President Dr. Brian Noland staying at ETSU


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – East Tennessee State University President Dr. Brian Noland has withdrawn his name from consideration to become the University of Tennessee’s next chancellor.

Dr. Brian Noland announced at Friday afternoon’s ETSU Board of Trustees’ meeting that he will remain the school’s top leader.

His decision comes less than ten days after he and three other finalists took part in a forum to become the next chancellor at UT Knoxville.

Dr. Noland stunned the audience with his big announcement on Friday.

He’s served as president for the past eight years and he renewed his contract in February.

Under his leadership – the football program returned to campus along with the new stadium and performing arts center.

Items Noland highlights Friday include the recent launch of “ETSU Health” that aims to unify the university’s healthcare related colleges. Along with a $120 million capital campaign.

Dr. Noland said he’s ready to get to work.

“I look forward to helping to push ETSU Health, to push one some of the things we’re doing with reorganization and restructure, to complete the Martin Center, to complete the Culp Center, to break ground on land, to break ground on Humanities. There’s a lot of work to do here and I look forward to seeing that work to closure,” Dr. Noland said.

He said it’s not been an easy past few weeks for him and his family.

Dr. Noland said he reached out to UT Knoxville’s Interim President Randy Boyd Thursday night letting him know he’s withdrawing his name for consideration of the chancellor position.

He said UT has changed his life. That’s where he gained his PhD and met his wife.

He said he’s been struck by conversations he’s had with faculty, staff and students who’ve wished him well as he explored this opportunity but have wanted him to stay as the leader of the university in the region he calls home.

“My wife’s family lives in Greeneville. My family lives in Asheville, North Carolina. East Tennessee is home, and the chance to continue to be a part of efforts that improve the lives of the people of the region, that’s home for our families is a high honor and a weighty responsbility,” Dr. Noland said.

Late Friday, the University of Tennessee selected Donde Plowman as their next chancellor, Plowman is currently the executive vice chancellor at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

The following letter was sent out to students and staff at ETSU. 

April 26, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Friends:

Since becoming the President of East Tennessee State University in January 2012, I have fully dedicated myself to this campus and our community.  My family and I have worked tirelessly to share the ETSU story and advance this great institution by creating limitless possibilities for current and future generations of Buccaneers.

Today, I share with each of you that Donna, Jackson, and I have made a decision to remain at ETSU.  We are choosing to remain dedicated to an institution that, over the past seven years, has embraced us in meaningful ways, thereby resulting in lasting memories and lifelong friends.

In making this decision, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to the ETSU family for their unwavering support as I explored an amazing opportunity at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, a place where I discovered my passion for higher education and where I first met the love of my life and your First Lady.

In visiting the UT campus and the Knoxville area last week, I had an opportunity to meet many inspiring individuals who are looking forward to what the future holds as their Board selects a new campus leader.  With this decision to withdrawal my candidacy from the UT Chancellor search, I express my sincere gratitude to the entire UT community, including Chairman John Compton and President Randy Boyd, among many others.

My heart and soul are at home in Johnson City.  That became abundantly clear over the past few weeks as we joined together to unveil the Campaign for ETSU, a capital campaign with an ambitious goal of raising $125 million and reimagining what is possible for our institution, our students, and our programs.  My enduring love for ETSU has been reaffirmed as we acknowledge the notable achievements of our talented students and the many years of service of our dedicated employees as part of various year-end convocations and awards ceremonies.  Additionally, the recent launch of ETSU Health affirmed my belief that we are strategically positioned to continue meeting the health care needs of this region, including our work on the front lines of combating the opioid crisis plaguing Appalachia.

Without question, this is a special place at an exciting time.  I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish together in the months and years ahead as one ETSU family.

Godspeed and Go Bucs,


Brian Noland


Ballad Health Chairman and CEO, Alan Levine also released a statement following Dr. Noland’s announcement:

“This morning, ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland informed me of his decision to withdraw from the search process for Chancellor of the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Dr. Noland is a friend and one of Ballad Health’s most important supporters. Upon learning that Dr. Noland was a potential candidate for Chancellor of University of Tennessee Knoxville, I encouraged him to reconsider his candidacy, and have done so for the last two weeks. As many in our community would attest, he and Donna are such an important part of our region, it was our hope that he would choose to remain a part of it.  Today, I am joyful that he made the decision to stay. Dr. Noland shared with me that he is committed to his students, faculty and to the mission of ETSU, and he was just not ready to leave after having gone through the process at UT. Dr. Noland and the first lady are two amazing people, and I’m overjoyed they chose to stay a part of our region and at the helm of our great University, ETSU. While many great UT leaders, alumni and supporters encouraged him to seek the Chancellor position, and I’m sure they are disappointed, today is a great day for our region.” 

-Alan Levine 

Chairman and CEO of Ballad Health 

Reaction to the news has also been shared on social media. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss