Dr. James Gilmour

Dr. James Gilmour Named Waubonsee “Fabulous 40”

Waubonsee Community College is proud to honor former insurance executive Dr. James Gilmour, seen here, as one of the college’s “Fabulous 40” alumni.
Sugar Grove — For someone who started his college career with limited goals, Dr. James Gilmour far exceeded his own expectations. A longtime successful health insurance executive, now semi-retired and running a horse farm in Florida, he has been named one of Waubonsee Community College’s “Fabulous 40” alumni.

As part of the college’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration, Waubonsee is honoring 40 alumni and students who embody the mission, vision and values of the college. These individuals represent the diversity of Waubonsee’s students and the college district, as well as the diversity of the college’s mission as a comprehensive community college.

Growing up in Oswego, Gilmour graduated from Oswego High School in 1961. He joined the Army and was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division. After six months in Hawaii, he shipped out to Vietnam, attaining the rank of sergeant. When he left the service and returned to the Fox Valley area, he worked for a time as manager of a local Goodyear tire store before starting a farm equipment manufacturing business with his father.

During this time he took a few courses from Aurora College (now Aurora University). Combined with the handful of classes he took from the University of Hawaii while stationed on the island, he was able to enroll at Waubonsee and graduate in the first class of 1968.

“The fact of the matter was that Waubonsee was local and I could continue to work part-time,” he said. “It was a tremendous opportunity for me for a fresh start. I shifted gears at that point in my life. Waubonsee essentially turned my life around.”

Being in Waubonsee’s first graduating class meant that Gilmour’s classes took place in a variety of locations throughout the district.

“I took classes all over town,” he said. “With college, it seemed like the future was brighter for me.”

His commitment to education was a change from his attitude in high school.

“I felt a lot more serious at Waubonsee,” he said. “The faculty was extremely supportive and helpful. It was a different world than high school. In high school I didn’t really put the effort in. When I got to Waubonsee, there were people to support me.”

Making up for lost time, after graduation Gilmour immediately enrolled at Northern Illinois University for the summer term. He earned a bachelor’s degree and went on to earn a master’s degree in education. After earning his master’s degree, he sent a copy to his old high school principal to show him the huge turnaround.

Putting his degree to work, Gilmour went to Miami Central High School, in Miami, Fla., to teach instructional technology. Experiencing a complete “cultural shock,” he returned to Illinois after two years and took a position as a counselor and student activities director with McHenry County College. He returned to NIU and ultimately earned a third degree from the university — a doctorate in leadership and organizational policy studies — after eight years of night school.

After earning his doctorate, Gilmour embarked on his career in the health insurance field. He gained extensive management experience as an executive for a number of “Fortune 100” companies and nonprofit hospitals. He led programs in Florida and throughout the southeastern United States for Cigna Healthplans, Travelers Healthcare and Aetna Healthplans. He was vice president for PanAmerican Life, developing and implementing health care throughout the United States and Central America.

Eventually, he went on to help start Florida Health L.C., the largest network in Florida. Serving as president and CEO, Florida Health’s program included 155 facilities and more than 30,000 physicians in their plan. He is now managing partner with AGG, Inc., a health care consultation business.

Semi-retired from the health insurance field, Gilmour and his wife, Julie, now run Muir Haven Farm, a 70-acre horse farm outside of Brooksville, Fla. They breed quarter horses, race horses and horses for roping and cutting. Several of their horses come from champion bloodlines.

Gilmour is a board member on the North Central Florida Regional Health-planning Council, is on the board of directors of the National Voluntary Hospital Association PPO, and is listed in the Who’s Who Among American Healthcare Executives.