Just as East Tennessee State University begins to wind down its centennial celebration, the Alumni Association is kicking off the 14th annual ETSU Pride Week called “Imagine the next 100 years.” Filled with special events, ETSU apparel and the famed ETSU Pride signs, the week serves as a celebration for students and the community.
“It’s become sort of a promotional program for the university, but takes on different characters,” said Robert Plummer, associate vice president of university advancement and executive director of the ETSU Alumni Association. “It’s a welcome for students and parents who are returning to Johnson City or coming for the first time, and it’s a send-off for those students who live in the surrounding communities and will be coming here.”
Even though the event is geared toward the students, Plummer says it’s also a reminder of a change in landscape. The areas of State of Franklin Road and University Parkway will be more congested with the addition of students who will have ETSU Pride Move-in Day on Thursday and a Welcome Back Picnic on Tuesday.
ETSU Pride events take place not only on campus, but in nearby areas. On Friday, the ETSU Pride Bluegrass Band will perform on Broad Street in Kingsport at 7 p.m. and anyone can get $1 off admission to the Appalachian Fair in Gray from 3-8 p.m. if wearing ETSU apparel. Several local baseball games also will be free for students and those wearing ETSU gear on Monday.
All in all, Plummer looks for community support in showing students and parents that the Tri-Cities is a great place to be.
“I hope people will dust off those old ETSU Pride signs and put them outside or in the window,” he said. “We want to encourage people to think about what we do to make this a good community and good place for students to learn and prepare for the rest of their lives.”
The 2011 Pride Week, in particular, is a significant event. Other than the 100th anniversary of the school, it will be the last for President Paul E. Stanton Jr., who will retire in January. Plus, the oldest documented living person at 114 years old, Besse Cooper, graduated from what was East Tennessee State Normal School in 1916.
“Anytime you have a change in the top leader, it’s time for reflection,” Plummer said. “There’s a lot to celebrate in our first century. It’s a unique opportunity to have one of the oldest living persons as an alumnus.”
In October the school will end one milestone and look toward another.
“Now we’re turning our sights in other directions and looking forward,” Plummer said. “It’s hard to put into perspective all the things that have happened since 1911 when 29 people crossed the threshold to start the normal school. Can you imagine what the next 100 years will be like?”
For more information about ETSU Pride Week, visit www.etsu.edu/alumni/events/prideweek.aspx.