Now in its 18th year, ETSU PRIDE will be observed Aug. 20 through Sept. 3 on campus for students, but executive director of the university’s National Alumni Association Robert Plummer said the region has been hosting events all month, and will conclude with a football game Sept. 3.
The main goal of ETSU PRIDE, Plummer said, is to raise awareness for the university in the region, and to make new students and their families feel welcome on campus. While Johnson City and surrounding counties like Carter, Unicoi and Sullivan feed thousands of students into the university each year, Plummer said the goal has shifted toward reaching communities farther out in the region like Abingdon, Virginia, and Greeneville.
“It's pretty interesting to look at ETSU on a day to day basis,” he said. “Everyone thinks about the Johnson City campus, but we have so many things going on throughout the region.”
The past 10 years or so, Plummer said the heat has been on for ETSU PRIDE to establish a presence in the region. But the revamped football program and the programs that come with it, like the marching band, will help bring more students and propel the Buccaneers into the community, Plummer said. While the football program will attract a higher number of students, Plummer said the work for ETSU PRIDE is far from over.
“We try to highlight the entire university and not just the athletic program,” he said, adding, “It brings with it a lot of students who may not have been involved in those ways. It's a great opportunity for us.”
Teaming up with the Chamber of Commerce during the first week of classes, ETSU PRIDE brings in different businesses in the community to create a community showcase in the middle of campus. Businesses like Kroger and Food City give out free lunches along with about 50 other businesses from the region as a chance to introduce them to the students.
In addition to serving current students at the university, Plummer added another reason for PRIDE week is to highlight the university’s other facets, like the colleges of medicine and pharmacy. He said that so many community members are unaware of ETSU’s footprint in the community, and PRIDE week helps to highlight those accomplishments.
“ETSU is far more diverse than people realize,” Plummer said. “There's so many things that are happening, and a lot of things go back to (President Brian) Noland and his vision for the university.”
Other activities for PRIDE week include PRIDE night at the Elizabethton Twins baseball game Aug. 27, PRIDE day at the Appalachian Fair on Aug. 28 and Squonk Opera in Founders Park on Aug. 28-29. A full list of activities for ETSU PRIDE week can be found at www.etsualumni.org.
Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected]. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.