Incoming East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland seems to have the support of students, and also some work to do on their behalf when he takes over next week.
The spring 2012 semester at ETSU began Thursday. Noland, who was named president in November, will officially succeed Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. as the ninth president of ETSU Sunday. His first full day in office will be Tuesday.
Gabriel Bolling, a junior majoring in social work, thought Noland would make a good president, because he appeared very knowledgeable about ETSU during his interview process.
“I think he’s going to be a really, really good president,” Bolling said.
Bolling also had high praise for Stanton and his guidance of the school over the years, which included overseeing an increase of students from around 12,000 to more than 15,000.
“And Stanton, he was awesome,” Bolling said. “Of course, he changed the school. He raised the student population by 3,000, so obviously he did a lot of good things for the school.”
Jesse Shelton, a graduate student studying history, said his knowledge of the presidential transition was limited, but he had an idea of what he wanted from Noland.
“I do know Dr. Stanton definitely put forth a lot of effort into having a more personal contact with the students,” Shelton said. “I met with him on a couple of different occasions. I know that he had a pretty active role in the student body government and I know that they greatly benefitted from that. So I hope Dr. Noland continues that legacy a little bit.”
Shelton said this was an exciting time for ETSU.
“We’re rapidly growing,” he said. “There’s a lot of new construction on campus. A lot of things are changing and to have the new president come in, I definitely think we’ll see some changes over the next year or so.”
Donte Brabson, a junior majoring in physical education, said he would like to see Noland increase diversity on campus.
“I know President Stanton, he did a lot to do that (increase diversity), and I feel that Brian Noland will be able to do a little bit more, so hopefully it’ll actually come together and he’ll be able to make big improvements,” Brabson said.
Noland is in his early 40s, and Brabson thought Noland’s youth was a plus for ETSU and students.
“I think that actually has a big role in it, too, just because since he’s younger, he probably actually can see what we can benefit from versus somebody older that probably doesn’t exactly know what would appeal to a lot of us,” Brabson said.
Montess Burt, a freshman mass communications major, has become involved in ETSU in the past semester and thinks the school has a lot of positive things going for it. He was aware a new president had been appointed, but did not know much about Stanton or Noland.
He will learn about Noland, though, he said.
“As far as me coming in as a freshman, with me not knowing the old president for the last 15 years, I guess it’ll be something new for me,” Burt said. “It’ll be a new president and I’ll get to know them and see who they are and see how they run the school.”
Kierra Askew, a junior majoring in nursing, said she wanted Noland to be like Stanton in his approach to students.
“I don’t really know much about Dr. Stanton, but I do know he’s a really cool guy,” Askew said. “If you see him on campus, he’s always willing to speak to you, sit down and eat lunch with you, just stuff like that, so he’s personable.”
Chelsea Reagan and Conner Brown, also both juniors in nursing, said it would be nice for Noland to encourage more student involvement on campus.
“There’s programs and things, but you don’t know too much about them, how to get involved in them,” Reagan said.
Brown said it would also be good to improve student advisement, because sometimes, she heard, it can done poorly, with students not getting the correct classes.
But as far as student involvement goes, Brown agreed with Reagan, especially with regard to ETSU basketball games, which she said are poorly attended by students.
“They really need to make (basketball games) more advertised and get more students going, because they’re fun and we have a good team,” Brown said.