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MLB Umpire Accomplishes Goal with RMI Program

EKU President Michael Benson and Gregory Gibson

Thirty years ago, Gregory Gibson made a promise to his parents: he would graduate from college. While his initial plans may not have worked out as he originally intended, Greg will walk across the stage at Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Business and Technology Commencement Ceremony in May 2019. He will walk away with a degree, a fulfilled promise to his parents, and life experience that built a very interesting story.

Greg grew up in Boyd County, Kentucky, where he graduated high school from Rosehill Christian School. An Ashland native, it made sense to start his post-secondary education at Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC). Greg was attending as a first-generation college student, meaning he would be the first in his family to pursue and complete a degree. Greg had support from his family, as well as the hope and a promise that he would finish his education.

Calling basketball games and umpiring baseball started as a way to make extra money. While Greg had not been heavily involved in sports in high school, a friend introduced him to the idea and the money earned was used to pay his college tuition. A way to earn tuition money morphed into a career in January 1991, when Greg left ACTC to attend The Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires in Florida. Greg went into the minor leagues in April 1991 and his career continued to escalate. He has now been an umpire the major leagues since 2000.  Nine Division series, five National League Championship Series and the 2011 World Series are among the list of notable events Greg has worked.

Throughout his career, Greg felt the desire to continue learning and to find an opportunity that he could pursue for “the next fifty years.” After earning his insurance license and entering the field with State Farm, Greg decided it was time to finish what he started years ago and complete a degree.

The Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) program at EKU is a one-of-a-kind program in the state of Kentucky. It was this program that attracted Greg to EKU to complete his degree. Once he made his decision to attend EKU for the spring 2017 semester, Greg says he “dropped everything, drove up, and left enrolled.” He is thankful to Ms. Debbie Ellis, RMI Program Coordinator, for helping him with his initial enrollment and continuing to be of assistance ever since. “She was so helpful from the beginning,” Greg stated. He also credits the instructors in the program, specifically Dr. Burke Christensen and Dr. Siwei Gao, for encouraging him and pushing him to better himself in each RMI course. Greg has been able to complete most of his courses through distance-learning given that he is frequently on the road or away at training for MLB.

In preparing for his upcoming graduation, Greg looks back at the last two years with gratitude. “EKU made it all possible,” he said. “Without EKU, I would not be graduating from college.” He encourages other students to realize how much opportunity can be found through higher education, and to never give up on their dreams. While he may not have had the “college experience,” typical to a traditional student, Greg is thankful for the way things have worked out and the positive effect that baseball had on his life and that of his family.

Greg resides in Catlettsburg, Kentucky with his wife Michelle Gibson, who is teacher at Boyd County High School. They have three sons, Carter (14), Cameron (16), and Kyle (19). Greg’s father, to whom he made that promise many years ago, will turn 78 in April. Combined with the fulfilled promise of Greg’s completed degree, there is much to celebrate.

Greg is one of the featured speakers for the Robert B. Morgan Insurance Conference, to be held on April 12, 2019 at Griffin Gate Marriott in Lexington, Ky.

Pictured: EKU President Dr. Michael Benson with Greg Gibson during his campus visit, November 2017.   

Published on March 21, 2019

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