JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland addressed students, faculty, alumni and all members of the university’s family on Monday regarding the recent protests and pandemic.
In a video, Noland stood before Memorial Fountain, where he recognized the first five African American students at the university. The fountain honors those students.
After speaking about the pioneer students and their contribution to the region, Noland then spoke aloud the names of African Americans killed in recent years, naming Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd last.
“I know that over the course of the last few days, I have wrestled with anger, sympathy, pain, empathy and other words that I’ll not express, because as a parent I can’t imagine what it would be like for my son to be in that position,” Noland said in the video.
Noland challenged everyone attached to the university to challenge themselves to encourage change by better understanding the past to ensure a better future.
“We need wisdom now more than ever, and this region needs East Tennessee State University now more than ever,” Nolan said.
Nolan said the events that have transpired can be seen as a “call to action” for the university to come together and create a better future.
Noland encouraged everyone to rise above the violence, come together as a region and share feelings in the wake of the recent protests and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“2020 has been unlike any other year in my lifetime,” Noland said.
Noland then spoke about the effect the coronavirus has had on the economy, especially in low-income families and communities of color.
Noland finished by saying he looks forward to being a part of the process as ETSU comes together as a campus and engages in dialogue with one another.