January 18, 2011 — George Gilliam will step down in June from his duties as the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs' assistant director for public programs and chair of the forum program, which he has headed since 2004.
Gilliam then will become the center's Senior Fellow for National Engagement, and focus on research, writing and special programming, the center announced on Monday. He will also continue to teach history in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences.
Since the Miller Center's founding in 1975, the forum program has served as a cornerstone of its work and public outreach. Under Gilliam's tenure as chair, the forum has gained a national TV audience on PBS. The center's National Discussion and Debate Series, in partnership with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, has also gained a national audience, and broadcast TV has become important for many facets of the center's work and programmatic areas.
The Miller Center will conduct a national review and search for production and hosting of the forum program following this academic year. Taylor Reveley, the center's associate director, will lead this process, along with Kristy Schantz, the center's assistant director for communications and marketing, who is the former executive producer of CNN's "Crossfire," and Brian Balogh, the chair of the center's National Fellowship Program and co-host of the nationally syndicated public radio program "Backstory."
Former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director of the Miller Center, said, "George has been a good friend since our early days together in law school and government work. In our time together here, the forum program in particular has advanced tremendously on the national stage, bringing the work of the Miller Center – civility and substance on issues of national importance – to television audiences across the country.
"The entire Miller Center community is deeply thankful to George, and going forward I know that the forum program, beloved locally and increasingly nationally, will move from strength to strength."
Gilliam joined the Miller Center in 2003 to develop special programming and work with Director Emeritus Kenneth W. Thompson on the forum program, which Thompson had hosted for more than two decades. In that first year, Gilliam organized a particularly relevant panel discussion: "Civil Liberties in Times of Stress: The American Patriot Act, Its Precedents, and Their Consequences" with legal experts and policymakers including Kenneth Starr, John Yoo and U.Va. law professor and historian Charles McCurdy.
The following year, upon Thompson's retirement, Gilliam formally became head of the forum program, and in 2006 he also was named the center's assistant director for public programs.
Under Gilliam, the forum program every year has featured more than 50 leading public officials, journalists, and scholars, such as former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger; former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine; current and former U.S. senators Lamar Alexander, Mark Warner and Ted Kennedy; Ambassador Ryan Crocker; General John Abizaid; and public figures Anne-Marie Slaughter, Evan Thomas, David Broder, Cokie Roberts, Daniel Schorr, David Brooks, Francis Fukuyama, Ed Gillespie, Douglas Feith, Kenneth Feinberg and Susan Eisenhower.
In 2006, Gilliam worked with others at the Miller Center to establish a partnership with Harrisonburg station WVPT to begin airing Miller Center Forums on PBS affiliates, including stations in Charlottesville, Richmond, Norfolk and Roanoke.
With this momentum, the Miller Center raised funds to upgrade its own audio and video capabilities, which in turn have allowed the Forum Program to achieve a national reach on PBS. New cameras, a new sound system, and studio lighting were installed in 2007 and 2008, and the Miller Center began producing 45 hourlong television programs each year meeting the technical requirements for national broadcast.
The Forum Program continues to grow today, and what started as a regional public affairs speaker series for community residents has become a national public affairs television program now shown weekly on more than 100 PBS stations, from New York City to Anchorage, Alaska and nearly every major metropolitan area in between.
"It is an honor to work at the Miller Center, and it has been a particular honor and delight to lead the forum program, as well as to help create and drive the National Discussion and Debate Series with Jerry Baliles and our partner MacNeil/Lehrer Productions," Gilliam said. "The Miller Center enjoys extraordinarily talented faculty and staff, and I look forward to the work ahead, both through the summer and beyond.
"It will also be a delight to give focused attention to my own writing and scholarship and to assist in the transition for the Forum Program."
Prior to joining the Miller Center, Gilliam was an attorney in private practice in Charlottesville for more than 25 years before returning to graduate school at U.Va. to study history. Long active in governmental and political affairs, he was the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in 1974 from Virginia's Seventh Congressional District, and was a member of the Charlottesville City Council from 1972 to 1976. He served as Virginia State Chairman of the Carter/Mondale presidential campaign in 1980. He served two terms as chairman of the State Board for Community Colleges (the governing body for Virginia's 23 community colleges), appointed by Gov. Charles S. Robb in 1982 and reappointed by Baliles in 1986. He served as a commissioner of the Education Commission of the States from 1986 to 1994. From 1989 to 1993, he served as chairman of the Pesticide Control Board, a regulatory board created by the Virginia General Assembly. Gilliam was also a member of the board of directors and executive committee of Central Fidelity National Bank from 1979 to 1998 and chairman of the board of directors of Southern Title Insurance Corporation from 1978 to 1983.
He is the author of "Business Entities – A Virginia Law Practice System" and, with photographer Mark Meyer, of "Racin'," the story of NASCAR stock car racing.