ETSU foundation flush with cash

Nathan Baker • May 16, 2014 at 11:10 AM

East Tennessee State University’s affiliated fundraising organization announced a record fund balance to its members Thursday and boasted nearing the two-thirds mark in its efforts to provide the college’s share of funding for the fine and performing arts center.

Jeff Anderson, CEO and President of the ETSU Foundation, said $10.2 million in donations this year put the organizations fund balance at $117.6 million, an all-time high.

The money raised by the Foundation is used to pay for scholarships and upcoming projects where a matching contribution from the college is required.

One of those projects is the $38 million fine and performing arts center leaders hope to locate just opposite campus adjacent to the city-owned Millennium Centre.

Former ETSU President Paul Stanton, tasked with leading the charge for the ETSU Arts Initiative to fund the 25 percent funding match required by the state, said the Foundation hopes to have all the money in-hand by the year’s end.

“Our $9.5 million is a huge goal,” Stanton told the foundation’s members. “I want you to know that we’re now two-thirds of the way along, we now have about $6 million, and we’re about to truly ramp up to get the last $3.5 million done in the next six to eight months.”

ETSU announced the project, which will include a large performance hall, a smaller recital space and classes for instruction, two years ago with hopes of receiving a funding commitment this year in the state’s budget, but the funding plan approved by the legislature was mostly bare of higher-education building projects.

Current President Brian Noland told foundation members he was disappointed that the state was unable to fund the project, but vowed that the college would be ready with designs, a location and funding by the next budget cycle.

“We will be ready at ETSU, and when the state makes funding available, I want to make sure we’re not passed over by another institution,” he said. “I truly hoped this year that we would be outside with shovels, turning dirt, but that didn’t happen.”

The college is currently negotiating with Johnson City to purchase the land next to the Millennium Centre, the favored location.

In the past few months, Noland said he and city leaders are working to ensure the Tennessee Board of Regents that pedestrian traffic and floodwater from the creek bounding the property can be properly managed.

ETSU also hopes to soon begin building an $18 million football stadium to house its rebooted football team.

Noland left the athletics progress out of his speech Thursday, but later said the university is waiting to see what effects the city’s recently completed floodwater mitigation project has on the low-lying areas of the campus before making a final decision on the stadium’s location.

In the meantime, support for the football program has been quietly collected in preparation for the official kickoff of the facility’s fundraising drive.

Follow Nathan Baker on Twitter @JCPressBaker. Like him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/jcpressbaker.

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