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East Texas Baptist University receives grant from Dean Foundation for new William B. Dean, M.D. Center for Language and Literacy Development

September 3, 2021

The Dean Foundation has gifted East Texas Baptist University a grant of $500,000 to create the William B. Dean, M.D. Center for Language and Literacy Development. The Dean Center encompasses an expansion of ETBU’s downtown campus learning center at the Marshall Grand for the new Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program and the enhancement of the University’s student-focused Learning Support Services program.

“In honor of the late William B. Dean, M.D., noted pediatrician and pioneer in the field of learning challenges and dyslexia, and founder of the Dean Learning Center, East Texas Baptist University seeks to recognize and build upon Dr. Dean’s legacy as an esteemed medical leader and advocate for children with learning differences,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “ETBU’s Dean Center for Language and Literacy Development will pay tribute to Dr. Dean’s influential impact in people’s lives through his pedagogical and technical innovations for the learning challenged and through his community service engagement and life contributions.”

The William B. Dean, M.D. Center for Language and Literacy Development will be an approximately 4,000 square foot learning space on the 7th floor of East Texas Baptist University’s Marshall Grand. The Dean Center for Language and Literacy Development will serve as a speech-language pathology academic center, community treatment clinic, and a conduit for Learning Support Services.

“My father would be very, very proud to support training and education at ETBU, as am I,” President of the Dean Foundation and son of the late William B. Dean, M.D., Dr. David Dean said. “His life was about helping children be successful in learning. He would be humbled and excited to be involved with providing support services in the East Texas region and training skilled professionals to provide assistance. The Dean Foundation and its board members continue my father’s lifelong crusade to remove barriers to children’s educational pursuits, and this opportunity is divinely connected to our foundation’s mission. I can’t wait to see the dual purposes of the Dean Center for Language and Literacy Development engaging both ETBU students and regional community clients in learning and succeeding in school, college, graduate study, career, and life.”

With this generous support and program creation, ETBU is poised to serve as a model of excellence in these fields and will host annual professional development, symposiums, seminars, and workshops regarding challenges and opportunities which impact speech-language and literacy development through the Dean Center for Language and Literacy Development.

“We are super excited to partner with Dr. Blackburn and his amazing professional team at ETBU and can only imagine how the Lord will use these programs, facilities, and initiatives to accomplish His purposes in the lives of countless people,” Dr. Dean added.

Dr. Dean was instrumental in securing the Dean Foundation’s support for this project. His passion for honoring his father’s legacy is built into the details of the Dean Foundation’s gift as well as the structure of the William B. Dean, M.D. Center for Language and Literacy Development, along with the programs and initiatives that will take place within its walls.

“With the benevolent support of the Dean Foundation, $475,000 of the initial grant will underwrite the creation of the dedicated learning space for the Dean Center at the Marshall Grand,” Vice President for Advancement Scott Bryant said. “The additional $25,000 from the initial grant will be invested in the William B. Dean, M.D. Center for Language and Literacy Development Endowed Fund for the advancement of the Dean Center for program promotion, speech-language pathology graduate student scholarships, maintenance of the Dean Center, and annual Dean Center professional development programming.”

The Dean Center will include a clinic reception area, instructional classroom space, treatment clinic with a closed-circuit camera system and observation space, and auditory assessment labs, allowing supervisors and faculty to monitor therapy sessions in real-time. The new academic space will include a small kitchen lab equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, cabinets, and sink to properly store and manipulate food for swallowing and feeding therapy. The build-out will also consist of a resource area for graduate program students, administrative leadership space, and faculty offices.

“Given East Texas Baptist University’s distinctive Christ-centered mission for educating servant leaders, the University seeks to expand ETBU’s downtown campus learning center and enhance the University’s student-focused Learning Support Services program through the William B. Dean, M.D. Center for Language and Literacy Development,” ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. “The downtown campus at the historic Marshall Grand will train and equip students to serve and lead as professionals who work with students with differing learning styles which present challenges in speech-language, literacy, dyslexia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”

With the growing demand for speech-language pathology graduate programs in the East Texas region, East Texas Baptist University faces a shortage of dedicated space for meeting the needs of its community of Christian scholars. As a result, the University is committed to expanding graduate professional programs and equipping students through programs and services that advocate for student learning success.

“By enhancing ETBU’s student Learning Support Services, the University will be better equipped to provide essential accommodations for students to effectively transition to college and reach their maximum cognitive potential with no barriers to learning for greater student success,” Dr. Blackburn said. “Thanks to the generosity of the Dean Foundation, the augmentation of this student support services program will enable students to adapt their learning styles and to overcome learning challenges for achieving their educational goals, persisting to graduation, and pursuing their vocational callings.“