Johnson City (November 21, 2012) - The East Tennessee State University National Alumni Association will host its annual Besse Brown Cooper Ring Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, at the ETSU Hall of Honor Gallery on the 2nd Floor of Burgin Dossett Hall with President Brian Noland.
Other university and alumni officials will be on hand to present the University’s rings to students participating in the campus tradition. The Official ETSU Ring design is constant – it is the one common bond between those who have graduated in the past and those who will graduate this year and in years to come.
“Our official ring at ETSU is a link with students, staff, faculty and alumni,” Dr. Richard A. Manahan, Vice President of University Advancement said. “This symbol serves as a reminder of the tradition of excellence this school and our graduates represent.”
Manahan notes this tradition is a significant event in the lives of the students, who have earned the right to wear the rings. This is truly reflected in the life of Besse Brown Cooper, who is a member of the Class of 1916, and is the oldest living graduate of our school.
A very important fact to know about Mrs. Cooper is she wore the indelible symbol of devotion to East Tennessee State University longer than most lifetimes…she wore her class ring for 92 years. The reason she no longer sports it is because doctors were fearful the band would cut off her circulation, so the ring was cut from her finger. After hearing Mrs. Cooper’s story, the Office of University Advancement wanted to get her a new class ring. She wears the new class ring, this time on a chain around her neck. For those attending the Fall Ring Ceremony, they will be able to check out her original ring. The Cooper family has donated it to the university.
The event is for students who have attained junior or senior standing and completed at least 60 credit hours, faculty and staff who are graduates of the university and all alumni.
ETSU National Alumni Association Executive Director Robert M. Plummer says receiving the ring is truly one of the milestones in a student’s academic career. “Students see the ring as more than a piece of jewelry, but as a way they can wear their pride in their alma mater and have a lifelong connection with ETSU.”
ETSU’s official ring design makes it one of the most unique rings in the country. Prominently featured on the top of the ring is the ETSU seal in the center. The right ring side features Gilbreath Hall, the first building built on campus, named after the first ETSU president, Sidney G. Gilbreath. The left ring side features the Charles C. Sherrod Library, symbolizing the newest building on campus. The most unique feature is the words of the Alma Mater, In the Shadow of the Mountains, inscribed on a banner above Gilbreath Hall. This represents ETSU’s regional setting, year round beauty, traditions and heritage of the Appalachians.
For more information about the Besse Brown Cooper Ring Ceremony or the official ring tradition, contact the ETSU National Alumni Association at (423) 439-4218.