Burgin Estel Dossett, former president of East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee, was born the son of Thomas David and Mary (Hunter) Dossett on February 2, 1898, in Campbell County, Tennessee. Dossett received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tennessee in 1922, a masters degree from Harvard University in 1924, and an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Bob Jones University in 1947.
Prior to his employment as ETSC president, Dossett worked as an instructor during the summer sessions at the University of Tennessee, 1921-27; as a high school principal, 1924-28; a county superintendent of schools in Campbell County, Tennessee, 1928-1935; a secretary to United States Senator Nathan Bachman, 1934-1935; and an East Tennessee Administrator for the Works Project Administration, 1935-36. In 1937 he became manager of the Social Security Board, Knoxville, Tennessee, and was appointed Commissioner of Education for the State of Tennessee in 1945. Dossett became executive director of the American Cancer Society, Tennessee Division from January until August of 1949. He served as president of East Tennessee State College (subsequently East Tennessee State University), Johnson City, Tennessee, between 1949 and 1968. Dossett died Saturday, March 13, 1993, in Johnson City, Tennessee, at the age of 96.