Bishop: Noland involved in ETSU decisions during recovery from crash injuries

Nathan Baker • Nov 26, 2013 at 11:45 AM

East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland was released from a local hospital Friday, but likely won’t return to his campus duties until December, while he recovers from injuries suffered in a vehicle crash last week, a college spokeswoman said Monday.

“President Noland was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon and is now recuperating at home,” a statement released by ETSU Chief of Staff Jane Jones said. “As his condition continues to improve, it is expected that he will begin the transition back to campus in early December as his rehabilitation process allows.”

The university president was listed in stable condition in the Johnson City Medical Center, but possessed a “full range of motion,” said a wide media statement from his office issued the day after the Nov. 18 collision at the intersection of West Watauga Avenue and West Market Street.

Noland’s only public comment since the accident came Thursday via his Twitter account, @ETSUPrez, where he expressed gratitude to the community for the support shown to him during his treatment.

In the president’s absence, administrative duties have fallen to ETSU Chief Operating Officer Wilsie Bishop, who has served as designated second in command since 2005, when she was hired under then-President Paul Stanton.

“When I got the call from Ms. Noland Monday night informing that Dr. Noland had been in an accident and he wanted me to take care of operations, I was dismayed that he was injured, but I wasn’t surprised that he wanted me to take over for him,” Bishop, who is also the school’s vice president for health affairs, said Monday.

Even though Noland was hospitalized most of last week, and is still recovering from his serious injuries, Bishop and other administrators have been communicating with the president daily through scheduled conference calls.

“We’re keeping him informed, and we’re not making any decisions that he’s not a part of,” Bishop said. “We’re moving ahead on the agenda items that we were already working on before his accident.”

Other than carrying out administrative duties when the two presidents she’s served were out of town, Bishop said she was asked to assume command during a medical emergency once before, when Stanton was involved in a lawn mower accident and was put under general anesthesia.

Some non-essential functions, like appearances at high school recruitment events, have been put off until Noland is in a better condition, Bishop said, but others, like deciding whether to cancel classes because of inclement weather, have been delegated to Bishop by Noland.

The crash happened around 5 p.m., as Noland was traveling north on West Watauga in a 2010 Acura MDX. A 1997 Freightliner F50 driven by Jackie L. White, Oak Dell Court, was traveling west on West Market and ran a red light, police said.

The truck, owned by Larry & Terry’s Inc. of Elizabethton, struck Noland’s vehicle as well as a tree and a sign at Carver Park. Noland’s SUV also struck a utility pole.

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