2008 Inductees

Dr. Ronald E. Carrier

Dr. Ronald E. Carrier is President Emeritus of James Madison University (JMU), where he served for nearly 28 years. When he was appointed in 1971, the institution was known as James Madison College, and he was the youngest college president in the Commonwealth of Virginia. During his tenure, the school saw its enrollment increase from 3,800 to 14,000 students while new facilities totaling $240 million were constructed, the operating budget increased from $10 million to $200 million, 40 new programs came online, and five colleges and a graduate school were established.

The former president of the student body and a 1955 East Tennessee State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Carrier continued his education at the University of Illinois, earning master of science and doctoral degrees in economics. Honorary doctorates have also been conferred upon him by Bridgewater College, Jacksonville State University, Francis Marion University, the College of William and Mary, and, recently, by the Romanian American University.

Carrier began his career as an associate professor at the University of Mississippi, moving in 1963 to Memphis State University where he was appointed Provost and then Vice President for Academic Affairs.

For one year, 1986-87, Carrier left JMU when he was appointed by the Governor of Virginia to the post of president of the state’s Center for Innovative Technology, an entity designed to enhance the economic well-being of the Commonwealth through the scientific and technical resources of its universities and reciprocal partnerships with industry.

A recipient of the 1976 ETSU Outstanding Alumnus Award and the 1999 ETSU Distinguished Alumnus in Higher Education Award, Carrier was selected the 1991 Virginian of the Year.

Among his many civic activities, Carrier has served at the request of the Governor of Virginia on numerous committees and task forces, as well as a participant in a White House conference and with organizations devoted to improving education.

Carrier and his wife, ETSU Class of 1956 alumna Edith, are members of the ETSU Legacy Circle and the President’s Trust Silver Society for their generous support of the university. They have established the Carrier Endowment through the ETSU Foundation to recognize outstanding ETSU student government leaders.

The Carriers reside in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and are the parents of three children, Michael, Linda, and Jennine.


Ruth Ellis DiGregorio

Ruth Ellis DiGregorio founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of Mountain Empire Bank (currently Bank of America) based in Johnson City. She is now retired.

A graduate of Emory University and of the Vanderbilt School of Banking, DiGregorio was a pioneer in the region for women bank executives.

In addition to her 30-year banking career, DiGregorio was the owner and operator of Tennessee Pottery from 1989-2006.

DiGregorio’s many accomplishments include having been named the recipient of the State of Tennessee First Lady Award in 1976, serving on the Tennessee Board of Regents, and serving as president of the Johnson City, Jonesborough, and Washington County Chamber of Commerce, which inducted her into its Hall of Fame. She was appointed to the Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta in the Nashville branch and served as secretary of the Health and Educational Facilities Board for the City of Johnson City.

Currently serving on the ETSU Foundation Board of Directors, she participated with financial aid committee for the first class to enter the James H. Quillen College of Medicine. ETSU named her an Honorary Alumna in 1981.

DiGregorio and her husband, Vincent, reside in Johnson City. She has a son, Dr. M. Keith Ellis, who is a member of the ETSU Class of 1978 and now a local dentist.


James W. Holmes

James Holmes is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Elizabethton-based Carter County Bank.

A member of the East Tennessee State University Class of 1970, Holmes earned a bachelor’s degree in management and began his banking career as a management trainee with First Peoples Bank in Johnson City. And, from 1971-1975, he was a bank examiner for the State of Tennessee Department of Banking.

In the fall of 1975, Holmes joined Carter County Bank as Senior Vice President with responsibility for lending and investments. He assumed the post of President and CEO in 1991.

Holmes currently serves on the boards of the Tennessee Bankers Association, Carter County Bank, and Carter County BanCorp, in addition to serving as that organization’s president. He is treasurer of the Elizabethton/Carter County Association of Business and Industry and helps guide the Boy Scouts of America’s Sequoyah Council.

A longtime supporter of the Elizabethton/Carter County Boys and Girls Club, he sits on the group’s Advisory Board and has served as president and board member in the past. In recognition of his unusually devoted service, he was presented with the Medallion Award by the Boys and Girls Club of America in 1994.

A member of the ETSU Foundation, Holmes serves on the ETSU Center for Banking Advisory Board. His leadership has enabled Carter County Bank to be recognized as a member of the President’s Trust Silver Society in the ETSU Foundation for the bank’s many years of strong philanthropic support for the university.

Holmes resides in Elizabethton with his wife, Debbie, a Carter County teacher who received a bachelor’s degree at ETSU in 1983 followed by a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in 1986.


Gary M. Mabrey, III

Gary Mabrey is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Johnson City, Jonesborough, and Washington County Chamber of Commerce. He has served 21 years with the organization, which holds a four-star accreditation rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

At the national level, Mabrey holds positions on several committees and boards of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, including chairman of the Accrediting Board and member of the Federation Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, Small Business Council, Homeland Security, Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100, and the Executive Leadership Forum. A member of the Tennessee State Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Tennessee Business Roundtable Board of Directors, he is also past president of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives.

After completing military service in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam era, Mabrey received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and political science from East Tennessee State University in 1973 and stayed on to add a master’s degree in city management in 1974.

An active alumnus, Mabrey is a member of the ETSU Foundation, the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy Steering Committee, ETSU Athletics Facilities Steering Committee, the University Scholarship Committee, and the College of Business and Technology Advisory Board. Along with his wife, Jackie, he is a member of the Distinguished President’s Trust and the Legacy Circle.

Mabrey has long been associated with the United Way, serving as chair for Johnson City in 2000 and president of the board in 2003. He is also a member and former chair of the Frontier Health Board of Directors.

The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia has recognized Mabrey’s achievements, naming him 2002 Executive of the Year, one of the “Top 50 Over 50” in 2003, and, within the publication’s 20th anniversary issue, featuring him in the “Journal of 100” listing of those who have a great impact on the region.

The Mabrys reside in Johnson City. He has two daughters: Megan, of Atlanta, and Heather, an ETSU alumna now studying for a graduate degree at the university. Step-daughter Claire is a senior at Science Hill High School.


Mark W. Thomas

Mark Thomas, who was a member of the varsity track and field team and also served as vice president of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1984 and went on to earn a law degree at Mercer University.

Thomas settled in Atlanta and founded the law firm of Mark Thomas and Associates, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this month. The firm’s specialties are injured victims, including those with catastrophic personal injury, product liability, and mass torts. Thomas has obtained several settlements and verdicts in excess of $1 million.

A member of the State Bar of Georgia, Thomas is licensed to practice before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Thomas holds membership in the ETSU Alumni Association, where he serves on the board of directors, and he is also a member of the College of Business and Technology Advisory Board. With his wife, he has established the Mark and Heather Thomas Fellowship to support outstanding faculty in the College. They are both members of the ETSU Distinguished President’s Trust for their support of the College and community through the ETSU Foundation.

Thomas is a member of the Lawyer’s Club of Atlanta, the Atlanta Bar Association, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, and the American Bar Association. He is involved in the governance of the Cherokee Town and Country Club and is also a member of the Huntcliff Club and First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, where he teaches a first grade Sunday School class.

The Thomas family, including sons Colin, 14, and Iain, 10, resides in Shady Springs, Georgia.


Tom Tull

Thomas Tull is the Senior Director for Guest Services with Mountain States Health Alliance. He is responsible for designing, implementing, and overseeing guest services initiatives for the health system, which has more than 1,400 beds.

Originally from Knoxville, Tull received his undergraduate degree with a major in advertising from The University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1984. Eleven years later, in 1995, he earned his master of business administration degree at East Tennessee State University.

During his varied work experiences, Tull has been employed by Proffitt’s Department Stores in management and as corporate security director; at ETSU as a coordinator in the Family Medicine Department within the James H. Quillen College of Medicine; and with Blue Ridge Medical Management Corporation (a subsidiary of Mountain States Health Alliance) in public relations and marketing services.

In 1994, Tull became the Physician Recruitment Director for Mountain States Health Alliance, and he assumed his present position in 2001.

In recognition of his expertise, Tull is serving as an examiner for the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence.

An alumnus with strong ties to the university, Tull has taught as an adjunct in the College of Business and Technology since 1997. He has participated in the Alumni Return to the Classroom program, and, for the past 10 years, he has been widely renowned for his enthusiastic leadership as a volunteer with the ETSU PRIDE Week Campaign.

In demand as a speaker, Tull has delivered presentations at numerous regional and national conferences, including, this year, at the meeting of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Tull has a long-term commitment to working with the American Heart Association at the Washington County and state levels, as well as United Way of Johnson City and Girls Inc. He has, in many capacities, assisted the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce and the Johnson City, Jonesborough, and Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

In 2000, Tull was recognized as one of the “Forty Under 40” in the Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia.

Tull and his wife, Chrisann, reside in Elizabethton. They have two children, Caleb and Annalee.