Donald R. Carter

Donald R. Carter '62, '64
1997 Award of Honor

We all know that universities and colleges exist for the sake of the students--to educate them, to challenge them to think critically and independently, and to prepare them for a rapidly changing and advanced society. Higher education is the instrument for shaping and creating our future. "Students must come first," you will hear many say on a university campus. That has always been the case for some, as it has been for Don Carter. In 30 years of service, Don has had two distinct careers at ETSU with the same goal in mind: always to serve the students.

Don Carter has always been thought of as a true friend and dedicated individual to all East Tennessee State students. Carter received his bachelor of science degree in biology from ETSU in 1962, the year he was editor of the Buccaneer yearbook. He then began graduate school and became a graduate assistant in the student center. As he worked to complete his master of science in guidance and counseling he trained to become director of the center. In 1964 it was time for him to complete a thesis project in order to graduate. Carter's, "A Plan for the University Center at ETSU," was the written program conceptualizing the organization and internal structure of personnel and administration. He also designed the facility after traveling around the country to study numerous student centers at other colleges and universities. The University Center is the only building on campus designed from a written program. The rest is history. Even those students who have not known Don as director of the D.P. Culp University Center, have been influenced by the plan he "carried around in his head for seven years."

Carter worked directly with the architects to design the $7 million facility to best suit the needs of the University. The success of the plan was credited in part to Carter's "fruitful working relationship" with the architect. The D. P. Culp University Center was designed to serve 15,000 students and was the winner of the 1976 Governor's Design Award for Excellence. Carter said, "It probably is one of the finest student centers in the nation."

While serving as Director of the University Center, Carter also helped to organize what is now the Campus Activities Board (CAB). Ask any student and they will tell you that CAB is as much an integral part of student life as SGA, if not more. Through CAB, the University hosted such performers as "The Supremes," "Ray Charles," "The Four Seasons," and "The Temptations." Don witnessed and was an integral part of the evolution of "Student Personnel" to "Student Affairs," as we know it today. He always made the student's affairs his own matters of concern. One of Carter's most noted roles was in organizing the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and serving on its board of directors until 1976. He received the NACA Founders Award which is it's highest honor. It is given to individuals who, during the years, have given of their time and talents in such a way as to contribute significantly to NACA. Recipients are "expected to have given continual and outstanding service to the organization, have exemplified standards of professional integrity and conduct, have achieved stature in their professions, hold the esteem of colleagues and peers, and have worked to further the field of campus activities programming." Don certainly surpassed the criteria which qualified him for this honor. One of the association's other founders commented, "Carter was always there to do what needed to be done, but he stayed out of the limelight. His most frequent asked question was, "How can we do it better."

Among his many roles of leadership and service, Carter maintained involvement on the ETSU campus by serving as the Buccaneer yearbook advisor from 1964 until 1980, advisor to the University Center Program Council, establishing the Miss ETSU Scholarship Pageant, and advising the ETSU Cheerleaders. Not only has Don been dedicated to ETSU but to his community as well. He was a member of the Association of College Unions as a regional representative and the Recreation Committee. He also served on the original Johnson City Chamber of Commerce Convention and Tourism Council.

Don spent a short amount of time as the first general manager for the Sheraton Hotel which is now The Holiday Inn. It was after this in 1986 that he became the director of Development for the ETSU Pirate Club, which raises funds for ETSU student athlete Scholarships. Since his tenure in this position, he has been the designer of programs that have lead to tremendous growth of the Pirate Club giving. Donor levels increased from $150,000 annually to more than $900,000 annually over a period of ten years. He also played a key role in orchestrating the priority seating for ETSU basketball and Business Backs the Bucs which provides educational and scholarship support for ETSU athletics. Again, Don's standard of performance is maintained and exhibited in the work he does, "The students coming first." Even after thirty years of working at the same institution, Don never tires in his consistent work ethic and optimistic demeanor. DEDICATION . . . another element of ETSU PRIDE.

Carter, a native of Kingsport, is married to Bunny Carter. He has two sons, Clint and Casey.