1827 – 1832
Charles Coffin Presidency
In 1826, the East Tennessee College trustees tendered the (third UT) presidency to Charles Coffin, president of Greeneville College (Tusculum) and a Presbyterian minister with a doctor of divinity degree from Williams College. A native of Massachusetts and graduate of Harvard, Coffin had come to Tennessee in 1800 to join the faculty of Greeneville College. Ten years later, he assumed its presidency and also the pastorship of the local Presbyterian church. As a special enticement to get him to come to Knoxville, the trustees offered a $1,500 annual salary, generous for that time, and a president’s home, purchased when an additional 74 acres including a spacious residence were added to the original tract. Coffin remained as the president of East Tennessee College for five years, teaching full-time in addition to performing administrative work. During his tenure, fierce public opposition was expressed over the expenditure of $13,OOO on the college’s first building (Old College, which was razed in 1919 to build Ayres Hall) located on the Hill. Additional criticism was directed at the college for being primarily a school for the wealthy. This opposition was partly a factor in Coffin’s resignation. He told the trustees that the public feeling of East Tennesseans was not sufficient to support a college. Although Coffin was 57 when he left the presidency, he thought a “younger man, of unfailing health” should be selected to lead the institution.