Ronald E. Beller

Ronald E. Beller
1990 Honorary Alumni

Ronald E. Beller, was born October 4, 1935, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Ervin Charles and Marion Banthien Beller. He received a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Florida in 1957 and an MBA in management from Kent State University nine years later; in March 1971, Beller earned his Ph.D. in management and economics at the University of Florida, where he was initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Before launching his career in higher education, Beller was employed in private industry as an engineer and an industrial marketing representative. His experience has included serving as head of budgeting services, assistant professor of hospital administration and budget consultant to the provost with J. Hillis Miller Health Center at the University of Florida. Beller taught management at Wake Forest University and the University of South Alabama, and worked as a research associate with the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

From 1972 to 1977, Beller served the University of South Alabama as special assistant to the president and dean for finance and administration. He became provost for administration at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in 1977, and just two years later he was named VCU's executive vice president.

It was from Virginia Commonwealth University that Beller came to the ETSU presidency. The August 24, 1980, edition of the Johnson City Press-Chronicle quoted the new president as saying that he hoped to develop a community feeling" 'that the university is moving ahead constructively and purposely.' " Dr. Beller became East Tennessee State University's sixth president in August 1980.

The innumerable accomplishments of the Beller administration also include: formation of the University Council, offering campus-wide representative participation in ETSU's major decisions; a record $1.5 million in ETSU Foundation contributions for 1985- 86; and the National Science Foundation's grant in excess of three-quarters of a million dollars for the university's MATHCAPS project to improve mathematics education in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

President Beller contributed numerous articles to professional journals, and for two consecutive years he was invited to address the International Health Economics and Management Institute. He spoke on health care delivery systems at conferences in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Rome, Italy. In 1984, he was selected by presidents and chancellors of AASCU colleges and universities in Tennessee as the 1985-86 state representative to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

"A university coming of age"-a theme characterizing the first university-wide convocation in October 1984-describes ETSU's progression into its 75th year. Dr. James Fisher, president of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in addressing the convocation proclaimed that "ETSU is becoming a national focal point for the best things in higher education."

As an official Tennessee Homecoming '86 community, ETSU launched its diamond anniversary celebration in a special proclamation led by the president on October 10, 1985. This yearlong observance of the institution's "tradition and vision" since 1911-from homecomings to commencements to the Presidential Distinguished Lecture Series and myriad events concluded in October 1986 with a look toward the University's centennial. Beller stated: "I hope that in the year 2011, when East Tennessee State University celebrates its l00th birthday, those of us who are leading the university today will be considered as visionary as those educational pioneers who saw a need in 1911 and fulfilled it by creating East Tennessee State Normal School. I also hope that in 2011, when those future leaders look back to the 1980s, they can truly say that East Tennessee State University came of age during its 75th anniversary year. What we can become by our l00th birthday will be limited only by what we believe we can be."

Beller is married to the former Judith Cline, and the couple has seven children: Julia, Deborah, LeeAnne, Bradley, James, Elizabeth (Bunny) and Ronald Jr.