The next president of East Tennessee State University visited campus Monday with his wife and son and said he would devote all his energy to learning everything he can about the 100-year-old institution before beginning work in January.
Brian Noland will take over the presidency of ETSU in mid-January, succeeding Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr., who has been the school’s eighth leader for about 15 years.
“Today was originally conceived to just be a day to take care of some personal items with family,” said Noland, referring to his 6-year-old son, Jackson, and his wife, Donna. “Our most important thing today is just to provide an opportunity for us to visit some elementary schools for my son to take a look at his new home and for Donna and I to take a look at our new home.
“This is our son’s first chance to be on campus. We spent the morning looking at schools and we’re just very, very excited about our opportunity to become part of the community and become part of the ETSU family.”
The Nolands will make their home in Johnson City at Shelbridge, ETSU’s presidential residence located at the corner of Eleventh Avenue and North Roan Street.
“We’ve got some things back in West Virginia to settle up and we’ll move in to Shelbridge as soon as possible,” Noland said.
As he has stated in previous interviews, Noland said he has no immediate plans to change anything at ETSU, rather he wants to get as much information as possible about the school.
“I come in with no predetermined objectives, initiatives, things that I want to change,” he said. “In many respects, the biggest challenge that faces my family and I is that of walking in the shadow and with the legacy of President Paul Stanton, in my opinion one of the best college presidents in the United States.”
Noland did say he immediately wanted to learn more about what plans ETSU has in place to accommodate the Complete College Tennessee Act, which, among other things, funds Tennessee’s public colleges and universities based on graduation rates rather than enrollment numbers.
He also wants to learn more about the proposed dental school. A feasibility study on that project should be available soon.
And Noland also wants to learn more about salary equity plans for faculty and staff, a point that was repeatedly brought up in Noland’s interview process.
Asked directly about the possibility of football returning to ETSU, Noland said he needed to study the matter further.
“I can’t make a commitment at this point,” he said. “I think it would be a little early to do so, but we will put any idea on the table that advances East Tennessee State University.”
Noland acknowledged there was a lot of work to do before actually taking over the presidency of the school.
“My wife Donna and I have a lot of homework to do between now and the middle of January,” Noland said. “And when you interlace Thanksgiving, Christmas holidays and a couple other things that we had planned, it’s going to be a busy and eventful next month and a half.”
Despite his busy schedule, Noland said he plans to return multiple times to Johnson City before beginning work in January.
“I intend to work very closely with President Stanton and his staff during this transition,” Noland said.