ETSU President Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr.
During the Staff Convocation
September 30, 2008
Good afternoon and welcome to our annual Staff Convocation, an event that pays tribute to the people who make East Tennessee State University work. As you all know, this is my final Staff Convocation, at least on this side of the podium, and my message today is one of thanks, for all the work you do in making ETSU the best regional university in the country.
As I told the faculty back in August, at the beginning of fall semester, I take exceptional pride in this institution. Every time I open the trunk of my car, I see the ETSU Pride sign I carried around with me to each interview station, when I was being interviewed for the presidency 12 years ago. It’s a symbol of a deep feeling I have for ETSU, a place where I have worked, with great joy, since 1985. My wife Nancy, although not on the payroll, certainly puts in as many hours as a full-time employee, and I want to thank her for standing beside me all along the way during a most rewarding presidency.
Consider a total operating budget of $380 million. Consider an economic impact nearing $1 billion annually. Think about eleven colleges and schools, eleven doctoral programs. Contemplate what it means to be the flagship health sciences university in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, the sixth largest higher education system in the country. Ponder the fact that ETSU was the first university among all the schools in both the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee systems to form a research foundation. That thumbnail sketch is enough to prove that ETSU is the most complex university in the TBR system.
Further proof is found in the fact that, a little over ten years ago, funding in support of research and sponsored program activity stood at $13 million. Today, we approach $50 million. Ten years ago, ETSU offered three doctoral programs. Now there are eleven, and there are four more on the drawing board. You are generally considered a major research and doctoral university if you have 15 doctoral programs. We will have that many within the next two years.
Those brief facts depict a very complex and energetic university. It takes a lot of talent, a lot of sweat, a lot of long hours to make a place like this succeed. Above all, it takes people who have a deep commitment to the mission of the university, who view it not just as a place to go to work but rather as something larger. I see the pride our employees take as they go about their daily work, whether that work is cleaning a water fountain, building a budget, escorting students back to residence halls late at night, or securing much-needed financial aid for a first-generation college student. No matter what the nature of your particular job, you are responsible for the effectiveness of our mission, in teaching, research, and public service. Thank-you’s don’t pay the bills, I know, but I want each of you to understand how much I appreciate everything you do to make ETSU the fine university that it is.