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ETBU Celebrates Dedication of Steve and Penny Carlile Hall

December 14, 2023

East Texas Baptist University has renamed the largest student residence hall on campus in honor of Steve and Penny Carlile. Originally dubbed Centennial Hall to mark the institution’s 100-year anniversary in 2012, the modern student residential facility will now be called Steve and Penny Carlile Hall in recognition of the Carliles’ Christian servant leadership and recent major gift to the University. The generous contribution and institutional investment from Steve and Penny Carlile supported building enhancements, lighting improvements, interior renovations, and landscaping additions throughout and around the 125,000-square-foot freshman student residence hall.

“I am so pleased that God provided this major gift of support to ETBU through Steve and Penny Carlile, and we look forward to having their legacies and names engraved on the campus of ETBU,” ETBU President Dr. J. Blair Blackburn said. “Steve and Penny Carlile Hall will reflect the Christian commitment, community leadership, and Kingdom legacy of the Carlile family. We are grateful for the Carliles’ Christian faith, business history success, family relationships, and service in the community along with their generosity to ETBU.”

Marshall residents Steve and Penny Carlile have been connected to East Texas Baptist University for many years, as both Steve and Penny previously served as members of the ETBU Board of Trustees. The Carliles have enjoyed a life-long relationship with the University as both Steve and Penny had parents who graduated from the institution. Steve’s parents, Quinton and Mildred Carlile, graduated from ETBU’s forerunner, the College of Marshall, in 1943. Penny’s father, Charlie H. Flowers, received a degree from East Texas Baptist College in 1953 and was later awarded an honorary doctorate from ETBU. With family legacies woven into the fabric of ETBU, and with the generous support of and service to the University for more than three decades, Steve and Penny Carlile continue to show their commitment to advancing the Christ-centered mission of the institution.

“For over 100 years, the College of Marshall, ETBC, and ETBU have impacted Marshall and Harrison County for good,” Steve and Penny Carlile reflected. “Godly men and women have led ETBU and strengthened our community with their hard work and devotion to Christ. Dr. Blackburn and his administrative team, along with Trustees, professors, and students, have built upon that foundation. The spiritual and financial impact that ETBU has made on our community over the last eight years under Dr. Blackburn’s leadership is incredible. The transformation of the ETBU campus and redevelopment of Marshall Grand and Synergy Park will change Marshall forever. ETBU is reflecting the light of Christ to every corner of East Texas and beyond. To God be the Glory!”

In the Fall of 2022, ETBU created Houses of Discipleship within the freshmen residence halls. The residential discipleship model in the freshmen residents’ facilities at East Texas Baptist fosters a sense of community through studying God’s Word and the biblical leaders found within Scripture. Devotionals and studies based on the lives of biblical leaders create a common discipleship language for students, resident advisors, and resident directors. Steve and Penny Carlile Hall is home to Joshua House for the men and Ruth House for the women. The story of Joshua's leadership, courage, and perseverance, along with Ruth's loyalty, love, and industry, can also be found in the life and legacy of Steve and Penny Carlile. High school sweethearts who married following graduation from Baylor University, they returned to their hometown of Marshall to build a life and leave a legacy for their family, church, and community.

Dr. Blackburn shared about the Carliles’ investment in the lives of ETBU students, “The story of Steve and Penny Carliles’ lives together and how they have served their community through their job creation, economic development, and generous gifts of charitable support reflect many of the qualities demonstrated by Joshua and Ruth. The Carliles’ model of entrepreneurial leadership and local community involvement as dedicated Christian servant leaders will be taught to freshmen students in the University’s freshmen foundations course, ‘Learning and Leading.’ In the course, students are introduced to the Christ-centered mission and core commitments of ETBU and will learn how Steve and Penny Carlile have demonstrated these tenets in their lives, words, and actions in business leadership, philanthropic investment, and community engagement.”

Steve and Penny Carlile Hall stands as the largest modern student residence hall on ETBU’s campus, holding 396 freshmen in two separate housing wings, united as a family under one roof. Each suite has four individual bedrooms and two bathrooms. In addition, Steve and Penny Carlile Hall features private suites for upperclassmen resident assistant leaders. Carlile Hall Residence Life staff hosts a variety of events to engage the students living in the hall, as well as the overall ETBU community. Steve and Penny Carlile Hall also hosts ETBU’s annual Color Run – a campus-wide 2K walk/run that promotes a healthy and active lifestyle while providing a fun opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to connect. 

“ETBU Student Engagement staff has the privilege of challenging and supporting students as they apply what they are learning in the classroom to everyday life,” Vice President of Student Engagement and Athletics Ryan Erwin commented. “Residence Life staff members demonstrate to students how to have healthy relationships with each other, and most importantly, they model a posture of devotion and fellowship with the Lord Jesus. We see this practically displayed as students embrace the college experience through Residence Life and the investment and mentoring that happens within the walls of Steve and Penny Carlile Hall.”