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ETSU Retirees Association

Office of Human Resources

Tales of the University

There is an African proverb that states: “When an old person dies, a library burns down.”  The East Tennessee State University Retirees Association does not want the “library” which is the sum total of our memories of the institution to burn and be destroyed.  And yet, how can we capture the culture of such a complex organization as a university?  Where do we begin?  How do we proceed?  We decided to plunge in to see what happens.  But more than that, we start with the essence of any culture: that is with the people who made it, those who led it in good times and bad, those who taught the classes, those who attended and those who looked on. We’ll look at their behaviors, thoughts, dreams and their stories about what happened there.

This project of the East Tennessee State University Retirees Association began as a means of recalling our memories of the institution where many gave many years of their professional lives.  In the course of getting it together, we interviewed as many as we could about their recollections.  We tried to contact as many as possible so that the story would be varied.  Yet, we realize that there is no way for us to completely capture the ethos of such an institution.  It is too large, too complex and was experienced by too many, each of whom saw it from a different perspective.  Our main purpose is to share the times when the institution was simpler and where more of its constituents affected each other’s lives.  It was to show that time when we had less space, were paid less and yet seemed to love our jobs more.  It was too much fun to miss a day's work even when we had more responsibility and more duties to perform.  We want those currently attached to East Tennessee State University and those who come in the future to understand how it was then.

Many have helped in compiling the stories: Joan Dressel, Tommy Copeland, Dorman Stout, and Frank Williams met at my home for an afternoon of recollections.  Dr. Howell Sherrod, his wife,Aliceand sister-in-law, Jean Sherrod (Mrs. Charles) recorded for me their experiences when Dr. C. C. Sherrod was the second president. Genie Dossett Matthews, Lucy McPherson Joan Dressel and I met at Lucy’s home and later on Lucy and I went to Genie’s summer home inMountain City to recall the times when Dr. Burgin Dossett was president.  Genie sent me the poignant recollections written by her son, Buck.  In my opinion, they are the most moving parts of this book.  Louise McBee recalled experiences when she was a student.  She would go on to be Dean of Women, later moving to the same position at the University of Georgia and finally becoming the Interim Academic Vice President, the highest academic position on the campus.  Dr. Charles (Ed) Allen was asked particularly to recall the beginnings of the medical school and Dr. Charles Votaw, retired Academic Dean of the Quillen College of Medicine, was asked for stories or events that occurred during his long tenure there. 

ETSURA President Dorman Stout appointed a committee to help made up of Joan Dressel, Jerry Hilliard, Laveta Ligon, Ambrose and Mary Manning, and  Jack Mooney in January 2002.  As Chair of the Committee, I accept responsibility for any errors and misinterpretations.  It has been fun as well as a privilege to work on this project.

Willene Paxton, Ed.D


Accent August 23, 2002 - Mr. Tom Carson, Dean Burleson, Mr. W. Flinn Rogers, Dr. Dorman Stout, Sr.,

Accent August 30, 2002 - Dr. Charles C. Sherrod

Accent October 14, 2002 - Miss Grace Leab

Accent November 4, 2002 - Dr. Lester Hartsell, Miss Meredith

Accent December 10, 2002 - Dr. George Dove

Accent February 10, 2003 and March 18, 2003 - Dr. Louise McBee

Accent June 18, 2003 -  Ms. Margaret Stewart, Dr. Frank Williams

Accent July 15, 2003 - Dr. Willene Paxton

Accent September 8, 2003 - Mrs. Martha Culp, Mr. John Cathey

Accent October 13, 2003 - Dr. William Fisher, Dr. Barbara Humphrys

Accent November 24, 2003 and December 12, 2003 - The University's Underground Publications

Accent January 28, 2004 - Mrs. Martha Culp's daylilies

Accent March 15, 2004 - D. P. Culp remembered fondly for his enthusiastic support of its athletic teams.

Accent April 23, 2004 - Campus Name Origins - Clack-Vanhoy Chiller Plant

Accent May 21, 2004 - Dr. Frank B. Williams, Jr.

Accent July 1, 2004 - Tommy Copeland and his airplane

Accent August 23 and October 4, 2004 - Recollections of Burgin E. Dossett

Accent December 15, 2004 - Tales told by Anna and Robert Lacey

Accent May 20, 2005 - Carter Hall

Accent July 12, 2005 - Yoakley Hall

Accent December 9, 2005 - Taylor Hall

Accent February 16, 2006 - Powell Hall

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