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ETBU makes the final push for Mabee Foundation grant

February 26, 2021

In January of 2020, the East Texas Baptist University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to launch a fundraising campaign to construct a 23,000 square feet facility, the Great Commission Center, which will be the future home to the Fred Hale School of Business, the Great Commission Program, and the Office of Career Development. In the summer of 2020, ETBU received a $1,500,000 challenge grant from the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation, requiring the University to raise $6,000,000 by July 1, 2021, in order to receive the $1,500,000 challenge grant funds. As of February 22, East Texas Baptist has $4,625,550 committed to the campaign. The University must raise an additional $1,374,450 by July 1, 2021, to reach the $6,000,000 goal and to receive the Mabee Foundation challenge grant of $1,500,000.

“When the board voted to move forward with this project, a vision was cast to construct not just a building, but a center for excellence in business education and a discipleship training facility to equip our students to go into the world as Christian servant leaders,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “We put our full trust in the Lord and the vision that He laid on our hearts, that He would provide the resources necessary to carry out this vision to completion. Through the generosity of the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation and the University supporters who have partnered with us on this project so far, God is faithfully fulfilling His promises. It is truly humbling to witness as we fervently pray and diligently work to meet the goal for the challenge grant.”

The project is estimated to cost $7,500,000 to construct. Enterprise Products Partners CEO and ETBU Alumnus Dr. Jim Teague (’68) gave the initial lead gift to launch the campaign. The Great Commission Center campaign has received support from former students, businesses, foundations, and friends of the University.

"The Great Commission Center facility is a demonstration of our institutional belief that all followers of Christ have a role to play in the fulfillment of the Great Commission,” Vice President for Advancement Scott Bryant said. “God has prompted many alumni and supporters to partner with us on this important campaign. The symbolism of the Great Commission Center and the Kingdom purposes of the proposed facility have captured the attention of our supporters."

Inspired by Baker Library at Harvard University, which also houses the Harvard Business School, this new building will become the focal symbol for quality Christian education, servant leadership development, and excellence in business leadership and ethics throughout the East Texas region and the Southern United States. The facility will also be home to one of ETBU's largest academic programs, the Fred Hale School of Business. Located in the central quadrant of academic life, the Great Commission Center will grant the Hale School of Business prominence as a premier program of study. A modern 21st-century learning center with historic architectural and educational identity will advance the Hale Business School's awareness, relevance, and reputation as a leading Christ-centered business school for undergraduate and graduate studies.

“The Great Commission Center housing the Fred Hale School of Business as a concept is not far from the strategy used by the first-century missionaries, Paul, Priscilla and Aquilla,” ETBU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. “They paired their trade with their faith. The entrepreneurial spirit of these leaders to use their skills and abilities to further the gospel is exactly what we hope to do through the Great Commission Center. Instead of separating profession and faith….we seek a holistic preparation for calling.”

To find more information or to make a contribution to the Great Commission Center campaign, visit