Warner Pacific University Mourns the Loss of the University’s Fourth President, Dr. E. Joe Gilliam

October 23, 2020

Portland, OR: E. Joe Gilliam Sr., fourth president of Warner Pacific University passed away on Oct 21, 2020.

Named as president in 1966, Dr. Joe, as he was known, served the university faithfully until 1979. A loyal Knights fan, it is appropriate that in the first year of his presidency the Warner Pacific Men’s Basketball team won the W.C.C.C Championship. Gilliam had a reputation for engaging thought leaders in the life of the university, including Senator Mark Hatfield, Dr. Elton Trueblood, and Representative Edith Green. Perhaps most notably, under Gilliam’s leadership President Gerald Ford delivered a commencement address to the university in May 1976.  Warner Pacific’s facilities on the Mt. Tabor campus grew significantly during his tenure as McGuire Auditorium, Egtvedt Hall, and Gotham Hall were built during his presidency. Additionally, Gilliam secured several sizable estate gifts that benefited the university long after his retirement.

E. Joe Gilliam Sr. and alumna Marilyn Balser (’49) were married on July 29, 1948. In addition to her successful career as an educator, his wife served alongside him at Warner Pacific as coordinator for visiting scholars and social events during her husband’s tenure as President. After their retirement from Warner Pacific, E. Joe and Marilyn co-founded The Christian Leadership Institute.

Current president Dr. Brian L. Johnson remarked: “The Warner Pacific University community will continue to honor Dr. Gilliam’s legacy of helping develop the character of our students as they pursue their career and callings. We offer our deepest empathies to the Gilliam family, and yet rejoice with them that ‘Dr. Joe’ has his well-deserved reward.”

Dr. Joe is survived by daughter Felicia Joann and her daughter Christy Joann and grandson Ashton Michael; son E. Joe Jr. and children E. Joe III, Hannah Marilyn, and Olivia Ann, along with great grandchildren Caitlyn Rose and Nora James; and daughter Marilyn Sue and her children Jackson and Evelyn. He is also survived by his son Vic’s daughters Rebecca Sue, Leanne Ruby, and Leanne’s newborn Milo Henri. He is preceded in the path to the Lord by Martha Marilyn, his daughter Amelia, and his sons Victor Stephen and Steven (Milo) Joseph.

About Warner Pacific University

Warner Pacific University is a Christ-centered, urban, liberal arts University dedicated to providing students from diverse backgrounds an education that prepares them to engage actively in a constantly changing world. In 2019, the University’s traditional student population was 62.4% students of color, and Warner Pacific is the first and only 4-year Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in Oregon.