ETSU Remembers lives of more than 35 campus community members

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Apr 16, 2019 at 9:17 AM

Within the past year, East Tennessee State University has lost more than 35 campus community members — each of whom left a mark for their service to others and dedication in their respective fields.

On Monday evening, the ETSU community gathered at Reece Museum for a candlelighting ceremony honoring each of them as part of the “ETSU Remembers” memorial service.

“Part of the magic that comes from being on a campus such as ours is watching how the lives of individuals are transformed, but that transformation does not occur simply through lectures and textbooks — it occurs through the people we meet,” ETSU President Brian Noland said ahead of the ceremony. 

“I had the great honor to work with many of the individuals that we recognize tonight,” he said. “Many were dear friends, and I miss them deeply.” 

ETSU Student Government Association President Megha Gupta, ETSU Staff Senate President Stefanie Murphy and Faculty Senate President Bill Flora read the names of students, faculty and staff who have died within the last year as a candle was lit for each person.

One of the first people who came to mind was Chris Dula, the 49-year-old psychology professor well-known for connecting with his students and his love for music.

Dula, who was described as a “force of nature” by Noland, passed away in January after a long, courageous battle with brain cancer.

“Students really cared about Chris Dula, and they want to continue the things he did here and the job he was doing trying to make it a better place here,” Murphy said.

ETSU community members also honored the life of Angela Radford Lewis, vice provost and special assistant to the president for strategic initiatives, who died in January following a year-long battle with breast cancer and brain surgery.

“Both of them were tremendous role models and commanded the respect of many of the students and staff,” Murphy said of Dula and Lewis. “We would seek them out for advice, and they were very easygoing people – just a pleasure to know.”

After he lit her candle, Jonathan Radford said his mother will be most remembered and missed for her “positiveness.”

“She was always a beam of light and joy — smiling all of the time,” he said of Lewis. 

At the ceremony, Murphy also recalled the life of Dr. Manisha Nukavarapu, a second-year internal medicine resident, who died in a plane crash last month when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 jetliner crashed just after takeoff from Addis Ababa en route to Kenya. Nukavarapu was known by many for being a kind and dedicated physician. 

Throughout the ceremony, the ETSU Belles and Chorale groups performed, closing with “Even When He is Silent” by Kin Andre Arnesen.

A tear ran down Noland’s cheek during the Belles’ final performance. 

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