Thomas J. Coates
Thomas Jackson Coates was a native Kentuckian and came to Eastern from the State Department of Education, where he had been serving as the supervisor of rural schools. He had also served as superintendent of Richmond city schools from 1907 to 1911.
Eastern Kentucky State Normal School and Teachers College
It was during his tenure that the first significant change in Eastern's status was accomplished. In 1922, Eastern became a four-year institution, known as Eastern Kentucky State Normal School and Teachers College, and began to offer its first baccalaureate degrees.
The school experienced a small building boom during his tenure Eastern acquired the 176-acre Stateland Farm and spent over $250,000 on new construction, including the Coates Administration Building, the Cammack Building, Burnam Hall, and the original John Grant Crabbe Library.
Like his predecessors, Coates faced constant competition for students from public and private colleges in the region. Nevertheless, enrollment increased, despite inadequate dormitory space. Dr. Coates appealed to the people of Richmond to open their homes to students, and they responded. By 1926 the Richmond Register estimated that Eastern generated over $500,000 yearly to the local economy.
Coates' presidency was ended by his death March 17, 1928.