I attended East Tennessee State University between 1961 when I graduated from Science Hill High School until 1964 when I transferred to the University of Tennessee. It was during this time that the college officially became a university. I remember coming to campus early one morning and seeing that the large letters painted on the two powerhouse smokestacks had been changed from “ETSC” to “ETSU” (as noted in my column photo from the 1963 and 1964 annuals).
In 1909, Johnson City was awarded one of the three Normal Schools to be built in East, Middle and West Tennessee. It bore the name East Tennessee Normal School until 1925 when it became a college and was renamed the East Tennessee State Teachers College.
According to a February 1915 edition of The Comet, East Tennessee State Normal School issued a document titled “Bulletin #2,” an eight-page pamphlet prepared in the form of questions and answers. The headings were “What the Normal School Has,” “How the School Got Its Resources,” “What the School Needs,” “Terms of Admission,” “Administration,” “Courses and Certificates,” “Expenses and Accommodations,” “Spring Term 1915,” “Summer Term 1915” and “Twenty-Five Reasons Why the Teachers Should Attend the Normal School.”
Under the heading, “What the School Needs,” the most pressing needs were given as a dormitory for men, additional dormitory for women, agriculture and industrial arts building, larger faculty, library and physical training building.
The article stated that nearly every graduate of the Normal School was working in the country public schools of East Tennessee. Adding better-trained teachers to impart higher quality education to the students of the State of Tennessee was the fundamental reason that the school was built.
Among the 25 answers given to the question, “Why Should You Attend the East Tennessee State Normal School,” are the following:
“Because it is in the closest touch with the educational system in East Tennessee, is intimately acquainted with the needs of the public schools and is seeking in every way to meet them.”
“Because no other school in East Tennessee offers educational advantages comparable to those of the Normal School at the same cost.”
“Because the school is unable to supply with its graduates the demands made upon it for teachers.”
“Because new classes are organized each term to suit the needs of new students.”
“Because the school stands for better schoolhouses, better teaching, modern courses of study, better health, better homes and better living for East Tennessee and for the State.”
The Bulletin further showed that total resources of the Normal School on January 1, 1915 amounted to $286,000, of which the Honorable George L. Carter of Johnson City contributed $200,000. Each year since the establishment of the State Normal School, an extension week relating to agricultural and industrial subjects was observed on campus. This course brought together not only students and faculty of the Normal School, but many citizens from outside the institution of learning.
Annual external courses for the year were scheduled each afternoon at 1:10 from February 23 to February 27 in the school auditorium. All regular afternoon classes were dismissed to give the opportunity for all teachers to be present.