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What’s In A Name?

By any other name, it is still ETSU:

1911 East Tennessee State Normal School
1925 East Tennessee State Teachers College
1930 State Teachers College, Johnson City
1943 East Tennessee State College
1963 East Tennessee State University

First Degrees and When Awarded

1912 Academic certificates
1926 Four-year degrees
1951 Master’s degrees
1972 Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
1974 Specialist in Education (Ed.S.)
1979 Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biomedical Sciences
1982 Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
2004 Doctor of Science in Nursing (D.S.N.) – December 2004
2005 Doctor of Audiology (AuD)
2005 Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Presidential Lineage

Sidney G. Gilbreath
Charles C. Sherrod
Burgin E.
Dossett, Sr.
D.P. Culp
Arthur H. DeRosier, Jr.

Ronald E. Beller
Bert C. Bach (Interim)
Roy S. Nicks
Paul E.
Stanton, Jr.
Since 1997

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History Highlights

1910-1930 | 1931-1960 | 1961-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-1999 | 2000-present


1910: First campus residence hall completed, named for Mayetta Wilkinson Carter, wife of railroad and business magnate whose donation of 120 acres helped ensure the establishment of East Tennessee State Normal School in Johnson City


  • East Tennessee State Normal School opens on October 2; 29 students register first day; Normal School dedicated October 10
  • Navy Blue and Old Gold chosen as school colors

1912: “No young woman student in the normal school will be permitted to dine at a public hotel with an escort and without a chaperon; and no young woman student will be permitted to attend any public dance.” - President Sidney G. Gilbreath

1915: Alumni Association is organized

Women's Basketball Team

1918: Women’s basketball team completes the season undefeated, 6-0

1920: Committee on commencement costumes favors caps and gowns

1921: First student body party

1922: First gymnasium completed


  • Structure now housing B. Carroll Reece Museum completed to house the library
  • First school newspaper – Chalk Line – published

1927: Accreditation granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

1928: The Training School, now University School (Alexander Hall), constructed


  • Radios first allowed in dormitories
  • Women first awarded athletic letters

1930: Enrollment at 1,420


1931: Sherrod Library, called “the fireproof library,” constructed

1935: Athletic teams first referred to as the "Buccaneers"; previous teams called “The Teachers”


  • Tennessee state legislature debates closing the college as “an unnecessary luxury”
  • The Amphitheatre, a federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) endeavor, completed on campus

1940: Largest-ever graduating class has nearly 70 students

1946: Bucs basketball team wins Smoky Mountain Tournament

1947: Enrollment reaches record as servicemen attend college on the GI Bill

1949: Graduate School organized

1952: ETSC withdraws from Smoky Mountain Conference and joins Volunteer State Athletic Association

1954: ETSC adopts rules of compliance to 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling against racial segregation

1956: First bookstore opens on campus

1957: ETSC joins Ohio Valley athletic conference

1958: Lambda Chi Alpha opens first fraternity house in Tennessee at 431 W. Maple Street

1959:The university’s Kingsport Center opens

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1961: ETSC celebrates 50th Anniversary; congratulatory telegram from President John F. Kennedy; enrollment tops 5,000

1962: Record 2,000 freshmen enroll

1963: ETSC achieves university status

1964: Enrollment reaches 7,000


  • B. Carroll Reece Museum formally dedicated
  • Traffic regulations require registration of vehicles for first time

1966: University centers open in Bristol and Greeneville

1967: Student body president Jerry S. Jones announces that freshmen will be welcomed on campus during “School Spirit Week” rather than being harassed as in previous years during “Rat Week”

1969: ETSU Buccaneers defeat Louisiana Tech, led by quarterback Terry Bradshaw, in the Grantland Rice Bowl

Nixon Delivers Speech

1970: President Richard M. Nixon delivers speech on the steps of Burgin E. Dossett Hall

1971: Kingsport University Center is constructed near Allandale Mansion

1972: ETSU placed under control of central Board of Regents


  • Tennessee legislature creates ETSU’s College of Medicine
  • Women athletes join intercollegiate athletic program
  • WETS-FM (89.5) begins broadcasting
  • Cross-country All-American Neil Cusack of ETSU’s “Irish Brigade” wins Boston Marathon with third-fastest time ever


  • First Faculty Senate meeting
  • Shelbridge acquired as the presidential residence

1976: Construction completed on D.P. Culp University Center

1977: Memorial Center (the “Mini-Dome”) opens


  • First class of 24 medical students enrolls
  • ETSU joins Southern Conference after 21 years in the OVC

1979: Sherrod Library designated state document depository


  • ETSU implements the semester system
  • Parrot mascot “Pepper” arrives in big egg, “hatched” during homecoming festivities
  • First NCAA riflery championships held at ETSU

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1981: Construction of WETS-FM transmitter tower and building on Holston Mountain begins


  • College of Medicine receives full accreditation from Liaison Committee on Medical Education
  • First Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degrees awarded

1983: Medical school facility opens on VA grounds at Mountain Home


  • ETSU’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Services opens as a state Center of Excellence
  • First “dry” (non-alcoholic) rush held by fraternities


  • ETSU launches yearlong celebration of its 75th Anniversary; letter of congratulations from President Ronald Reagan
  • President Bush
    Vice President George H.W. Bush visits ETSU to honor U.S. First District Congressman and Mrs. James H. Quillen upon creation of the Cecile Cox Quillen Chair of Medicine in Geriatrics and Gerontology, a state Chair of Excellence
  • ETSU named a Homecoming ’86 community by the State of Tennessee
  • Medical Library dedicated at College of Medicine


  • ETSU celebrates its diamond anniversary – 75 years of tradition and vision in East Tennessee
  • University establishes Presidential Distinguished Lecture Series
  • ETSU historical marker dedicated
  • ETSU enjoys a 75th anniversary party on October 2
  • ETSU buries a time capsule
  • ETSU holds a rededication day
  • Golf program reinstated after three-year hiatus


  • College of Business achieves full accreditation of its bachelor’s and master’s degree programs by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Initial funding of AFG Industries Chair of Excellence in Business and Technology, designated for the College of Business and School of Applied Science and Technology
  • ETSU signs formal exchange agreement with North China University of Technology
  • Total university enrollment of 10,198 marks ETSU’s largest enrollment in 10 years
  • Center for Adult Programs and Services dedicated


  • Division of Health Sciences is created: College of Medicine, College of Nursing, and College of Public & Allied Health
  • ETSU unveils new university mountain logo
  • Ground broken to construct new studio-office building for WETS-FM, ETSU’s National Public Radio affiliate
  • ETSU’s third endowed chair of excellence – the Allen and Ruth Harris Chair of Excellence in Business – established
  • The Commission on the Future of East Tennessee State University conducts initial meeting on campus
  • ETSU School of Continuing Studies approved by State Board of Regents
  • Total university enrollment of 11,156 students marks largest enrollment in ETSU’s 77-year history
  • Nearly 6,000 people spend “An Evening with Jimmy Carter” as part of ETSU’s Presidential Distinguished Lecture Series


  • College of Medicine becomes the James H. Quillen College of Medicine by unanimous vote of the State Board of Regents, now officially referred to as Tennessee Board of Regents
  • WETS-FM begins broadcasting 24 hours a day
  • Historic exchange agreement signed by ETSU and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, allowing the two institutions to study cultural, social, and historic connections between the Scottish and Appalachian Highlands
  • The fourth endowed chair of excellence at ETSU – the Carroll H. Long Chair of Excellence in Surgical Research – established in College of Medicine
  • “Turning Toward 2011,” a report by the Commission on the Future of East Tennessee State University, published. Charting a course into the 21st century and the university’s centennial was the challenge accepted by the Commission, a distinguished group of alumni and community leaders whose report is the blueprint for the ETSU of a different era
  • ETSU enrollment tops 11,000 mark for second consecutive year, setting another record for the 78-year-old institution – 11,570 students
  • Tennessee Board of Regents approves the Paul Dishner Chair of Excellence in Medicine
  • James H. Quillen College of Medicine dedicated in honor of the man who has represented the 1st District of Tennessee in the United States Congress since 1962. As a member of the Tennessee legislature, Representative Quillen helped draft the bill leading to university status for ETSU in 1963, and his efforts in Congress brought the College of Medicine to ETSU through the Teague-Cranston Act in 1974.


  • ETSU achieves its highest spring enrollment ever recorded – 10,831 students
  • Officials at ETSU and Tri-Cities State Tech (now Northeast State Technical Community College) sign a transfer agreement
  • Then U.S. Senator Albert Gore Jr. keynotes ETSU’s International Week observance, addressing the global environment
  • Aethlon: The Journal of Sports Literature begins publishing at ETSU
  • Dr. Ronald C. “Ronnie” Hamdy named holder of the Cecile Cox Quillen Chair of Medicine in Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • School (now College) of Nursing and City of Johnson City work together to establish a downtown clinic for the homeless
  • The Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) -- a consortium of the Florida Institute of Technology, ETSU, the University of Georgia, and Valdosta (Ga.) State College -- approved by the National Science Foundation to recommission a large telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona
  • School of Nursing (now a college) opens Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center
  • Bluegrass Band Performs in Russia
    The ETSU Bluegrass Band, including future country music star Kenny Chesney, participates in the Soviet Union’s International Folk Festival in Moscow
  • Enrollment exceeds 11,000 for third consecutive fall semester and establishes new record – 11,749
  • The Mountain City Family Health Center, established by ETSU’s department of family medicine, dedicated
  • Exchange agreement formalized between ETSU and Sultan Qaboos University, Sultanate of Oman

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ETSU’s Division of Health Sciences receives the largest grant in university history, $6 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to improve health care delivery in rural communities


  • Buccaneer basketball team defeats Arizona in first round of NCAA Tournament in Atlanta
  • Cecile Cox Quillen Chair of Medicine facilities dedicated at VA
  • 10th anniversary of the first College of Medicine graduating class


  • ETSU honored as one of the South’s 10 best regional universities based on quality and cost by U.S. News & World Report
  • ETSU reaccredited for the maximum 10-year period by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools


  • ETSU announces the James H. Quillen Chair of Excellence in Education
  • ETSU and Eastman Chemical Company form partnership for recycling
  • The Wayne G. Basler Chair of Excellence for the Integration of the Arts, Rhetoric, and Science announced
  • ETSU officials plan campus lighting program


  • Shelbridge, ETSU’s presidential residence, named to National and Tennessee Registers of Historic Places
  • ETSU golf team ranked number one in two national polls
  • ETSU opens new 20,000-square-foot facility in Bristol


  • Ground broken for new ETSU library
  • University opens ETSU at Greeneville site
  • ETSU football team wins its first ever Southern Conference championship and progresses for the first time to the NCAA Division IAA Playoffs, defeating Villanova in a first round game.


  • First ETSU PRIDE Week offers region an opportunity to show pride in and support for the university while welcoming new students to campus
  • The Quillen College of Medicine dedicates a new Osteoporosis Center


  • University opens new astronomy observatory, naming it later for its mentor, Dr. Harry Powell, Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geomatics
  • U.S.News and World Report’s “1998 Best Graduate Schools” listing ranks ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine sixth in the nation for its programs in rural medicine, in a tie with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ETSU’s College of Nursing was ranked 26th in this listing among the nation’s more than 300 graduate schools offering the family nurse practitioner program.
  • Ground is broken at the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center for a new Basic Sciences Building for ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine. This $36 million facility is a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the State of Tennessee.
  • ETSU co-sponsors and ETSU President Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. co-hosts the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia Economic Summit, the fourth in a series of East Tennessee economic development conferences.
  • A third grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation comes to ETSU to establish an Expanding Community Partnerships Program. This project offers interdisciplinary learning opportunities for faculty and students in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Applied Science and Technology, Business, and Education, along with the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services and the Division of Student Affairs. In addition to Hawkins and Johnson counties, the program is developing new outreach projects in Hancock and Unicoi counties.


  • Sherrod Library Dedication
    ETSU opens and dedicates the new $28 million Charles C. Sherrod Library
  • James H. Quillen College of Medicine celebrates 25th Anniversary
  • ETSU’s new Advisement, Resources and Career (ARC) Center opens
  • For the second consecutive year, the American Academy of Family Physicians ranks ETSU’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine seventh in the nation for the number of students who entered an accredited family medicine residency program after graduation
  • New ETSU Cancer Center opens at Johnson City Medical Center – a partnership between the James H. Quillen College of Medicine and the Mountain States Health Alliance
  • ETSU is a partner in the campaign that brings “All-America City” designation to the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia region

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  • Local businessman Louis Gump establishes Roan Scholars Leadership Program for top high school graduates to attend ETSU
  • ETSU publishes Home and Away: A University Brings Food to the Table – Recipes and Remembrances from East Tennessee State University to raise funds for WETS-FM
  • The university’s Gray Fossil Site (Miocene epoch) is discovered during road construction in the neighboring community of Gray, Tennessee


  • University opens, dedicates 13,000-square-foot Scott M. Niswonger Digital Media Center for computer graphics, product design, and animation
  • Hear That Whistle Blow at Kennedy Center
    “Hear That Whistle Blow” theatrical production goes to the Kennedy Center
  • Kaplan/Newsweek College Catalog 2002 recognizes ETSU as a top university in the category “Schools that offer the best value for your tuition dollar”
  • Paleontologist comes aboard faculty to oversee the Gray Fossil Site
  • “ETSU Bluegrass Pride” CD released
  • Leadership minor established at ETSU
  • School of Graduate Studies marks 50th anniversary


  • ETSU creates a Research Foundation – the first for any state school in Tennessee
  • ETSU Research Foundation opens ETSU Innovation Laboratory to house Tennessee Small Business Development Center and business incubator
  • Stanton-Gerber Hall dedicated on the campus of the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • Doctor of Science in Nursing degree approved
  • Doctor of Audiology degree approved
  • ETSU earns perfect performance funding score
  • ROTC celebrates 50th anniversary at ETSU
  • The ETSU Arboretum opens and would become certified by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council
  • The Campaign for ETSU Tomorrow, officially completed in June 2002, garnered a final total of $106 million
  • The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaffirmed ETSU’s accreditation for a maximum term of 10 years


  • ETSU announces planned expansion of University Innovation Park along Med-Tech Corridor as partnership with Johnson City
  • The ETSU colleges of Business and Applied Science and Technology join to form the College of Business and Technology
  • Funding for ETSU Research and Sponsored Programs activity exceeded $36 million in fiscal 2003, up nearly 10 percent from the previous year
  • President’s Pride student service organization celebrates 25 years on campus
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy degree approved
  • ETSU Bluegrass Band Performs at NATO
    ETSU Veterans Memorial dedicated
  • ETSU Bluegrass Band performs at NATO headquarters
  • Men’s basketball team earns trip to the NCAA Tournament to play Wake Forest
  • ETSU discontinues its football program


  • James H. Quillen bequeaths $14.6 million for ETSU and Quillen College of Medicine scholarships – largest gift in ETSU’s history
  • University names College of Education for longtime supporter and education advocate Claudius G. Clemmer
  • Spring enrollment sets records
  • ETSU celebrates the 30th anniversary of the establishment of its College of Medicine
  • ETSU’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine ranked number three in the nation for excellence in rural medicine education, according to the 2005 “America’s Best Graduate Schools” issue of U.S .News & World Report. And, the College of Medicine tied for 26th place in family medicine with the University of California-Los Angeles, University of Vermont, University of Virginia, and Wright State University.
  • Red panda and pregnant rhinoceros discoveries at the Gray Fossil Site
  • ETSU again tops all Tennessee public universities in performance funding
  • Human Patient Simulation Center unveiled at the College of Medicine
  • ETSU and Bristol Motor Speedway announce academic partnership in Motorsports Operations
  • ETSU Buccaneer men’s team returns to the NCAA Basketball Tournament versus Cincinnati
  • ETSU presents former Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter the inaugural Quest Award for his pivotal role in establishing the medical school
  • ETSU Friends of Music celebrates 25th anniversary
  • Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project dedicated, housed in Archives of Appalachia
  • The Frederick B. Warren-William B. Greene Jr. Golf Center dedicated


University joins Atlantic Sun Conference in athletics


ETSU celebrates its centennial