An agreement to serve as the interim executive director for a few months quickly evolved into a permanent position Jerry Gwaltney held for over four years at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. Gwaltney has lead the Institute since April 2013 and will retire July 31, 2017.
Gwaltney’s service to the region via the Institute could be considered an opportunity of fate considering Gwaltney was Danville’s City Manager when the Institute was founded. One of the first challenges facing Gwaltney as Danville’s City Manager was to recover from the loss of thousands of jobs when Dan River Mills closed its operation. When Gwaltney took over the helm at the Institute, there were many challenges facing the institution, with an immediate need for the Institute to redefine itself to best serve the region; to create jobs. Gwaltney intimately understood the negative effects of jobs lost in Danville and Southern Virginia and his leadership at the Institute came at a pivotal time for Southern Virginia.
“When I came on board, one of the first things we did as an organization was to review the Code of Virginia and with a laser-like focus redefine our mission,” said Gwaltney.
Under Gwaltney’s leadership, the Institute refocused on the economic transformation of Southern Virginia in the areas of applied research, advanced learning, and workforce development. A few successes under Gwaltney’s leadership include:
- Active research projects in the areas of advanced materials, plant science, precision agriculture, and chemistry taking place throughout the region and the Commonwealth for growers, entrepreneurs, and industry.
- A new addition to the Institute’s capacity to deliver high quality learning opportunities via a 45-foot bus, the Inspiration Lab. The Inspiration Lab alleviates the potential economic burden for rural schools to offer state-of-the-art technology and 3D printing opportunities to students of all ages.
- The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) continues to serve the economic development efforts of the region and in FY 2016 was instrumental in $14.9 million in new economic development opportunities and over 200 new jobs.
- A partnership with Danville Community College, the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining (Capstone) program, is beginning its third year on the campus of IALR and has resulted in two economic development announcements (Overfinch and SGS Kyocera Tech Hub LLC).
Gwaltney’s commitment to job creation is evident by the Institute’s successful leadership in Southern Virginia and the Commonwealth.
“I firmly believe that through our efforts, we have positioned the Institute as a prime force in the region and solidified it for the future,” said Gwaltney.
“Jerry stepped in and provided leadership and strategic direction during a pivotal time at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. He connected the dots between our charter from the state legislature, our mission, and the needs of this community. He helped oversee the development of programs that are not only assets in our economic development toolkit, but provide outstanding opportunities for our region’s residents. He has earned this much deserved second retirement and I wish him well as he spends more time with his family,” said IALR Board of Trustees Chairman Don Merricks.
“I have enjoyed the associations that I have made, the many new things that I have learned, and the many accomplishments that we have all achieved working together,” said Gwaltney.
The Board of Trustees appointed IALR’s Director of Research, Mark Gignac, to serve as the Interim Executive Director effective August 1, 2017. The Board also appointed a search committee to begin the Institute’s search for a new director.
Governor Terry McAuliffe joins Jerry Gwaltney for the recent unveiling of the Institute’s Inspiration Lab.
US Senator Mark Warner tours the Institute and the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining in November 2015. The Gene Haas Center is a partnership between the Institute and Danville Community College.
Jerry Gwaltney congratulates the 2017 graduates of the Academy for Engineering and Technology at their breakfast in May.
US Senator Tim Kaine joins Gwaltney for a tour of the Institute’s campus in April 2017.