East Tennessee State University

Retirees Association (ETSURA)

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The following memories were among those shared by former ETSU faculty and staff members at a dinner sponsored by the University Women’s Club:

Margaret Stewart, former office management professor, remembered being concerned as a new instructor when a
student wasn’t doing well in her course. He wasn’t making “D” grades — she was more or less giving them to him because
he seemed to be trying so hard. 

One day at lunch, Stewart asked Christine Burleson, a master teacher, what she should do or say to the student. 

Miss Christine responded: “Margaret, don’t you know that if a person cannot make more than a ‘D,’ you can’t explain to him why he has made that ‘D’?”

Margaret Stewart


Stewart also recalled the time Dr. Edna Gregg, office management chair, complimented her on the fact that none of her students seemed to have problems confusing the use of “their” and “there” in their written assignments. 

Having grown up in Southwest Virginia, Stewart knew the reason.  “It’s not surprising to me,” Williams told Gregg. “They are treated as two different words around here, one pronounced ‘their’ and the other pronounced ‘thar.’”


Dr. Frank Williams, Bob Crawford and Ed Harrell shared teaching responsibilities for a history class of at least 260 students.  With that many enrolled, an objective test was essential because the professors would never have had time to read and grade subjective tests. 

Developing a test took a long time, and the three used some of the same questions for several years. As a result, they didn’t want any copies taken from the classroom. 

A well-dressed student got up suddenly one day and walked out of the room with his copy of an exam. Williams saw him and gave chase, yelling, “Stop! Wait! You can’t have that test!” But the student disappeared.

Dr. Frank Williams

When Williams returned to the classroom, Crawford and Harrell asked him if he had caught the culprit. He said he hadn’t, and the whole class stood up and cheered.

The three professors had to stay up until dawn to write a new test, and the mysterious student wasn’t seen again in their classroom.

Williams has asked former students who graduated 30 or 40 years ago if they knew the name of the person who took the test.
All of them have said they didn’t. However, those who were in the classroom on that fateful day have confessed they really enjoyed hearing Williams yell and seeing the student run.



"Tales of the University" is a regular column provided by the ETSU Retirees Association about the university and the people associated with it through the decades.  Faculty, staff, students and alumni are encouraged to share their memories of ETSU with the Retirees Association for consideration for future columns.  Stories, comments and suggestions may be sent to Dr. Willene Paxton, chair of the Tales of the University committee, at willenepj@aol.com.

Mailing Address:  Office of Human Resources
ETSU Box 70564
Johnson City, TN  37614-1707
Telephone:  423-439-4457
Fax:  423-439-8354
TDD:  423-439-4710

Office Hours:  8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. E.S.T. Monday - Friday
Office Location:  Rooms 307 and 311, Dossett Hall

Updated on 09/07/10