East Tennessee State University

Retirees Association (ETSURA)

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In this issue of Accent, the ETSU Retirees Association launches a monthly column about the university and those associated with it through the decades.

At the outset, we will select stories from among those contributed by members of the association. In the future, we will encourage current faculty, staff, students and alumni to share memories so that their section of the “library” will not burn down either.

Our columns will take a look at campus life, faculty members, efforts to meet budget constraints, and whatever else may be of interest to readers. Since the tales presented are recollections, an occasional factual error may appear, but we promise to work hard to ensure accuracy.

We hope you will find the columns so interesting that you will save them, compiling your own Tales of the University “book.” We welcome your comments and suggestions. They may be sent to Dr. Willene Paxton, chair of the Tales of the University committee, at 1203 Lester Harris Road, Johnson City, TN 37601. Her e-mail address is willenepj@aol.com.

* * *

Tom Carson

A favorite story about the faculty is the one about Tom Carson, chair of the mathematics department during the 1940s and 1950s.

One afternoon, ‘Fessor’ Carson was working in his front yard. He was wearing old, worn-out work clothes and looking disheveled. A fancily dressed woman pulled up in her Cadillac, leaned out the window and asked, “Young man, how much do you charge to do yard work?”

Carson replied, “I don’t charge anything, but the lady who lives here lets me sleep with her!”

The woman rolled up the window, hit the accelerator and sped away.


Told by Dr. Dorman Stout, former vice president for student affairs

 * * *

Dr. Frank Williams, retired chair of the history department, tells another one about “Fessor” Carson.

Every Christmas, he would receive a white shirt from his family. Since he was going to a meeting of mathematicians at Georgia Tech, he asked his wife, “Where is that white shirt you gave me for Christmas? This is the only one I can find and I know I’ve gotten a new one every year for the past five years.”

His wife, Agnes, replied, “Dear, you never have worn that shirt. We have been giving you the same one every year.  

* * *

Dean Burleson

David S. Burleson, who served as academic dean for many years, was a brilliant man who was the author of many books, including a popular series of English books.

In the 1940s, the college’s tennis courts were resurfaced. Wanting to be certain the courts were kept in good condition, Burleson announced at an assembly, “Students shall wear absolutely nothing but tennis shoes on the new tennis courts.”

At first the dean didn’t realize what the students found so funny, but then he caught on and joined in the laughter.

Told by Dr. Frank Williams, former chair of the history department.

* * *

At another assembly Dean Burleson announced that men and women students must not get closer to each other than six inches.

The next day, many of the students carried rulers.

Told by Virginia Hicks.

* * * 

W. Flinn Rogers

W. Flinn Rogers, history professor and winner of ETSU’s first Outstanding Faculty Award, had a habit of slinging his bulging briefcase onto a table at the front of the classroom.

One day, some students decided to play a trick on him by moving the table near an open window and putting a heavy coat of wax on it.

The next day, Rogers came into the classroom and, as usual, threw his briefcase onto the table. It hit the waxed surface and sailed out the window, landing three stories below.


Told by Dr. Frank Williams, former chair of the history department.

* * *

Dr. Dorman Stout, Sr.

Dr. Dorman Stout Sr., a professor of sociology, lectured at a rapid pace, seldom stopping to take a breath. Students took notes furiously, often without looking up in their attempt to write down everything that was said.

In the middle of a lecture one day, Stout stopped abruptly and asked a student if he could throw a little light on the subject. The student went to the light switch and flipped it on.

Stout dismissed the student from class, but later relented when the offender said he hadn’t intended to be impertinent and admitted that he wasn’t paying attention.

Told by Dr. Dorman Stout Jr., former vice president for student affairs.

"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, 1203 Lester Harris Road, Johnson City, TN 37601, or willenepj@charter.net.

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