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ETSU honors top donors, shows off arts programs at event

March 1st, 2014 8:41 am by Tony Casey

ETSU honors top donors, shows off arts programs at event

ETSU students Matthew Brickey, left, and Tatum Spears, right, perform for the crowd at the Distinguished President's Trust Dinner at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center Friday night. (Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)

KINGSPORT — When it comes to top-dollar donors for East Tennessee State University, the school’s policy is “the more, the merrier.”

Friday night’s Distinguished President’s Trust Dinner at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center featured many merry donors who gave large hunks of money to the school, and enjoyed a festive event to honor their generosity.

This year’s event was themed “Celebrating the Arts,” with the spotlight on many of the school’s different arts programs, from performing arts like opera, dance and piano, to sculpting and painting.

Tatum Spears, a senior at ETSU from Weber City, Va., studying vocal performance belted out a few numbers, including pieces from Tchaikovsky and “The Old Man and the Thief,” with accompaniment by fellow ETSU student Matthew Brickey’s piano playing.

Brickey, a Powell Scholar from Kingsport, and Spears are both beneficiaries of donations by those present at the dinner, said Jeff Anderson, interim vice president for University Advancement and president/CEO of the ETSU Foundation.

In total, Anderson said trust members have cumulatively given more than $208 million to the school, which includes planned and estate gifts.

“Your continued generosity and loyalty as alumni and friends have enabled ETSU to provide scholarships and educational encouragement for our students, and critically needed resources for our faculty, staff and new initiatives,” he told the gathering.

“The recognition of our new, as well as existing, Distinguished President’s Trust members is always a privilege for the university and the ETSU Foundation. We are always very pleased and truly honored to add these individuals, businesses and organizations to our trust membership. They will serve as sterling examples for all alumni and friends to follow in their annual giving and significant estate-planning gifts.”

With that, the highest level of donors of the more than 1,350 DPT contributors in all were brought onto the stage to receive a handshake and a plaque from ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland and D. Roger Kennedy, chairman of the ETSU Foundation Board of Directors. The room, filled with several hundred private-sector donors, all offered applause to each between dinner courses.

The crowd was presented with a highlight reel, made by the multimedia department, of all the arts programs at the university, including the success of Elizabethon’s own Justin Stanton, who recently won a Grammy with the group Snarky Puppy.

Miss Johnson City Blakely Bays performed with two members of the The Division of Theatre and Dance, Jessica Vest and Casey Crawford, for those in attendance, showing the wide range of the school’s arts program. Arts students Shai Perry and Becca Irwin were on hand at the pre-dinner reception to answer any questions about their involvement in the arts at ETSU as well as show off some of their ceramic tiles and crystallized glaze pieces.

The arts departments on campus, as well as many other university-wide programs, are put into motion because of the help of donors like those honored.

“East Tennessee State University is about transforming lives and dreaming bigger dreams, and the engagement and support from our Distinguished President’s Trust members and other donors help make that possible,” Noland said. “Through their generosity, these individuals allow ETSU to serve our students, our faculty and staff and our region at an ever-higher level.”

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