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East Texas Baptist University reaches Mabee Challenge Grant goal of $6M

July 14, 2021

Thanks to the generosity of ETBU alumni and friends of the University, East Texas Baptist University has raised more than $6,000,000 for the Great Commission Center campaign. 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 mid-July 2021, in order to receive the challenge grant funds. The goal has officially been met, allowing the University to receive the challenge grant from the J. E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, bringing the total amount raised for the campaign to over $7,500,000. The Mabee Foundation has supported ETBU in the past, including $400,000 towards the renovation of the Marshall Grand for the ETBU School of Nursing and contributions to the Ornelas Housing Complex. However, this challenge grant marks the Mabee Foundation’s largest gift to ETBU. 

“Reaching the $6,000,000 goal prior to the Mabee Foundation challenge deadline is a significant accomplishment in the history of the institution,” Vice President for Advancement Scott Bryant said. “We made our proposal to the Mabee Foundation prior to the onset of the pandemic and were unsure of moving forward when we were issued the challenge grant in July of 2020. We did not want to miss the opportunity to receive such a sizable gift from the Mabee Foundation and decided to move forward on faith. God has been at work as ETBU alumni, and friends have partnered with us to make this vision a reality. What a privilege it has been for me to visit with alumni and donors as they have shared their desire to be part of this momentous project in the life of the institution. The Great Commission Center will be a blessing to ETBU students and to members of the ETBU community for generations to come.” 

The 23,500 square foot Great Commission Center will be home to one of ETBU's largest academic programs, the Fred Hale School of Business. A modern 21st-century learning center with a 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 new facility will also be the home to the Office of Career Development and the Great Commission Center program, which connects students, faculty, and staff with the local communities in East Texas, cities across the United States, as well as cultures across the globe in fulfillment of the Great Commission call in Scripture. 

"I am grateful that God has led so many of our alumni and friends of the University to contribute to this important campaign,” Dr. Bryant added. “Some have made their largest gift to the institution while others have made their first contribution. I am grateful to God for each and every member of the ETBU Family that partnered with us to meet the Mabee Challenge." 

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. ETBC Alumnus and Enterprise Products Group CEO Dr. Jim Teague ('68) gave the initial lead gift to set this vision into action. 

“On behalf of East Texas Baptist University, our students and future generations of servant-spirited graduates, we share our gratitude for our partners in creating this new wellspring to the Fred Hale School of Business and the programs for business training, entrepreneurship education, career development, and missions,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “The vision God gave us for the Great Commission Center is anchored to the purpose of East Texas Baptist University to faithfully fulfill our Christ-centered educational mission. For generations, supporters of the College of Marshall, East Texas Baptist College, and ETBU have patiently prayed and purposefully provided to advance God’s vision for our institution. This facility is more than bricks and mortar; it is the embodiment of our mission to teach and train civic-minded leaders for businesses, organizations, charities, and schools. I, along with the University Family, am so grateful for the benevolence of the generous individuals, organizations, and foundations who have partnered with us in this vision.” 

About the Mabee Foundation 

The Mabee Foundation was formed in 1948 by Missouri natives (and Oklahoma residents) John and Lottie Mabee. John, who did not complete high school, and Lottie were hard workers, innovative entrepreneurs and shrewd investors. Since its formation in 1948, the Mabee Foundation has made grants totaling over $1.2 billion for non-profit, 501©(3) organizations in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. The generosity and commitment to wise philanthropy of John and Lottie Mabee continues to inspire others and to enrich the lives of many today, as it has for the last 60 years.