportunities. The lab serves as an outdoor classroom for further historical study and as a place for spiritual retreat and renewal. Kilbride has served on the TWU Board of Trustees in addition to his work on the TVA board and appointments on other boards. TWU also recognized him as the school’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1999.

The TICUA Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductees are:

● Jewel Bell – King University
● Melvoid Benson – Lane College
● L.D. Campbell- Johnson University
● Autry O.V. “Pete” Debusk – Lincoln Memorial University
● Dr. Jeff Foster – Southern College of Optometry
● Dr. Thomas Garland – Tusculum University
● Rusty Gaston – Belmont University
● Dr. William Greer- Milligan University
● Dr. Beth Harwell – Lipscomb University
● Bob Jimenez – Southern Adventist University
● William Kilbride – Tennessee Wesleyan University
● Edward A. Labry III- Cumberland University
● Esmerelda Lee – Lee University
● James T. McAfee Jr. – Union University
● Dr. Betty Sue McGarvey – Baptist Health Sciences University
● Bill Morgan – Freed-Hardeman University
● Col. J. Christopher Murphy – Aquinas College
● Joel Rice – Bethel University
● Joe Bill Sloan – Carson-Newman University
● Dr. Morris Stocks – Trevecca Nazarene University
● Jerry Summers – The University of the South
● George Vogel – Bryan College
● Perry Wallace – Vanderbilt University
● Delores Ziegler – Maryville College

Read more about each inductee on the 2023 Hall of Fame website or in the 2023 Hall of Fame publication.