ETSU honors county man by adding his name to building where he worked for 26 years

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   East Tennessee State University recently renamed a building on its campus after a Carter County man to honor more than 20 years of service to the university.
   At a dedication luncheon on Friday, ETSU President Paul E. Stanton presented a plaque to Jerry Vanhoy to commemorate the addition of his name to the university's chiller plant building. "Today we're honoring a very dear friend, Jerry Vanhoy, for his 26 years of service to this university," Stanton said at the luncheon.
   The newly named John Clack - Jerry Vanhoy Chiller Plant is where Vanhoy spent a large portion of the 26 years he spent working at ETSU before retiring in June of 2002.
   As part of his duties, Vanhoy was in charge of overseeing the operation of the chiller plant, which is used to maintain the heating and air conditioning systems at the many buildings that cover the nearly 400 acre campus. Maintaining that facility and the comfort level in the university's buildings is a difficult job, Stanton said, and inevitably difficulties and problems will arise. "For 26 years when such problems did occur, we rested with assurance that everything was already under control," Stanton said. "We rested with the knowledge that Jerry was working on the situation."
   Vanhoy was very dedicated to his job, Stanton said, adding that as the technology of the chiller plant advanced, it turned into a 24-hour a day job for him. According to Stanton, Vanhoy worked to acquire a computer system that monitored the chiller plant operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Vanhoy even worked holidays when needed to assure that the job was done right and the facility maintained.
   "I remember the blizzard of 1998. I remember walking through the dormitories worrying about the students and their welfare," Stanton recalled. "Jerry was the one who worked with the City of Johnson City to get a solution worked out."
   Other employees of the university spoke at the luncheon and all mentioned Vanhoy's dedication not only to his job but to his family as well, many of whom were in attendance.
   The decision to rename the building came during the fall of 2002, Stanton said. "We took the proposal to the TBR (Tennessee Board of Regents) in December and they approved it then," he said. "He's just meant too much to us during those 26 years that we wanted to do something to honor him.
   "It (the building) will serve as a lasting reminder of the man who gave us 26 years of his life."
   Vanhoy was humbled by the honor which the university bestowed on him. "I was really quite surprised," he said, recalling how he felt when he found out the university was going to name the building after him. "I felt it was an honor, not that I deserved it more than anyone else, but I appreciate it."
   When Vanhoy accepted his plaque at the luncheon, he told those in attendance that it was not just his hard work that kept the chiller plant operating. "I can assure you that everything that happened while I was here took a lot of people to get through," he said.
   Vanhoy said that he missed working at the university and the day-to-day activities that he was a part of while he was there. "I appreciate the university, it's been good to me," he said, adding that many of his children had attended the university. "They provided me with a good living while I was here and they educated my children."