4 minute read

Above and Beyond

The Campaign for ETSU raises $163 million

Since the early 1900s, when the future campus was farmland, the people of the Appalachian region have been campaigning for ETSU.

It was that farmland, in fact, that served as the first gift to the university, a gift made by railroad giant George L. Carter, who offered his land to serve as the campus for East Tennessee State Normal School. Carter was among many East Tennesseans who championed for Johnson City to be the site for one of three normal schools newly authorized by the state to strengthen the preparation of public school teachers.

A campaign for better education led to the creation of East Tennessee State University and also set the course for other campaigns to follow – campaigns driven by the people of this region and a profound belief in the power of higher education and the dreams that ETSU could make possible.

Such monumental campaigns resulted in the return of football, the launch of new academic programs, the renovation of the D.P. Culp Student Center, and, of course, the creation of the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy and the Quillen College of Medicine, one of the nation’s top schools for preparing rural primary care physicians.

So in late 2016 when the ETSU Foundation tossed around possible themes for its upcoming comprehensive capital campaign, it was a brief conversation. History had dictated the answer.

A silent phase of The Campaign for ETSU began in January 2017 with the ultimate goal of raising $120 million by the close of the campaign in 2022. Fast-forward two years later. President Brian Noland stood before ETSU’s top donors in April 2019 to publicly unveil The Campaign for ETSU, which had $50 million in commitments.

At the 2022 Distinguished President’s Trust (DPT) dinner on October 7, ETSU leaders provided an update on The Campaign for ETSU. Not only did the university reach its $120 million goal, but it surpassed it, raising just over $163 million.

“There is tremendous faith and respect for East Tennessee State University and for our mission to improve the quality of life of others,” said Pamela Ritter, Vice President for University Advancement and President/CEO of the ETSU Foundation. “With The Campaign for ETSU, we invited each donor to reflect upon their dreams and aspirations for ETSU and to write their own story for what they want the future of our institution to be.

“Our initial goal of $120 million was certainly ambitious, and the fact that we not only met that goal but surpassed it by such a distinct margin – and did so during a global pandemic – demonstrates the confidence and support our alumni and this community have for ETSU,” Ritter added.

The Campaign for ETSU established four primary pillars, or goals, that would transform the ETSU campus in a number of ways, noted Lt. Gen. Ron Hite, who chaired the campaign. These included creating new opportunities for students, launching additional academic programs, supporting enhancements to campus and new building projects, and generating opportunities for ETSU faculty.

“A major focus of our work has always been to build opportunities for our students,” Hite said. “The success of The Campaign for ETSU will allow us to fund scholarships, graduate student stipends, and travel abroad experiences and also support the participation of our students at national conferences. These scholarships and other types of financial assistance make it possible for our students to pursue higher education, and we are grateful to our donors for paving the pathway to a college degree.”

“Tonight we celebrate the new chapters that will be written through this latest campaign,” Noland said during the DPT dinner. “Most importantly, we say thank you to those who made this possible.”

Noland also reported that generous funding from Ballad Health has been used to create a number of new centers on campus that will provide enhanced research and teaching opportunities for ETSU faculty. These include the Center for Rural Health Research; the Strong BRAIN Institute; the Center for Pharmacy Education, Advocacy, and Outreach; and the Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement.

The Campaign for ETSU has also supported some of the major building projects on campus, including the renovation of Lamb Hall and the creation of the new Greene Stadium, the Martin Center for the Arts, and a new academic building, which is currently in the design phase.

“The Campaign for ETSU was a tremendous success – a success made possible by our alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and members of the community and their collective dream for the future of ETSU,” Ritter said.

Joe Smith is Executive Director of Advancement Communications. | Photo by Charlie Warden