When students return to ETSU for the fall 2019 semester, they will find a new addition to the campus with a plaza dedicated to the National Pan-Hellenic council.

“So the plaza is a space to recognize the history and significance of the nine NPHC organizations,” Maggie Darden, director of Sorority and Fraternity life said. “They were the first groups that allowed African American men and women to join. The first group was founded in 1906 at Cornell University. At the moment we have five of the nine organizations on our campus, and we’ve had seven of the nine organizations here in the history of ETSU.”

The plaza will be located by Centennial Hall on the corner of Gilbreath and Stout Drive.

“We did some research back in our institutional memory, and this idea has been floated for about 20 years by NPHC students,” Darden said. “They really want to have recognition, presence and visibility on campus and education about the organizations as well … Out of that we were able to provide the benches that are between Nicks and Gilbreath Hall.”

The idea of creating a plaza for the NPHC was revisited in 2016.

“Some students put the idea forward again and said, ‘Hey listen, it’s time to revisit this. What can we do on this campus?'” Darden said. “And when they put the idea forward to administration here, the administration said, ‘We love this idea, and we want to see it happen.'”

Darden said that after the initial idea was approved, there were a series of steps to go through to ensure the project would be completed.

“We came up with a design as a committee,” Darden said. “So we brought in students, alumni and advisers from the NPHC organizations. We had a vision meeting with Dr. Brenda White Wright to come up with a plan so that we could provide this information to say, ‘This is what we want. Let’s make sure it fits the university aesthetic,’ and this happened spring of 2018. It took us about six months to get through the design process, and it’s taken us about three months to get design renderings … We start construction on this after the close of school for the spring semester, and we will be ready and open for the fall academic school year.”

Darden said that the estimated cost for the overall project will be around $50,000, and that there is a lot of support behind the construction of the plaza.

“A lot of the funding for this project is donor led,” Darden said. “So in order to do this project we have donors that are still contributing money to it, and we’re still accepting and looking for donations to support the project. … NPHC has a very large alumni network. Everybody is very appreciative and very excited to see this happen.”

Those who wish to donate to the NPHC plaza may do so by going to www.etsu.edu/nphcplaza.