March 23, 2022
ETBU Provost and Vice President Thomas Sanders, in partnership with the Harrison County Historical Museum, presented the story of East Texas Baptist University and how it came to be at Memorial City Hall on Friday, March 25. The lecture was part of the Harrison County Historical Museum’s Journey Stories Lecture Series sponsored by the Jonesville Foundation.
“The vision for what the University is today began with the visionary Rev. WT Tardy, the first pastor of First Baptist Church in Marshall, who in 1912 founded the College of Marshall, now known as ETBU,” Dr. Sanders said. “He was a man with a mission, and he began to set a fire of excitement about what God could do in Marshall. Tardy’s vision was to educate the whole person, and that is still in our mission statement.”
Throughout its history, the University has been formally known as the College of Marshall, East Texas Baptist College, and finally, East Texas Baptist University. The original College of Marshall was founded by the people of Marshall for the people of Marshall, and today, 110 years later, the University prioritizes giving back to the community that built it from the ground up.
“When we talk about East Texas Baptist University, as the College of Marshall today, what does that mean?” Dr. Sanders added. “Part of the focus is service. Every year, our freshmen serve in local elementary schools. Our upperclassmen serve across East Texas in churches and in many nonprofits, including Mission Marshall, Habitat for Humanity, or even nurses serving in hospitals. So, East Texas Baptist University is still very much the College of Marshall. At the start of every academic year, we commemorate by drawing our students together. We talk about this light on the Hill. We go back to Tardy, and we grab those initial flickers for the College of Marshall, and our students gather around this light on the Hill, and we have a service where we celebrate, and we talk about what it means to be on this Hill and to carry this light across the world.”
As a Christ-centered institution, East Texas Baptist University educates students by integrating biblical faith and learning to develop mind, body, and soul through community engagement to prepare graduates to be Christian servant leaders in their calling to God and humanity. The legacy of WT Tardy provided a framework and foundation that the University still builds on today.
“The museum is always excited to showcase the people and places of Harrison County through our Journey’s Lecture and Learn series,” Museum Executive Director Becky Palmer said. “From the time of its inception to the present day, ETBU has enriched our community with its commitment to excellence and influence upon our county.”