The ETSU Centennial Steering Committee Wishes a Happy 115th Birthday to

Bess Brown Cooper

East Tennessee State Normal School graduate
and the world's oldest living person

Besse Cooper, the world's oldest living person, is a member of the ETSU family

As our university marks its Centennial, it is the season to celebrate longevity - and especially a time to salute those who were there during our school's infancy.

So this brings us to Besse Cooper, East Tennessee State Normal School Class of 1916.

Mrs. Cooper is the oldest living graduate of our university. We know this because Mrs. Cooper, at age 115, is the oldest living person in the world.

Born Besse Brown on Aug. 26, 1896, in Sullivan County, Mrs. Cooper now lives in Monroe, Ga., where, her family says, she is doing well. According to records maintained by the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks the lives of supercentenarians, or those who have reached age 110, Mrs. Cooper is 26 days older than the world's second-oldest person.

East Tennessee State University opened in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School, founded on a mission of service to the region, initially with the intent of producing qualified teachers to educate the region's students. And Besse Cooper was true to her alma mater's mission: After earning her teaching degree from East Tennessee State Normal, she did indeed become a teacher. She married in 1924 and had four children.

"Mrs. Cooper is an example to hold up of a life lived right and well with the building blocks of education for the mind, service through the teaching of others and the value of family," said ETSU President Dr. Paul E. Stanton, Jr. "We are proud to call her a member of the ETSU family, and we salute her."

On October 1, 2010, East Tennessee State University began its centennial celebration, commemorating one hundred years of teaching, research, and public service in our region and state, across the nation, and around the globe. Establishing the campus on land donated by businessman and philanthropist George L. Carter, we opened our doors in 1911 as a teachers college, with an enrollment of twenty-nine students. Today, that number surpasses 15,000. While we have remained true to our original mission to prepare educators for the classroom, we now offer more than one hundred undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs through eleven colleges and schools. We invite you to join us in celebrating our centennial by enjoying the many activities related to our celebration, including concerts, plays, art exhibits, and sporting events.