ETSU President Brian Noland gave his State of University address on Oct. 3, taking time to talk about ETSU’s achievements, weaknesses and future plans for success.

The number of first time freshman is down slightly since last year. In 2015, there were 1,999 first time freshmen, and now, in 2016, there are 1,886 first time freshman. The average GPA for first time freshman, however, has risen from a 3.4 to a 3.5.

“This is the best prepared class of freshman in the history of the university, and if things pull constant, the retention rate is going to improve and the graduation rate is going to improve,” Noland said.

“Students who are enrolled full time at our institution, 62 percent of them graduate from ETSU,” he said.

Noland said ETSU has made efforts to help students get involved, encouraging students to get engaged, live on campus and take a full-time class load.

Noland also said that a predominance of ETSU students are full-time students.

He hopes to improve the graduation rates for all students at ETSU.

“We have the lowest graduation rate of African Americans at any university at the state of Tennessee,” Noland said. “We must move these numbers.”

His also hopes that the university will have 18,000 students by 2025.

Noland discussed future construction projects for ETSU and significant changes for the campus.

The Martin Center for the Arts will open in the spring of 2019. The facility is behind schedule, but Noland believes that taking a little bit longer time and making the building bigger will result in a facility that will last for generations.

Noland hopes that the football stadium, which will cost approximately $26 million, according to, will be ready by next fall.

The D.P. Culp University Center will also experience major renovations over the next couple of years as well as Lamb Hall.

A new data center will also move from the basement of Lucille Clement to a more central campus location.

Noland ended his address by referencing  events that happened at the installation ceremony of ETSU in 1911 with the university’s first president, Sidney G. Gilbreath.

“At that ceremony on Oct. 10, 1911, for the first time, the tristar flag flew in the history in the state of Tennessee,” Noland said. “It didn’t fly first in Nashville or Knoxville or Chattanooga, it flew first here at East Tennessee State University. That flag and those three stars represent the three geographic regions of the state, but from my perspective they represent the three elements of education, teaching, service and research and the circle that ties them all together for East Tennessee is East Tennessee State University.”