GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association

 
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
SUMMER 2019

GAVIN ON
SURVIVOR
ETSU GRAD REALIZES
LIFELONG DREAM
TO COMPETE ON
POPULAR SHOW

  A New Campaign     Strength in Community   Surrounded by Culture
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
Summer 2019
ETSU President
                              2       A New Campaign
                                      for ETSU Begins
                                      Leaders unveiled a campaign
                                                                      16   Gavin on Survivor
                                                                           ETSU grad realizes
                                                                           lifelong dream to compete
Brian Noland                          that will set the course for         on popular show
                                      transformative future at ETSU

                                                                      21
Executive Editor
Fred Sauceman                                                              Strength in Community

Managing Editor
Joe Smith
                              6       From Massive Galaxies
                                      to Miniscule Neutrons
                                      Reflecting on the broad scope
                                                                           ETSU addresses the
                                                                           opioid crisis

Advancement/Alumni Editors
Pamela Ritter
Bob Plummer
                                      of the Department of Physics
                                      and Astronomy at ETSU           34   Surrounded by Culture
                                                                           ETSU Grad Finds New Path
                                                                           in Hungary

Contributing Writers
Kevin Brown                       1   The President’s Perspective      30 No Push-ups Required
Karen Crigger
Lee Ann Davis
                                  5   New Theatre Named                32 Treasures
David Driver                          in Honor of Bach                 33 Guidance for Graduates
Mike Ezekiel                      10 Who’s Teaching at ETSU?
Jennifer Hill                                                          36 Daniel Sweeney:
Amanda Mowell                     12 Who’s Going to ETSU?                 A Diamond in the Rough
Melissa Nipper
                                  14 Matthew Hill’s Experience         39 Benavia Jenkins Joins
Brian Noland
Cyndi Ramsey                         Nets Leadership Role in              the ETSU Family as
Randy Sanders                        Tennessee House                      Head Volleyball Coach
Fred Sauceman
                                  18 Millennium Center Officially      40 2019 Football Schedule
Joe Smith
                                     Under New Ownership               42 ETSU National Alumni
Graphic Design                    20 Introducing ETSU Health              Association Presents
Jeanette Henry
                                  23 One of Our Own                       2019 Alumni Awards
Photographic Services                                                  45 Class Notes
Ron Campbell                      26 Dateline: ETSU
Dakota Hamilton                   28 A Johnson City                    47 Obituaries
Larry Smith
Charlie Warden
                                     Sesquicentennial
                                     Spotlight on a Beloved
COVER PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS          ETSU Professor
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE

                          Throughout our history, our alumni, donors, students, faculty, and staff have campaigned
                          for East Tennessee State University.

                          In fact, it was a campaign for improved public schools in Tennessee that led to the
                          creation of East Tennessee State Normal School in 1911. During the Great Depression,
                          President Charles Sherrod campaigned to keep the doors of the institution open. There
                          were many missed paydays in the early 1930s. Revenues were dwindling. Appropriations
                          were being reduced. In late December of 1932, Dr. Sherrod read in a Nashville newspaper
                          that a senator was introducing a legislative bill that would abolish the teachers colleges.
                          He began a campaign to show the value of those colleges to the state, citing figures on
                          financing, qualifications of faculty, supply of teachers, and cost of attendance. Eventually
                          the bill was killed. But the idea did not die. In 1936, the legislature debated closing the
                          school and called it an “unnecessary luxury.” Dr. Sherrod fought tirelessly to keep the
                          school open, even refusing increases in his own salary for several years.

                          Another campaign some of you may not have heard about is the one for us to achieve
                          university status. Burgin Dossett was President of East Tennessee State College when the
                          push was made for the school to be recognized as a university. When this proposal was
                          met with opposition, President Dossett marshaled civic leaders, service and professional
                          groups, political leaders, school boards, owners of television and radio stations, editors,
                          and publishers to join the campaign. He prepared a booklet filled with statistics on
                          population and economic and industrial growth. Students and citizens wrote letters,
                          signed petitions, and visited Nashville. The legislation to make ETSC ETSU passed both
                          the House and Senate unanimously, and Governor Frank Clement signed the bill on
                          March 5, 1963.

                          Many other campaigns stand out in our history books. A movement during the early
                          1990s to establish an honors enrichment experience for undergraduate students led to the
                          creation of the Honors Program, which began in 1993 with four students. A decade later,
                          the program expanded to become an Honors College which, during the 2017-18 year, had
                          460 students enrolled in its programs. One of the most dramatic chapters in Tennessee
                          politics was a campaign that resulted in the authorization of a medical school for ETSU in
                          1974. Campaigns led by our students helped bridge the return of football to our campus
                          and also became the foundation for the renovation of the D.P. Culp University Center,
                          which is currently underway. And, of course, there is the landmark campaign in 2005
                          when our community raised $5 million in just 58 days to start our pharmacy school.

                          And now, a new campaign has begun. During our Distinguished President’s Trust Dinner
                          this past April, we launched the Campaign for ETSU, a $120 million capital campaign that
                          will transform our campus. Significant support for our students and faculty as well as for
                          facilities, research, and for new and current academic programs will propel us toward our
                          strategic goals and position our university as a destination for students seeking premier
                          education to prepare for the careers of tomorrow.

                          I invite you to join us for the Campaign for ETSU and help write the next chapter in our
                          institution’s history. Thank you for all that you do for East Tennessee State University!

                          Sincerely,

                          Brian Noland
                          President

                          Godspeed and Go Bucs!

                                                                                                        SUMMER 2019 x 1
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
A NEW
                 On the evening when ETSU recognized its top donors for their past
                 contributions to the institution, leaders unveiled a campaign that
                 will set the course for what promises to be a transformative future.

   CAMPAIGN
                 During the Distinguished President’s Trust Dinner on
                 April 12, President Brian Noland and Lieutenant General Ron Hite
                 (U.S. Army, Retired), Chairman of the ETSU Foundation, launched
                 the Campaign for ETSU, a $120 million comprehensive campaign
                 that, according to Noland, will transform the campus and provide

   FOR ETSU
                 new opportunities for students and faculty.

                 “Campaigns have been part of this institution’s history, going
                 back to the days when our doors first opened in 1911,” Noland

   BEGINS
                 told the guests. “People campaigned for ETSU because they
                 believed in this institution and because they believed in our
                 mission, a mission to improve the quality of life for the people
                 of this region.”

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GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
Among those most notable campaigns
Noland referenced were the push for the
creation of the Gatton College of Pharmacy,
the name change from East Tennessee State
College to ETSU, the return of football to
campus, the construction of a performing
arts center, and the landmark establishment
of the Quillen College of Medicine.

A significant priority of the Campaign for
ETSU is to create more opportunities to
assist students, with a goal of raising
$21 million in scholarships and other types
of support.
                                                PROGRAMS                         FACULTY
“This is necessary in order for the
institution to recruit and retain the best
and brightest undergraduate and graduate

                                                    OUR PRIORITIES
students,” Hite said. “Support from our
donors is needed to establish and enhance
competitive scholarships, study abroad
experiences, and graduate student stipends,

                                                                                          $23.5M
and also make participation at major
academic conferences possible.”
                                                       $35M                               FOR FACULTY
During the dinner, guests heard from Mollie            FOR PROGRAMS
Rutledge, a 2014 graduate of ETSU’s Roan
Scholars Leadership Program, who discussed
how the program did more than just
prepare her to become a teacher but rather
transformed her life. The Roan Program is
a comprehensive leadership development

                                                $21M
experience established by longtime
university benefactor Louis Gump. Since                               Campaign for ETSU
the establishment of the program in 2000,
                                                FOR STUDENTS          FUNDING GOALS

                                                                       $120M
nearly 100 ETSU students have participated.

“You have no idea how your gifts can
change the lives of our students,” Rutledge
told the guests.

                                                                                                   $40.5M
Another major goal of the campaign is to
raise $40 million for future building and
renovation projects. This initiative includes                                                      FOR FACILITIES
securing the necessary matching dollars for
a proposed $71 million humanities building
that would be built in the center of campus.

Current major projects on campus include
the renovation of the D.P. Culp University
Center, which is being funded through a
dedicated student fee, and the construction
of the Martin Center for the Arts. Both are
expected to be completed in 2020.

“Faculty are also at the heart of the
Campaign for ETSU,” said Pam Ritter, Vice
President for Advancement and President/
CEO of the ETSU Foundation. “The minds
and lives of tomorrow’s leaders are shaped
and influenced by our faculty who, through
their teaching and research, are sharing new
knowledge and building new ideas.”              STUDENTS                         FACILITIES

                                                                                                    SUMMER 2019 x 3
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
Dr. Ron Roach, Chair of the         The Campaign for ETSU will also raise
  CAMPAIGNS HAVE                                      Department of Appalachian
                                                      Studies, shared with the
                                                                                          approximately $35 million in support for
                                                                                          new academic programs that are aligned
  BEEN PART OF THIS                                   audience how donor support          with emerging job market demands.

  INSTITUTION’S HISTORY,                              has positioned ETSU as a
                                                      destination campus in the           Though the Distinguished President’s
  GOING BACK TO THE DAYS                              field of Appalachian studies,
                                                      particularly in the Bluegrass,
                                                                                          Trust Dinner marked the official launch
                                                                                          of the campaign, a silent phase began two
  WHEN OUR DOORS FIRST                                Old-Time, and Country Music         years ago, Noland announced. Already, the
                                                      Studies program.                    university has raised over $50 million.
  OPENED IN 1911.
                                                       ETSU was the first university in   “Every person in this room has campaigned
  ETSU President Brian Noland                          the nation to offer a bachelor’s   for ETSU in some way and, in doing so,
                                                       degree in Bluegrass, Old-Time,     you have carried forth a legacy that began
                                                       and Country Music Studies. The     more than a century ago,” Noland said.
According to Ritter, the campaign has     program has attracted students and faculty      “The Campaign for ETSU is our
a specific goal of $23 million that       from around the world. These individuals        opportunity to script the future of East
would be used to empower faculty          have captured hundreds of nominations and       Tennessee State University, and tonight,
through opportunities such as             awards from major music organizations,          that next chapter begins.”
distinguished professorships and chairs   including the International Bluegrass Music
and new endowments.                       Association and the Grammys.
                                                                                          Joe Smith is Executive Assistant to the
                                                                                          President for University Relations and Chief
                                                                                          Communications Officer at ETSU.

4 x ETSU TODAY
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
NEW THEATRE NAMED
IN HONOR OF BACH

In addition to launching ETSU’s new comprehensive campaign,                Bach’s presence in higher education extends beyond Tennessee. He
President Noland used the Distinguished President’s Trust event as         has served with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
the setting to recognize one of Tennessee’s most respected leaders         Commission on Colleges and the Southern Regional Education Board,
in higher education.                                                       as well as with the Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee Higher
                                                                           Education Commission, and Tennessee College Association.
Longtime ETSU administrator Dr. Bert C. Bach has announced his
plans to retire in January 2020 following 43 years of service in           Noland announced that the new theatre in the Martin Center for the
Tennessee higher education. Bach most recently served as Provost           Arts will be named the Bert C. Bach Theatre.
and Vice President for Academic Affairs at ETSU, a role he held since
1994. He served as Interim President of ETSU from 1991-92.                 “Dr. Bach is known for many things, including a love for baseball
                                                                           and as a profound supporter for the arts, especially theatre,” Noland
“Without a doubt, Dr. Bach stands as one of Tennessee’s greatest and       said. “Though his love for the performing arts often takes Dr. Bach
most respected leaders in higher education,” Noland said. “From the        to theatres in New York City and London, he never misses an ETSU
moment he arrived on this campus in the early 1990s, he has had a          Theatre and Dance production, which our students and faculty deeply
profound influence on our academic programs as well as our student         appreciate. He has developed and supported academic scholarships
success initiatives. He has been a true champion for East Tennessee        for Theatre and Dance students, and this act of generosity has already
State University, and we are fortunate that he chose this institution as   dramatically changed the lives of so many students.”
his academic home for more than two decades.”

                                                                                                                               SUMMER 2019 x 5
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
FROM
MASSIVE
GALAXIES TO
MINISCULE NEUTRONS
A VETERAN FACULTY MEMBER AND A NEWCOMER
REFLECT ON THE BROAD SCOPE OF
THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS                                   Dr. Beverly Smith
AND ASTRONOMY AT ETSU

PHOTO BY RON CAMPBELL

                                                            Galaxies move around in space. They
                                  Dr. Robert Pattie         interact and collide. They get distorted
                                                            by gravitational forces and occasionally
                                                            produce other galaxies. Little bits and
                                                            pieces can fly out into intergalactic space,
                                                            and they might become other independent
                                                            galaxies. Around our Milky Way are a
                                                            couple of dozen small galaxies. Maybe they
                                                            were produced by just this kind of process.
                                                            Or maybe they have been around since the
                                                            beginning of the universe.

                                                            This isn’t a monologue from a science
                                                            fiction film. It’s the kind of talk you’re
                                                            likely to hear in the classrooms of Brown
                                                            Hall on the campus of East Tennessee
                                                            State University.

                                                            Dr. Beverly Smith is an ETSU astrophysicist
                                                            who researches the formation of dwarf
                                                            galaxies, and she is part of an energetic
                                                            academic organization, the university’s
                                                            Department of Physics and Astronomy.
                                                            She has taught at ETSU for almost 20 years.

                                     PHOTO BY LARRY SMITH

6 x ETSU TODAY
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
“It’s very unusual to have so much          DR. SMITH SPEARHEADED                                            Here I began research that
astronomy work going on at a                                                                                 culminated in a yearlong honors
regional university,” Smith said.           THE CREATION OF ETSU’S                                           thesis project on the hot gas
“One year, we had 17 students who
graduated with physics degrees.”            NEW STEM COMMUNITY                                               around a young class O star,
                                                                                                             and Dr. Smith and Dr. Giroux

In 2015, the department was
                                            OUTREACH SCHOLARSHIP                                             were close mentors of mine.
                                                                                                             This research taught me how to
recognized by the American                  PROGRAM, NICELY                                                  analyze data graphically.”
Institute of Physics for being a
leader among undergraduate-                 DOVETAILING TWO HIGH                                             Another of Smith’s students,
only physics departments in
the number of students who
                                            PRIORITIES OF OUR                                                Amanda Moffett, went on to earn
                                                                                                             a Ph.D. at the University of North
graduated with B.S. degrees
in Physics.
                                            DEPARTMENT.                                                      Carolina in Chapel Hill and is
                                                                                                             now a post-doctoral researcher at
                                                                                                             Vanderbilt University.
Several years before Smith’s
                                            Dr. Don Luttermoser, Chair of the
arrival, ETSU joined the                    Department of Physics and Astronomy                              “She is working on galaxies,
Southeastern Association for                                                                                 too,” Smith says with a smile.
Research in Astronomy (SARA),                                                                                “She made perfect grades at
which operates a 0.9-meter                                                                                   ETSU, including our large intro
telescope at Kitt Peak National                                                                              class. When I discovered she
Observatory in Arizona. From                     Austin, Texas, when Giroux was a graduate        was the person getting all those 100s,
then on, the university’s reputation in          student and Smith a post-doctoral researcher     I zeroed in on her.”
astronomy grew.                                  at the University of Texas.
                                                                                                  Smith has mentored many women over
ETSU runs its own observatory, named for         “What do two married astrophysicists talk        the years, guiding them toward STEM
Dr. Harry D. Powell, a longtime physics          about at the dinner table?” I ask Smith. “We     (Science, Technology, Engineering, and
professor at the university. It is the site of   talk about advising the physics majors,” she     Mathematics) careers. For the first time this
popular “Star Parties,” begun by ETSU’s          answers without hesitation.                      semester, a course she developed, “Women
Dr. Gary Henson to bring the community                                                            in Astronomy,” has been officially added to
to the campus to explore the heavens.            Not only is Smith married to someone who         the curriculum.
The observatory houses a radio telescope         makes a living in the academic world, she is
purchased with the aid of a NASA Education       the daughter of two university mathematics       “I don’t know of another school that focuses
Public Outreach Grant. Middle and high           professors, who taught at the University of      on women in astronomy,” she adds. And
school teachers use it for workshops, and        Tennessee and the University of Connecticut.     men make up about half the enrollment in
high school students from throughout the         With their encouragement and the                 the course.
region gaze through its lens.                    inspiration provided by a very special high
                                                 school teacher, she chose to enter the male-     “Dr. Smith spearheaded the creation of
Smith said it’s that kind of public outreach     dominated field of physics.                      ETSU’s new STEM Community Outreach
that attracted her to ETSU and that has                                                           Scholarship Program, nicely dovetailing
kept her here for nearly two decades. “And       “My experience made me realize just how          two high priorities of our department,”
the region is so wonderful and beautiful,”       important high school teachers are,” she said,   adds Luttermoser.
she adds.                                        pointing to recent ETSU graduates such as
                                                 Rachel Horn, who is on the physics faculty       Smith takes me across the hall to the office
Dr. Don Luttermoser, Chair of the                at Daniel Boone High School. Having also         of Dr. Robert Pattie, the newest member of
Department of Physics and Astronomy,             earned a Master of Arts in Teaching, Horn is     the Physics and Astronomy faculty at ETSU.
describes ETSU as “a leader in broad             an evening instructor for ETSU’s astronomy       I learn that Pattie had worked at the U.S.
community outreach communicating                 labs as well.                                    Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National
physics and astronomy with open houses,                                                           Laboratory in New Mexico. That relationship
planetarium shows, public talks, popular         Horn says the course “Variable Stars,” taught    has resulted in a first-ever collaboration
newspaper articles, and leadership in            by Henson, was her first experience with real    between ETSU and the Los Alamos Neutron
regional grade school and high school            scientific research.                             Science Center.
student science events like science fairs and
the Science Olympiad.”                           “After that, I worked closely with Dr. Smith,    “We’re actually building equipment for Los
                                                 cataloguing and filtering stars from a           Alamos here at ETSU,” Pattie says, “and one
There are more astronomers and                   NASA infrared telescope,” Horn said. “This       of our undergraduates, Isaiah Cox, will be
astrophysicists at ETSU than any university      experience, along with Dr. Luttermoser’s         working there this summer.”
in the Southeastern United States. One of        ‘Computational Physics’ class, greatly
them is Dr. Mark Giroux, who is married          increased my technology and computer             On the day of our interview, Los Alamos had
to Smith. They’re often seen strolling the       programming skills. The following summer         just sent to the ETSU Department of Physics
campus, hand in hand. Smith and Giroux           I was awarded a two-month paid research          and Astronomy a new data acquisitions
both attended Brown University but did not       experience at Dr. Richard Ignace’s alma          system, consisting of some $50,000 worth
know each other at the time. They met in         mater, the University of Wisconsin, Madison.     of electronics.

                                                                                                                             SUMMER 2019 x 7
GAVIN ON SURVIVOR - SUMMER 2019 - ETSU Alumni Association
WE’RE ACTUALLY BUILDING
                                                                             EQUIPMENT FOR LOS
                                                                             ALAMOS HERE AT ETSU.
                                                                             Dr. Robert Pattie

                                                                         that we can smash       another defining part of Robert Pattie’s life:
                                                                         into tungsten.          his military service.
                                                                         When that happens,
                                                                         you boil off a bunch    During his sophomore year at Virginia Tech,
                                                                         of neutrons. You        he joined the Marine Corps Reserves—
                                                                         basically liberate      specifically the 4th Combat Engineers
                                                                         neutrons. But           Battalion operating out of Roanoke, where
                                                                         they’re really high     he learned to be a heavy equipment operator.
                                                                         energy—the same         He loved the experience so much that he
                                                                         neutrons that you       continued to commute to Roanoke while
                                                                         would make in           working on his doctorate at North Carolina
                                                                         a nuclear power         State University.
                                                                         plant. We cool them
                                                                         down so they can’t
                                                                         get out of materials.
                                                                         They bounce
                                                                         around in tubes like
                                                                         ping-pong balls.
                                                                         And then we can
                                                                         transport them off
                                                                         to an experiment,
                                                                         where we do things
                                                                         like measure the
                                                                         neutron lifetime—
                                                                         how long it lives

                                                                                                                                                  PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
 PHOTO BY LARRY SMITH
                                                                         before it breaks up.”

As an experimental nuclear physicist, Pattie    Pattie had never taken a physics class
brings to the department valuable expertise     before he enrolled at North Carolina’s
in the field of particle physics, a branch of   Surry Community College, where he was a
the discipline that studies the elementary      catcher on the baseball team. Although he
constituents of matter and radiation and        didn’t continue his baseball career when         In 2005, during his second year in Raleigh,
the interactions between them. As Pattie        he transferred to Virginia Tech to major in      he began a nine-month deployment to Anbar
describes it, he is working “on the boundary    physics, the sport figures into his physics      Province in Iraq.
of nuclear and particle physics.”               classes at ETSU.
                                                                                                 “We had a lot of interaction with the Iraqis,”
The Los Alamos Neutron Science Center has       His students consider a baseball hit at          he says. “They wanted to be safe, they wanted
been in existence for more than 30 years.       a certain angle and with a certain initial       electric power, food, water, and to make sure
According to its website, it provides “the      velocity. “Does it get over the fence at         their children were taken care of. The country
scientific underpinnings in nuclear physics     Fenway Park?” Pattie asks. Or, “If a pitch is    was in such disarray. When the power went
and material science needed to ensure the       thrown with this angular velocity and this       out, citizens didn’t know where to turn. They
safety and surety of the nuclear stockpile      speed at this height, where is it going to       saw guys in green uniforms with guns and
into the future.” In addition, the center       end up when it hits the strike zone?” asks       assumed we were the ones who could take
provides “the scientific community with         the Baltimore Orioles fan, who admits            care of getting their power restored. They
intense sources of neutrons and protons to      watching his team of late with a certain         were used to the kind of society where strong
perform experiments supporting civilian         amount of depression.                            men with guns control everything.”
research and the production of medical and
research isotopes.”                             On the wall of Pattie’s office is an unusual     Pattie says the Marine Corps prepared him
                                                Periodic Table of the Elements, organized        very well for the experience in Iraq. “They
Pattie explains that his work involves the      differently than the ones posted in              gave us a huge amount of information,” he
Ultracold Neutron source at Los Alamos.         American classrooms. In the margins there        says. “They even gave us a reading list, with
“There is a high-powered proton accelerator     is writing in Arabic. It’s a reminder of         books about Arab culture.”

8 x ETSU TODAY
PHOTO BY RON CAMPBELL

                                                               Pattie says his time in the         Foundation’s Noyce program, as well as
                                             PHOTO BY HANNAH
                                                    HAWORTH    Marine Corps figures into his       private funding for our undergraduate
                                                               approach to teaching physics,       majors through LEAP (Learning Experiences
                                                               especially when it comes to         in Astronomy and Physics) Foundation
                                                               outlining expectations for first-   scholarships,” Luttermoser adds with pride.
                                                               year students. “The Marine
                                                               Corps teaching style is to focus    Daniel Boone High School’s Rachel Horn
                                                               on objectives,” he says.            summarizes graduates’ feelings about how
                                                                                                   this dynamic department on the ETSU
                                                               Luttermoser says the addition       campus is shaping their future: “I am
                                                               of Pattie “substantially            forever grateful for my experience as an
                                                               broadened the department’s          undergraduate student in the Department
                                                               research interests,” pointing       of Physics and Astronomy, and I share my
                                                               to his national connections at      enthusiasm for scientific endeavors every day
                                                               both Los Alamos and the Oak         that I am teaching in my high school physics
                                                               Ridge National Laboratory           and astronomy classes.”
                                                               in Tennessee.

                                                               “And we continue to pursue          Fred Sauceman holds B.A. and M.A.
                                                               and obtain public funding           degrees from ETSU and is Executive Editor
                                                               through NASA’s Space Grant          of ETSU Today.
       Rachel Horn, Daniel Boone High School.                  and the National Science

Destinations and Careers of Some Recent ETSU Physics Graduates:
   • Second Lieutenant, United States Army        • Graduate Student in Physics,                    • Physics teacher, Cherokee High School,
                                                    Vanderbilt University                             Rogersville, Tennessee
   • Medical Student at the
     University of Tennessee                      • Graduate student in Medical Physics at          • Graduate Student in Physics,
                                                    the University of Wisconsin-Madison               Clemson University
   • Nuclear Operator at BWX Technologies
                                                  • Graduate student in Chemical                    • Graduate Student at the University
   • Medical Student at ETSU’s Quillen
                                                    Engineering, Northeastern University              of Tennessee and Oak Ridge
     College of Medicine
                                                                                                      National Laboratory
                                                  • Graduate Student in the Physics
   • Graduate Student in Physics,
                                                    and Astronomy Department,                       • Employed at Eastman
     University of Florida
                                                    Florida State University                          Chemical Company
   • Physics and chemistry teacher,
                                                  • Graduate Student in Mathematics,                • Graduate Student in Physics,
     Science Hill High School
                                                    Clemson University                                Texas A&M University
   • Graduate student in Physics at the
                                                  • Graduate Student in Engineering,                • Graduate student in Medical Physics
     University of Tennessee
                                                    Georgia Tech                                      at the University of Toledo
   • Employed at Integrity Applications
                                                                                                                              SUMMER 2019 x 9
WHO’S TEACHING AT ETSU?

10 x ETSU TODAY
ETSU PROFESSOR
                          CREATES THRIVING
                          ONLINE COMMUNITIES
                          Dr. Kelly Price-Rhea can see beyond the           recording instead of typed text. She begins
                          horizon of academia.                              her courses by posting an intro video that
                                                                            seems more like a social media post and less
                          Her aspirations are not bound by the limits       like a typical college lecture.
                          of physical, traditional classroom space.
                          She envisions an evolving digital learning        “It is so rewarding to watch students from
                          environment. Since 2013, Price, Associate         across the country interact in the digital
                          Professor of Marketing, has taught almost         learning environment where they can
                          entirely online. An experience that was first     cultivate understanding and evaluate other
                          overwhelming has become a fascination.            perspectives and experiences,” she explained.

                          “I view the interactions that happen in           Price is deeply connected to both the digital
                          the online classroom from a psychology            and tangible versions of the ETSU campus.
                          standpoint, and while those interactions are      She is a two-time alumna of the university,
                          different, there are things we as instructors     and both her parents earned degrees from
                          can do to ‘be there.’ A lot of my research        ETSU. Price graduated with a bachelor’s
                          focuses on professor presence,” she says.         degree in Fashion Merchandising in 1995
                                                                            and worked as an apparel buyer. Feeling
                          Price taught on ground for 10 years before        a bit burned out from the retail business,
                          she was asked to help build a new graduate        she came home to ETSU to study
                          program focused on an emerging career             professional communications.
                          field, Digital Marketing. Given the nature
                          of the subject matter, it made sense for the      Looking back, Price says it was a big
                          program to be offered entirely online. Price      decision to leave her professional life in
                          admits she was hesitant at first but has since    Colorado behind, but studying at ETSU was
                          come to realize that online courses are the       meant to be.
                          future of higher education and argues that
                          she actually gets to know her online students     “I took a research class and I remember
                          much better.                                      exactly where I was sitting in Warf-Pickel
                                                                            Hall when I realized that I never wanted to
                          “When I taught on ground courses and had          leave academia,” she recalls.
                          more than 100 students, I didn’t have the
                          opportunity to see them in the same way I         A short time after completing her Ph.D.
                          do online. I saw them a couple times a week.      in Human Ecology with a concentration
                          Online, I interact with everyone all the time.”   in Retail and Consumer Sciences at the
                                                                            University of Tennessee, she eagerly
                          She and colleague Dr. Don Shemwell,               accepted an adjunct teaching position at
                          Professor of Marketing, built the Digital         ETSU and says she has no regrets about
                          Marketing program from the ground up.             returning to her roots.
                          The discipline is always changing, so the
                          curriculum must adjust to reflect the latest      In addition to professor presence, Price
                          trends and tools available. While Price, who      actively researches consumer behavior and
                          coordinates the program, might not be able        is planning a new digital marketing ethics
                          to reuse materials she developed the previous     course. She also teaches a social media
                          semester, that’s part of what she claims to       course and when she’s not immersed in
                          enjoy most about the online experience.           online learning, she enjoys playing and
                                                                            writing about women’s golf.
                          Aligned with the research she has read
                          and conducted surrounding professor
                          presence, Price has developed a series of         Amanda Mowell is Interim Director of
                          fluid syllabus items. Many of her students        Communications in the ETSU Office of
                          are familiar with “Dr. P’s Question of the        University Relations.
                          Week” assignments delivered by an audio

PHOTO BY CHARLIE WARDEN                                                                               SUMMER 2019 x 11
ENTREPRENEURIAL
STUDENT-ATHLETE DARACK NANTO
LOOKS TOWARD 2022
Darack Nanto is an inventor, a graduate          learned main electronic components in             people think that you can only do one
student, a personal trainer, an Olympic          the manufacturing engineering technology          thing—academics or athletics. What if I
hopeful, and a leader. He is determined to       program, but this is different because you        can be well-rounded? What if I can have
show those in his home country of Togo that      take normal hardware and try to make it           degrees and still be an athlete? I just want
he can succeed at both his academic and          talk to the internet. I had to really start       to start this bobsled journey and compete
athletic aspirations. Darack is building a       researching online, troubleshooting, failing      in a winter sport even though I am from a
prototype of his invention, the Eco Smart        at it, and trying and trying again. I first had   country on the continent of Africa and we
Can, while balancing his time between            a basic version for my undergraduate honors       don’t have snow. I want to do a sport that’s
graduate classes and training to become an       thesis. I won the competition, and other          not even offered in my country to show to the
Olympic athlete. His goal is to become the       people on campus discovered my project.           younger generation that you can dream big.
first person from Togo to compete in bobsled     The College of Business and Technology            It doesn’t matter where you come from, you
skeleton at the winter games in 2022.            took an interest in it, and I went to an          can achieve whatever you put your heart into
                                                 entrepreneurship conference in Nashville          and you work on. That’s what’s pushing me
What was it like adjusting to life               and talked to other people with startups          and motivating me to try to do the Olympics
in the United States as an                       across Tennessee. I really got inspired. I        and represent my country. Hopefully, with
international student?                           invested in books and equipment. Right            my hard work and support from friends and
                                                 now I’m working on a prototype with a solar       family, I’ll be at Beijing in 2022.
I had never been to the U.S. I came in the       panel and a compactor inside, which will be
spring semester 2013 and it was really cold. I   fully automated. It can identify and compress     Has the Olympic Training Site at ETSU
brought my jacket from home and it was not       the trash at certain levels. When the trash       influenced your decision to train for
made for winter. When I was at the airport I     is at 50 percent filled, it can compact it to     bobsled skeleton?
asked my friend to bring me a winter jacket      around 30 percent.
because what I had cannot hold me. I was                                                           I wanted to become a weightlifter, but
frozen. The other thing was getting used to      When you’re not working on the Eco                my country does not have a weightlifting
the accents, “y’all” especially, and people      Smart Can prototype in your lab in                federation so it was really hard to make it
were having a hard time understanding me         Wilson-Wallis Hall or studying, what              happen. The Olympic Training Site played a
so I had to work on articulating my words. I     other activities are you involved in?             role because there are people here who know
tried my best to integrate and learn as much                                                       what they are doing. You see international
as I can about American culture.                 Currently, I’m President of the Muslim            and U.S. athletes coming to train here.
                                                 Student Association and if I’m not in the
Last year, you won a business pitch              lab, I try to work with the association,          What’s the next step in your journey
competition at ETSU (iBucs). What is             or because I am an athlete as well, I will        and what do you hope to accomplish?
your invention and what phase are you            be training. I’m hoping to represent my
at now?                                          country Togo in the next Winter Olympics          Finances are the next step. It’s a small
                                                 in the sport of bobsled skeleton. So if I’m       sport and expensive. I believe I have the
One day I was walking to the CPA (Center for     not in class or in the lab learning, I’m in       drive, the motivation, and the strength to
Physical Activity) and saw a maintenance guy     the CPA working out or in the Mini-Dome           make it happen. I’m building from scratch.
emptying trash near Rogers-Stout Hall. The       training. I’m also a personal trainer, so         I have to get the equipment on my own. I
can was barely filled, but he emptied it and     during the summer I work at the CPA               hope people will believe in me and invest
replaced the plastic bag and went to the next    to help people reach their fitness goals.         in me so I can prove you can dream big and
can. In my head, I thought, “Those cans have     I am also a Presidential Ambassador for           make it happen. In May I graduate with my
almost nothing inside. Why would you empty       the university.                                   Master’s in Technology with a concentration
it?” As an engineer, I was thinking why. It                                                        in Engineering Technology and a Certificate
seemed like a waste of time and resources.       How did your Olympic dream begin?                 in Business Administration. I would like to
Is there a way that we could know the trash                                                        invest my time to develop a company to sell
level before, so we don’t have to collect the    I grew up participating in sports, mostly         and advertise the product (Eco Smart Can).
trash if it’s not needed?                        martial arts, and I was a goal-keeper in high     My ultimate goal is to inspire the younger
                                                                                                                  N CA MP BE LL

                                                 school. When I came to ETSU, I wanted to          generation that you can do whatever you
I started researching and applying for funds     join a team, but I couldn’t commit the time.      want to do as long as you put time and
for startup and to get the equipment to          Then I started on a workout journey and I         effort into it. Because of my field of study in
                                                                                                                      PH OTO BY RO

develop it. To track the level of trash, I am    just wanted to be a fit man and work hard.        manufacturing, I have a lot of options and I
using IOT (Internet of Things) technology        People started noticing me. I always had          can almost work anywhere. It really depends
and I had to start learning about it. We         a dream to be an athlete, but sometimes           on the opportunities that happen.

12 x ETSU TODAY
WHO’S GOING TO ETSU?

PHOTO BY CHARLIE WARDEN             SUMMER 2019 x 13
MATTHEW HILL’S
EXPERIENCE NETS
LEADERSHIP ROLE
IN TENNESSEE HOUSE

Matthew Hill says that if anyone had told
him when he was an undergraduate at East
Tennessee State University that he would
one day run for state representative and win
– and represent his alma mater in his district
– he would have said, “You’re crazy.”

But run for state representative he did,
and now, not only is he serving his eighth
consecutive term as representative for the
7th House District – tying him for sixth in
Tennessee House seniority – he was named
Deputy Speaker of the House for the 111th
General Assembly.

Hill’s experience from his seven previous
terms, as well as the communication skills
honed through his career in broadcasting,
earned him the opportunity to succeed the
former Deputy Speaker, Representative
Steve McDaniel, who retired.

In this new role, Hill works to move
legislation through the House and advises
both House leadership and the chairpersons
of various committees and subcommittees.

14 x ETSU TODAY
He chairs the House Rules and Ethics               is lower taxes, less regulation, and more         our classroom discussions sometimes broke
committees, and, as a member of the                individual liberty, is pushed forward, and        out into debates. That really sharpened
Budget Subcommittee, he examines the               number two, to continue to make sure that         my rhetorical skills to be able to argue in
allocations and expenditures of all Tennessee      Johnson City, Washington County, and, I           committee or to advocate strongly for a
governmental departments and agencies.             might say, ETSU, are represented well in the      position on the House floor, and I know
                                                   House of Representatives. In this new role,       beyond a shadow of a doubt that those
“This affords me the opportunity to have a         we’ll always make sure that ETSU is part of       skills were either acquired or honed very
lot of access to our leadership, including our     the conversation.”                                well at ETSU. Classes were really infused
new Governor,” Hill says. “Just to be able to                                                        with everyday life, to prepare you to get
build that relationship with Governor Bill         From the entire time Hill has spent in            out in the real world and work at your
Lee and his staff is invaluable in my role as      the state legislature thus far, he says he is     chosen profession.
Deputy Speaker, and will continue to be very       most proud of being “able to help literally
helpful to me as the Representative for the        thousands of people.” He and his longtime         “When I was at ETSU, I had no idea I was
7th District, as well.”                            legislative assistant, Carol Burroughs, keep a    going to run for State Representative and
                                                   file of thank you notes from constituents and     serve in the Legislature as long as I have, but
Hill’s goals in this role, he says, are, “number   groups they have assisted through the years.      to be able to constantly, consistently, every
one, to make sure that the agenda of the                                                             single day, draw upon those skills and that
Republican majority in the House, which            “I’m thankful that file is very full,” he says.   knowledge base that I first learned at ETSU
                                                   “That’s why I’m there – the folks of the 7th      is invaluable.”
                                                   House District. They send me to Nashville
  ...TO BE ABLE TO                                 to represent them, and when they need help
                                                   with their state government, I’m there to
                                                                                                     Hill adds that he comes from an “ETSU
                                                                                                     family.” His parents met as students in
  CONSTANTLY,                                      help. I genuinely enjoy getting to help people.   Theatre at ETSU, and his brother, Tim (also

  CONSISTENTLY,                                    That’s the best part of everything.”              a state legislator, representing District 3), is
                                                                                                     a graduate of ETSU. His wife, Amanda, was
  EVERY SINGLE                                     Hill draws upon his education from ETSU
                                                   each day, whether he’s on the House floor
                                                                                                     a member of the first class of the bachelor’s
                                                                                                     degree program in Dental Hygiene after it
  DAY, DRAW UPON                                   or working in his career as Vice President        converted from an associate degree program,
                                                   for Operations at Appalachian Radio Group,        and together they have two children.
  THOSE SKILLS AND                                 which has four stations based in the Tri-

  THAT KNOWLEDGE                                   Cities. After earning his associate degree
                                                   from Northeast State Community College, he
                                                                                                     “I do consider it a real honor and privilege to
                                                                                                     represent ETSU in the legislature,” Hill says.
  BASE THAT I FIRST                                went on to graduate from ETSU in 2003 with
                                                   a bachelor’s degree in Communication with
  LEARNED AT ETSU                                  an emphasis in Broadcasting and a minor in        Jennifer Hill is Assistant Director of University
                                                   Political Science.                                Relations at ETSU. | Photos courtesy
  IS INVALUABLE.                                                                                     of Photographic Services, Tennessee
                                                   “That minor was excellent preparation for         Department of General Services, Nashville
  Matthew Hill                                     what I’m doing now,” Hill says, “because

                                                                                                                                 SUMMER 2019 x 15
COVER STORY

GAVIN ON SURVIVOR
ETSU GRAD REALIZES
LIFELONG DREAM
TO COMPETE
ON POPULAR
SHOW

While competing on
Survivor, Gavin Whitson was
surprised by a visit from his
wife, Carly, whom he married
just two days before leaving
to be on the show.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS

Gavin Whitson ’16 outwitted, outplayed, and       Did your time at ETSU prepare you for           I loved the family visit episode and
outlasted his fellow tribemates for 39 days,      any aspect of your Survivor journey?            your story about moving up your
ultimately becoming first-runner up. But his      If so, how?                                     wedding for Survivor. Did you know
Survivor journey goes back much further.                                                          Carly when you were a student at
                                                  I think my time at ETSU was similar to the      ETSU? Will you share how the decision
I read you always dreamed about                   game of Survivor. The first day of class you    to move up the wedding played out?
playing Survivor and applied five                 look around and see if there are people you
times. Why did it appeal to you?                  think you can work with and to help you get     Carly and I actually started dating while we
                                                  through the semester, which is similar to the   were both students at ETSU. We dated all
Being on Survivor was a dream of mine             game when you find people on day one that       through college and got engaged while we
since I was a kid. I think part of it was being   you hope will work with you until the end.      were students there as well, so ETSU played
drawn to the challenges. I always thought         It’s always easier when you have people you     a big part in our relationship. When I found
I would excel in them. I was also amazed          can trust to go to when you find yourself in    out I had the opportunity to be on Survivor,
by the fact that it was filmed in locations so    difficult situations.                           Carly and I had to make a decision whether
much different than Tennessee, and before                                                         we were going to move the wedding so I
Survivor I hadn’t traveled much at all. It        How have people in Erwin/East                   could play or skip out on the opportunity
was an experience I wanted to have that not       Tennessee responded to your                     and keep the wedding plans we had set. We
many other people can say they’ve had.            Survivor appearance?                            ultimately decided that I was going to play
                                                                                                  and Carly made the final decision because
Did the experience live up to your                I am still working at the YMCA and I love       she knew this had been my dream since I
expectations? In what ways?                       my job, but I am excited to see if this         was a kid and she wanted to let me pursue
                                                  opportunity opens new doors for me. If          my dream. The family visit on Day 30 was
The experience was everything I wanted…           ETSU ever wants to offer a course on the        a day I will never forget for the rest of my
okay more. I didn’t realize how hard              psychology of Survivor, I’m interested! The     life. I was so happy I made it that far so
Survivor actually was until I got to              people of Erwin and East Tennessee have         Carly was able to come share a piece of this
participate. It’s a lot easier sitting on the     made my Survivor experience. Being in an        adventure with me.
couch eating a cheeseburger and wondering         area like this where everyone I have met
why these people are making the decisions         has been super supportive was one of the
they make. When you are actually out there        greatest gifts from this experience.            Melissa Nipper is Assistant Director for
living it with no food and no comfort, it puts                                                    Communications in the Office of University
things into perspective. I have so much more                                                      Relations at ETSU.
respect for the game now.
16 x ETSU TODAY
As a graduate of ETSU you
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Valid through September 9, 2018.
PHOTO BY CHARLIE WARDEN

                          Millennium Center
                          OFFICIALLY UNDER
                           NEW OWNERSHIP
18 x ETSU TODAY
On October 1, 2018, ETSU acquired the            staff already plan and facilitate events in the   would ever make it to a classroom. The
74,000-square-foot building from the City        Culp Center in conjunction with food service      department’s current home in Nicks Hall is
of Johnson City, specifically, the Johnson       provider Sodexo, they were prepared to take       at capacity as the department has grown 15
City Building Authority. The purchase            on the new space. In fact, ETSU continues         percent in the last two years. Every lab and
jumpstarted the creation of a Cybersecurity      to run the Millennium Center as an events         classroom is completely booked.
concentration in the Department of               facility for university and community use,
Computing and provides a temporary               while portions of the building transition to      More space is the key to growth.
solution to a lack of meeting and event          academic use over time.
space while the D.P. Culp University                                                               The Department of Computing is projecting
Center undergoes a major renovation. The         Although much about the Millennium                more than 100 new students through the
pedestrian bridge and the adjacent parking       Center remains as it was, one of the              addition of a Cybersecurity and Modern
garage were also included in the purchase        first big changes was the spelling of the         Networks concentration, which will have a
and will help support the increased flow of      facility’s name from “Centre” in order to         selective admission process.
foot and vehicle traffic as campus extends       maintain consistency with other buildings
across State of Franklin Road.                   on campus. Additionally, the Millennium           “We want to recruit the absolute best and
                                                                                                   brightest students to take advantage of the
                                                                                                   cyber security training,” Pittarese says.

   I FORESEE MANY OPPORTUNITIES                                                                    Sections of the Millennium Center will
                                                                                                   be renovated in phases with the goal of
   FOR INTERDISCIPLINARY INTERACTIONS                                                              creating technology-forward classrooms
                                                                                                   and specialized computing and networking
   BETWEEN STUDENTS IN THE PERFORMING                                                              labs that position ETSU as the pinnacle for
                                                                                                   computing education in the region. The
   ARTS AND STUDENTS IN BUSINESS                                                                   institution is already among a small number
   AND TECHNOLOGY.                                                                                 of universities to have three programs under
                                                                                                   one roof—Computer Science, Information
                                                                                                   Systems, and Information Technology—all
   Jeremy Ross, ETSU’s                                                                             accredited by the Computing Accreditation
   Chief Operating Officer                                                                         Commission of ABET.

                                                                                                   To enter the Cybersecurity and Modern
                                                                                                   Networks (CSMN) concentration, students
                                                                                                   must first complete two years of computer
Motorists on that busy thoroughfare eagerly      Center provided a unique opportunity for          science courses at ETSU. They can then
watch the Martin Center for the Arts take        academic expansion without the wait for           join a cohort of students who will complete
shape on the property beside the Millennium      a new building to be constructed. ETSU’s          the CSMN concentration together over
Center. Because of its close proximity to        Department of Computing began offering            the next two years. The first junior-level
the forthcoming performing arts center, the      courses at the Millennium Center during the       cohort will be admitted in fall 2021, making
Millennium Center’s purchase by ETSU did         spring semester and through several phases,       freshmen entering ETSU in fall 2019 the first
not come as a big surprise.                      additional square footage will transition to      candidates eligible for this new program.
                                                 academic space as the department prepares
Some said it was simply meant to be.             to offer cybersecurity courses.                   Whether it was foresight, perfect timing,
                                                                                                   or maybe a bit of both, incorporating the
“The original vision back in 1999 when the       “There are many of these types of programs        Millennium Center onto ETSU’s campus was
Millennium Center opened was to offer an         available, but our emphasis on incorporating      a major investment that will pay off dividends
educational component and its use has been       contemporary issues around contemporary           in new possibilities, especially for students.
flexible over the years,” explained Jeremy       network applications, IoT (Internet of
Ross, ETSU’s Chief Operating Officer and         Things) and cloud computing will make us          “I foresee many opportunities for
one of the architects who helped design the      unique,” says Dr. Tony Pittarese, Chair of the    interdisciplinary interactions between
Millennium Center. “It was foreseen that         Department of Computing.                          students in the performing arts and students
ETSU could eventually be the owner.”                                                               in business and technology,” Ross says. “The
                                                 “We will focus on protecting our digital          Millennium Center expands our ability to
Even if the purchase was predicted, it made      resources not only as they reside on              serve our students and our community.”
good sense.                                      computer systems but also as it travels from
                                                 place to place.”
ETSU already operated the Niswonger                                                                Amanda Mowell is Interim Director of
Digital Media Center in a wing of the facility   Before the Millennium Center came                 Communications in the ETSU Office of
and was one of its main clients, hosting         into focus, Pittarese said he was unsure          University Relations.
numerous conferences, lectures, and              if a proposed curriculum focusing on
celebrations annually. Because university        cybersecurity and modern networks

                                                                                                                              SUMMER 2019 x 19
INTRODUCING ETSU HEALTH

  Dr. Wilsie S. Bishop, Senior
  Vice President for Academics.

Patients will begin seeing the name ETSU Health on the health care          They serve the region, with clinics in five counties with a
landscape of Northeast Tennessee.                                           commitment to caring for the citizens of the region.

Earlier this year, students, faculty, and staff gathered to celebrate the   “Our patients are already familiar with the high-quality care we
launch of ETSU Health, the new name for the five colleges in East           provide at our clinical sites,” Bishop said. “As this year progresses,
Tennessee State University’s Academic Health Sciences Center.               they will also become familiar with the name ETSU Health.

The name refers to the educational, clinical, and research pursuits of      “Our goal is that this name will represent team-based care and a
ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine, Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy,        seamless experience for our patients.”
College of Nursing, College of Public Health, and College of Clinical
and Rehabilitative Health Sciences.                                         The university also took an official step toward introducing ETSU
                                                                            Health earlier this year when it joined the Nashville Health Care
“The name ETSU Health will unify our colleges and providers and will        Council, a premier association of health care leaders. Joining the
help shape the future of the education and care that we provide,” said      Nashville Health Care Council was a natural first step in the rollout of
Dr. Wilsie Bishop, Senior Vice President for Academics at ETSU. “The        the ETSU Health name, Bishop added.
AHSC name was descriptive of what we are, but beyond the academic
arena, it really did little to identify the comprehensive nature of         “The council is committed to improving health care, and ETSU
our educational program offerings, clinical health care delivery, or        Health is a leader in health care in Northeast Tennessee and
research activities.”                                                       Southwest Virginia,” Bishop said. “Our mission and values align with
                                                                            those of the council, and we are excited to contribute and collaborate
With 30 clinical locations, 250 health care providers, and the five         with its membership.”
AHSC colleges, ETSU Health is on the front lines of efforts to improve
the region’s health. ETSU Health includes the university’s existing         For a comprehensive listing of ETSU’s clinical locations and to learn
comprehensive primary and specialty medical clinics (including              more about ETSU Health, visit www.ETSUHealth.com.
Quillen ETSU Physicians and ETSU Family Medicine clinics), nurse-
managed clinics, allied health clinics, and interprofessional care
provided in the clinics.                                                    Melissa Nipper is Assistant Director for Communications in the Office
                                                                            of University Relations at ETSU.
Working with its wide range of regional partners, ETSU Health
providers offer leading-edge health care in dozens of specialties.

20 x ETSU TODAY
Strength in
                                                                              Community
                                                                                    ETSU brings together
                                                                                      key stakeholders
                                                                                 to address the opioid crisis

Dr. Nick Hagemeier, Associate Professor in       And he wasn’t alone.                               local communities who play a role in fighting
ETSU’s Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, will                                                        the opioid problem.
never forget the day the opioid crisis crossed   In Tennessee, during 2017 more than 1,700
his professional path and changed the course     people died due to drug overdoses, and even        Since its inception in 2012, the Working
of his career.                                   greater numbers battle opioid use disorders        Group has been transformational in the
                                                 every day and the effects on their babies,         fight against opioid morbidity and mortality
He was working in a retail pharmacy in           jobs, and families.                                in Northeast Tennessee, according to Dr.
Indiana when a man with a mask entered the                                                          Robert Pack, Executive Director of ETSU’s
store and demanded all of the OxyContin.         Experts from across the five colleges in the       Center for Prescription Drug Abuse and
The masked man started counting down             Academic Health Sciences Center at ETSU            Treatment and Associate Dean and Professor
from 20, waiting on Hagemeier and the            are grappling with the issue of the opioid         in ETSU’s College of Public Health.
pharmacy technician to comply.                   crisis in their research and clinical practices.
                                                 In addition, professionals throughout              “The purpose of the Working Group is to
After cleaning out their supply of OxyContin,    Northeast Tennessee, such as pharmacists,          assemble key stakeholders to discuss what
the man fled and was apprehended about           psychologists, public health experts,              we can do together,” Pack said. “It is trust-
a mile down the road. Months later,              physicians, nurses, dentists, criminal justice     building, relationship-building, and it’s
Hagemeier received a letter of apology from      professionals, social workers, and even            proven to be so valuable.”
the man, telling him that he was sorry, but he   funeral home directors are all exploring ways
had been hurting and needed help.                to prevent and treat prescription drug abuse.      The Working Group holds its meetings on
                                                                                                    the second Tuesday of each month from
“That was a game changer for me,”                To address this issue, a group of ETSU             4-5:30 p.m. in various locations on ETSU’s
Hagemeier said. “I didn’t know how to            faculty and community members formed               campus and in the community. Currently,
relieve the hurt and help him. So that was the   the Prescription Drug Abuse/Misuse                 there are more than 280 people from
driver for what I wanted to focus on in my       Working Group (“the Working Group”), an            throughout the region on the email invitation
research—because if I was feeling that way, I    interdisciplinary team comprised of experts        list, and the meetings are open to anyone
was probably not the only one.”                  from ETSU and individuals from throughout          who wants to attend.

                                                                                                                                SUMMER 2019 x 21
The combined efforts of the Working Group
have led to many positive outcomes in
the state and region, including 13 projects
totaling approximately $4.5 million
in extramural funding. Members have
collaborated on more than 100 public
presentations and more than 20 peer-
reviewed publications, Pack said.

Another development that came from
the Working Group’s discussions is
Overmountain Recovery, an outpatient
opioid treatment program that provides
evidence-based treatment of opioid use
disorders. It is a joint project of ETSU, Ballad
Health, and Frontier Health. Overmountain
Recovery recently received a grant from the
Tennessee Department of Mental Health
& Substance Abuse Services to expand its
treatment services in the region.

The Working Group also led to the
establishment of ETSU’s Center for
Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and
Treatment, which has received state and                                                                                          Dr. Robert Pack
national attention for its efforts to combat
the opioid crisis.                                                                                                                     PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Last year, Pack was among a handful of             support the salaries and research of faculty      once a year to pray and learn more about
public health experts to take part in a            members of the center.                            the opioid problem.”
Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C.,
to discuss the complexities of the opioid          This year, the center received more good          The center partnered closely with the student
crisis. The same year, the team received a         news: a one-year Eugene Washington                group to ensure that they were presenting
national award from the United States Public       Engagement Award from the Patient-                concrete data, supported by best practices.
Health Service Interprofessional Education         Centered Outcomes Research Institute to
Collaborative. In addition, Hagemeier, who         establish the Opioids Research Consortium         “What is profound about this event is that
is also part of the Working Group, was one         of Central Appalachia (ORCA). ETSU                the people they invited to attend were senior
of just 28 individuals—and one of only two         partnered with Virginia Tech to apply for         leaders of their congregations, and at the
pharmacists—across the country appointed           the grant, which will facilitate planning for a   event they were exposed to really excellent
to a national task force charged with looking      research blueprint on opioids for the Central     content,” Pack said. “Hundreds of faith
at best practices related to pain management.      Appalachian region.                               leaders in the region are better informed
                                                                                                     because of what those students are doing.”
“The biggest challenge is understanding            Ballad Health and Carilion are key partners
and teaching others that there is no silver        in the grant, and university partners             This community-focused approach is what
bullet,” said Angela Hagaman, Director of          include ETSU, Virginia Tech, West Virginia        Pack and his colleagues find so gratifying
Operations for the Center for Prescription         University, Marshall University, and the          about the Working Group and ETSU’s
Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment.               University of Kentucky. Other university          centrality to the region’s efforts to battle the
“This is a wicked public health problem            partners in the region could also be included.    opioid crisis.
with multiple contributing factors. A
comprehensive approach is a must due to the        While grant money is key to funding               “Our work is by no means complete, but
complexity of the problem.                         important research, Pack is also seeing the       we’re on the right path and we’re making
                                                   center’s influence in other ways throughout       progress,” Hagemeier said. “It’s a blessing
“Over the past seven years, our team and           the community, including through faith-           to work at an institution that is leading
corresponding Working Group have engaged           based initiatives.                                the charge and, in the process, positively
with partners across the state and region. In                                                        impacting the region. It’s operationalizing
addition, we are frequently asked to serve on      “There is a group of highly-motivated,            stewardship of place.”
national panels and make presentations to          supremely talented students around ETSU’s
elected officials in Nashville and D.C.”           main campus and medical and pharmacy
                                                   schools who have organized a faith-based          Melissa Nipper is Assistant Director for
Last year, the center received a $500,000          initiative called Adoration,” Pack said.          Communications in the Office of University
state appropriation from Tennessee to              “Their vision is to have 1,000 churches           Relations at ETSU.
bolster its work, and those funds have helped      represented at a praise and worship service

22 x ETSU TODAY
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