Hilltop | Summer 2020

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ETBU SALUTES TIGER SERVANT LEADERS IN HEALTH CARE REMAINING SOCIALLY CONNECTED WHILE PHYSICALLY DISTANCED Also Inside: Tiger Softball finishes season ranked #1 Spring 2020 Class celebrated at "in-person" and "virtual" commencement



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President's Message


Community with Christ

10 Turning Hard Work into a Home ETBU partners with Northeast Texas Habitat

during the Coronavirus pandemic

challenges in the reality of COVID-19

26 Answering the Calls Technology takes the Coronavirus crisis in stride for

effective learning

29 Physically Distanced—Socially Connected ETBU community remains united despite pandemic obstacles

32 ETBU Crowns Senior Haley Harmening Miss ETBU 2020

38 Keeping the Promise ETBU celebrates Spring 2020 Class at "in-person"



24 Q&A with Larry Northcutt A discussion of how ETBU University Security embraces new

for Humanity to build new home for Marshall family

14 Tigers on the Front Lines ETBU Alumni working in health care shine a light



and "virtual" commencement

46 Expanding Master's Degree Programs Providing increased opportunity in light of COVID-19 through


TJC partnership, new graduate programs, and ETBU-Tyler


Letters and comments can be sent to: alumni@ETBU.edu

50 A Vision Brought to Fruition Walls of Chapel on the Hill covered with Scriptures and prayers

56 Sports Highlights

66 Traditions of Excellence

Update online: Visit: www.ETBU.edu/ alumniupdate

ETBU Nursing and Elementary Teacher preparation programs top ranked in nation and state

76 Accent on Alumni


Please send any information for publishing or change of personal information to: Alumni Relations East Texas Baptist University One Tiger Drive Marshall, TX 75670 903.923.2071

President’s Message Dear Alumni, Friends, and Family of East Texas Baptist, The University celebrated the start of the Spring 2020 semester with the highest recorded spring enrollment in University history as 1,405 new and returning students began or continued their pursuit of Christ-centered education here on the Hill. We hit the ground running with a renewed hope and anticipation as we rounded the corner into not only a new year, but a new decade. A decade with which to set new milestones, transform lives, and make an even greater impact on the community and across the world, as we faithfully carry out our mission and calling to be the Light on the Hill. As 2020 began, there was no way we could have foreseen what was in store. This year, our mission has especially weighed heavily on my heart, as we confront and deal with the devastating disease facing America and the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and too many other innocent lives taken from family and friends. As a Christ-centered university, it is our mission to shape minds and hearts by integrating our Christian faith through the teaching of God's truths, showing love, and taking the Gospel of peace to unite hearts and communities. As I read (and re-read) that phrase, I have to pause in an abundance of emotion. I am overwhelmed with excitement and burden about this responsibility we all share together. What a bold statement of who ETBU is, what we have been charged to do, how we convey our mission through education. This statement is so powerful—I sincerely believe this is our assignment, our ambition, our aim, and I trust you recognize with me, it must be carried out with our action, because as James 2:14-26 states, faith without works is dead. My hope is that within the pages of this issue of The Hilltop, you will discover how East Texas Baptist University has carried out its mission in the midst of a broken and hurting world. I invite you to explore how our faculty, staff, and students have handled an unprecedented time of fear, worry, and anxiety with great understanding, perseverance, and a steadfastness that only comes from hope and security in Christ. Through the stories in these pages, you will realize that the pain and scars this pandemic and the racial injustice and inequality in our nation leaves behind will not diminish the Jesus' light in and through us on the Hill. That in a time of physical distancing, we found ways to remain spiritually and socially connected, and that we will reunite on the Hill this fall as a university that is stronger than ever before. The Tiger Spirit is alive and well, and together we will emerge on the other side of this season as a stronger, more united Tiger Family for the Kingdom of God. Let us have faith in the Lord Jesus and place our trust in God’s redeeming plan. With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to face adversity as a body of believers and model perseverance and love. ETBU celebrates the diversity of our campus community members with heritages that have shaped each of us into who we are and who we are to be in Christ. We praise God that He created ETBU to be a mosaic quilt of people of faith, who represent the communities and cultures of our East Texas region and beyond. We are grateful for all the students God has called to be a part of our University, and we thank the families of our students, who have entrusted their children to us as partners in their education. With God's calling to be a Christ-centered university equipping students to be engaged and empowered citizens, East Texas Baptist must be an example by standing firm and speaking boldly in our commitment to proclaim and advance the equality and dignity of all people. The ETBU Family must labor to ensure that every person is respected, valued, and protected. East Texas Baptist Family, as Americans and Christians, we should be a model of love and peace, while striving to unite in the love that Jesus has for all, who God created in His image. ETBU is resilient. ETBU is strong. ETBU is unwavering. We will survive the storm, because we have a Lord and Savior, who calms the winds and quiets the waters. Empowered by Jesus’ Spirit in us, we are God’s people and this is His University. We can follow our University theme verse of Proverbs 3:5-6 for inspiration and incorporation to place our trust in the Lord and seek His wisdom for our path forward. Keep praying, stay healthy, and carry on!

Dr. J. Blair Blackburn President

"TRUST IN THE LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT." Proverbs 3:5-6


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How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1 "The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-31

“We are called to pray, and we are called to act. Our campus community must confront, condemn, and commit to stopping racism in its tracks. So when we see it, when we hear it, when we experience it, ETBU must speak up, speak out, and speak against! The ETBU Family must labor to ensure that every person is respected, valued, and protected.” —President J. Blair Blackburn

CO UNIT W CHRI "Praise the Lord for ETBU stepping up to be the Light on the Hill and beyond." —Yvonne Juarez

"We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." 1 John 4:19-20 "Thank you all so much—


faculty, staff & student body— for representing Jesus well yesterday and uniting under the banner of love! Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!" —Mobolaji Laja-Akintayo

"Proud to be a Tiger. Communication is the key. Listening opens the door for better understanding and appreciation of our fellow man! Tiger Proud '99." —Leatrious Mitchell (’99) "We have to keep working toward unity. We have to change our language. We have to change the way we communicate. We have to recognize that we are all created in the image of God. We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made." —Reverend James Webb, Vice Chair of ETBU Board of Trustees



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Jesus shows us it must be personal. We must recognize before the community can be different, before our campus can be different, before our country can be different, I must be different. Jesus took I personally. I am responsible for change, I will make a difference in keeping the campus safe, I will make a difference in maintaining and improving race relations, I will make a difference in carrying out the mission of East Texas Baptist University. REVEREND JAMES WEBB VICE CHAIR OF ETBU BOARDHilltop OF TRUSTEES Summer 2020 9



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INTO A HOME ETBU partners with Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity to build new home for Marshall family


ust as building materials are essential to the solid foundation of a house, community engagement is a key component in the foundation of the ETBU student experience. East Texas Baptist University students joined up with a Marshall single mother and her sons to work side by side during their Spring Break in order to build the family a brand new home through Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity. Marshall mom of five and Certified Nursing Assistant LaToya Brooks completed the 18+ month long process, thanks to the help of more than 200 ETBU faculty and students who volunteered their Spring Break to help build Brooks’ new three bedroom, two bathroom home in Marshall. Brooks first applied for the home through Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity in late 2018 and was notified she qualified for the at cost mortgage on the home in the summer of 2019. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was so excited and humbled. This is truly a blessing. To be able to say ‘I’m a homeowner,’ that’s just amazing.” Habitat, a 501©3 nonprofit, is able to help build and finance new homes at an affordable rate to qualifying families, due to the donations of local residents, businesses, and organizations like ETBU, Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity CEO LaJuan Gordon said. “This is a hand up, not a hand out,” Gordon said. “The homeowner will have put in a $1,000 down payment and more than 350 volunteer hours by the time their new home is built. They also attend financial classes to help them understand mortgages, property taxes, and home insurance, so we can help them keep and maintain their home.” ETBU owned and donated the parcel of land on which Brooks’ and a future Habitat home will be built, helping Habitat build the home at a reduced cost. Several business sponsors and individuals also donated materials and services to help with the home build. “ETBU has rehabbed about 15 homes in the community over the past four and a half years as part of our Neighborhood Renewal Initiative we started in 2016,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “This


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is ETBU’s first ‘BLITZ’ home build in partnership with Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity. The University has also acquired 16 vacant properties in deplorable conditions and removed the houses and debris so future homes for Marshall families and students can be built.” East Texas Baptist owns seven more properties which it plans to donate to provide affordable, quality housing in Marshall. “I personally knew Millard Fuller, who started Habitat for Humanity in Georgia and the Fuller Center for Housing. I had the opportunity to help build a number of houses with him, so to know ETBU is now carrying on his vision is incredible.” Dr. Blackburn added. “This is the first of many homes ETBU will build with Habitat in our community. When people have a safe home in a secure neighborhood, it changes the quality of their life. As servant leaders, we are trying to set a model for other organizations and businesses to adopt this community renewal initiative to bring new homes to Marshall and transform our community.”



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ENHANCING COMMUNITY East Texas Baptist recognized as Tree Campus USA


he Arbor Day Foundation recognized East Texas Baptist as a 2019 Tree Campus USA university. Tree Campus USA is an Arbor Day Foundation program that honors colleges and universities and their leadership for promoting healthy trees, and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. “East Texas Baptist is grateful to have our Director of Landscaping Jason Funderburk, who cares for our campus every day,” Assistant Vice President for University Operations Chris Crawford said. “Because of his leadership, our campus is recognized for being one of the most beautiful in Texas, and we are proud to receive recognition as a Tree Campus USA institution.” In order to achieve this recognition, the University met the five core standards for sustainable campus forestry required by Tree Campus USA, including: establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects. “We continue to grow the Tree Campus USA program and drive more campuses across America to strive for Tree Campus USA recognition each year," president of the Arbor Day Foundation Dan Lambe said. "This program sets an example for not only students, but the surrounding communities on how trees are a critical part of healthier and more sustainable communities." In honor of Texas’ Arbor Day in November, a group

of Tiger student leaders helped plant five Live Oak trees in front of the new Oaks on Grove Townhomes along North Grove Street, and the ETBU Landscaping team planted an additional 50+ more trees at sites across the East Texas Baptist campus. “The most important part of the tree planting to me was seeing fellow ETBU students and athletes all together for a good cause,” freshman Tiger Baseball player Jake Miller said. “I thought it was really cool to be able to plant trees that will be here for future students, because it will make the campus more elegant and beautiful when they begin to sprout with leaves and life. It was really special being able to plant trees that will be here for years after me, because whenever I come back to visit, I will see the tree that I helped plant and remember the good times with my teammates.” ETBU continues to foster and create opportunities for the University community to donate their time and service for the efforts of campus beautification and for the sustainability of the Marshall community. "ETBU and the Arbor Day Foundation share a vision to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty, and hunger," ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. "We want our students to understand the story of God's creation and our responsibility as His stewards to care for the Earth He entrusted to us."


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on the ETBU Alumni working in health care shine a light during COVID-19 Pandemic


here have been increased opportunities to recognize and honor those in the health care field for the incredibly challenging and arduous tasks they deal with every day as front-line caregivers confronting COVID-19. The compassionate, nurturing voice of a nurse can often comfort a person’s pain, and put a worried heart at ease. Doctors must possess a level of strength and humility beyond what the eye can see, not fearing failure, but learning from their new experiences. These heroes of health each must remain vigilant through every situation, and work to promote healing on behalf of total strangers. Those working in the health care field have a God-given calling to put the needs of others above their own as they incorporate skill, knowledge, and expertise with care, compassion, kindness, and empathy. To each of our ETBU Tiger Alumni serving in health care, we thank you! For the service you render, for the compassion you give, for the light you shine - we thank you for answering the call.



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“I work in the Neonatal ICU with the tiniest patients. The effects of COVID-19 did not discriminate against any unit. Just like everywhere across the country, we have to wear special PPE during the shift. Wearing these things really makes you appreciate breathing in fresh air! This pandemic has also affected visitation policies, supply availability, and other areas. I am thankful that I work with a great group of nurses who can pull together and make the most of a situation with the cards we were dealt. COVID-19 has been a struggle for everyone in the world. One of the biggest challenges has been my morale. When life is turned upside down and you’re told you can’t see family and friends or interact with people in the way that our human nature demands, it can be hard. I value hugs and quality time so much more now and hope that we can get back to a sense of normalcy one day. Working in health care during this pandemic has made me even more proud that I chose nursing as my career. I have wanted to be a nurse my entire life and working in times such as these really feels like a call to duty. I have grown so much in the five years since graduating from ETBU. I have gained more confidence in myself and am able to better support the spiritual and emotional well-being of the families I interact with. I have also taken on more job responsibilities as I have grown as a nurse, and enjoy sharing knowledge with the younger nurses who are in a place where I was just a short time ago. I loved going to a school where Christ is at the center. Something that our nursing program has that others don’t is the holistic aspect of not only caring for a patient physically, but also prioritizing their spiritual and emotional health as well. We had professors that lead by example and would pray with us, and encouraged us to do the same with our patients when they needed it. Working in health care can be tough sometimes. Being able to pray not only for myself and co-workers when times get tough, but also praying for my patients during some of the biggest battles of their lives is something that stems from the leadership of the faculty and staff at ETBU. Although these are challenging times, I know that God is in control and has a plan for us. My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11. ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,”’ declares the LORD, ‘“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’ With God on our side, we can and will get through this together!”


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JOSEPH EARLE `19 REGISTERED NURSE CHRISTUS TRINITY MOTHER FRANCES | TYLER, TEXAS "There are many challenges and hardships I know all of us are facing during this time, but a specific challenge that I would like to share is seeing patients alone in the hospital rooms. No one deserves to be sick and stuck at the hospital, not able to see loved ones. When you are in a room all by yourself, anxiety and fear can be your worst enemy. Even though it’s tough to see, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to be there for any needs my patients might have. Hospital-wide, we still have the same goal, same mindset, and passion for caring for our patients. But the environment still has changed. We’ve adapted to this virus by being more attentive to the care of each patient. The ETBU Nursing Program prepared me spiritually with a firm foundation to build and grow



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from. Nursing is an ideal profession to incorporate and demonstrate God’s love to others, and ETBU has taken full advantage of the opportunity to build Christ-centered nurses. Looking back on my first year as a nurse, I realize that God has protected me every step of the way. I have learned a lot through my mistakes, my failures, but also through the success I have had. I have been lucky to follow and learn under great nurses. Overall the Lord has been evident in my life through my experience so far, and I can’t wait for the future. COVID-19 has only sharpened my skills and my faith in the Lord. Through this viral pandemic, whether we feel it or not, God is still in control. Be smart, and have precaution, but don't go on in fear."

“I feel that ETBU has prepared me to put God first in all things that I do. I was in a major car crash in April of 2011, 11 months after graduating from ETBU. I was able to experience what a patient experiences while they are in the hospital. While that might have been a bad situation back then, I now use it as a testimony to people I encounter on a daily basis. Personally, being able to share about how I kept my faith in God after being hospitalized following a major car wreck has been a blessing to others throughout their hospital stay. I have shared what God has brought me through and how I overcame with His mercy. My biggest challenges throughout COVID-19 have been staying positive throughout this process and to keep my eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. During this time, I have leaned on the promises and comfort found in the Scripture from Psalm 91:1-7, 9-10. At work we have had our hours cut, and of course, have an increased risk of infection of disease. At the

beginning of this pandemic, there was high anxiety among most hospital employees. But even with those negative things, I have found more time to be at home and communicate with family and friends on a more regular basis. I have also seen love pour out from ETBU, such as the medical care package received in the mail, people of all backgrounds coming together to help out for one global cause, such as making face masks and face shields. Even though there have been a lot of negatives as a result of COVID-19, I can’t help but rejoice because of all the positives I have seen from people uniting together. I want to thank ETBU for always keeping me in their prayers. Ten years later, I truly feel that ETBU still treats me as family as if I never left. I’m so grateful and honored to be an alumnus of an elite school and the #1 nursing program in the state of Texas.”



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LAUREN VAUGHAN `18 REGISTERED NURSE WILLIS-KNIGHTON MEDICAL CENTER | SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA “The greatest challenge throughout the COVID-19 crisis has been fear of the unknown. When this started, we all seemed to be in the dark about this disease process. We didn’t know what to tell our patients and we weren’t sure if we could protect ourselves and our own families. Fortunately, I work in an outstanding facility with great leadership. The administration at my hospital did a wonderful job keeping staff updated which minimized anxiety and maximized productivity. I believe that, even with the negative effects of this crisis, the positive effects are many. One of the best things about the past few months is the strengthening of the team I work with. We feel like we are overcoming this crisis together. We are supporting each other and the trust we have for each other has grown greatly. Being a health care professional during an international pandemic has been interesting to say the least. My strengthened trust in the Lord is the best thing that has come from this experience. When there are no answers from earthly sources, the Lord is a stronghold that provides peace! Receiving an education from ETBU equipped me to incorporate a spiritual focus into the process of healing the physical body. My professors gave me the courage to be willing to pray with a patient or family member when they feel hopeless, and rejoice with them when treatments are successful. It can make a profound difference in patient outcomes if a patient feels at peace emotionally and spiritually. I am forever grateful for the time I spent at ETBU. It has completely shaped my approach to service-oriented work. May the Light on the Hill never die!”



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KINDNESS UNMASKED ETBU Mask Ministry shares God’s love during pandemic


or those in East Texas who were on the frontlines fighting the virus, and for those whose businesses were deemed essential and allowed to continue operating, masks were the surest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in public. However, due to being in great demand, masks and other health care personal protective equipment quickly became scarce. Realizing the dangers of this scarcity, ETBU hastened to help. “The ETBU Marketing and Communication Department, under the leadership of Becky Davis, contacted ETBU alumni health care professionals to ask what their needs were as they worked to identify and treat COVID-19 patients,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “Hundreds of ETBU Tigers requested any type of personal protection equipment, including N95 masks, cloth masks, gloves, shields, and gowns, as their supplies were critically low. Some ETBU nursing graduates reported they were down to only one or two N95 masks that they had to attempt to clean and reuse.” In response to this call for help, members of the East Texas Baptist University campus community came together to create and deliver over 2,000 cloth face masks. While the ministry’s first priority was to provide masks to ETBU graduates who



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It is the little crumbs of our lives, of our walk with Jesus, of the relationships we build that grow us, shape us, and move us toward our own heaven-bound 'finished product.' JAMYE FERGUSON MASK MINISTRY COORDINATOR work in health and safety environments and essential businesses, the ministry eventually expanded to make as many masks as possible for members of the University family who needed them. Two dozen volunteers, including ETBU faculty and staff members, students, trustees, and local high school students, participated in sewing face coverings and stuffing care packages. “The Mask Ministry moved forward with the joy of giving and the hope of helping the brave first

responders who were on the battlefront,” ETBU Administrative Secretary for Institutional Technology Danna Robins commented. “I did not realize we had so many Tiger Alumni in that field. It was our spiritual duty to do what we could, and the goal of 2,000 masks was reached!” Jamye Ferguson, ETBU School Relations Coordinator, spearheaded the project, created the mask pattern, acquired supplies, and organized volunteers. These servant leaders helped where they could, whether their skills lay in cutting fabric, sewing, packing, or delivering. These simple skills, when combined, spread the hope and peace of Christ to others using their God-given talents to be a light to their patients. “After the ministry began, it became evident that several faculty and staff members wanted to help us,” ETBU Tiger Cheer Head Coach Farrah Dunaway shared. “Although many did not know how to sew, they were willing to lift a hand in several other ways that proved to be highly advantageous. As we created the masks, we were affirmed in knowing Christ’s protection for us and our future in a time of great uncertainty. I truly enjoyed being able to use a simple skill to help my brothers and sisters in Christ be proactive during this time of need, as well as getting to know more of our faculty and staff on a deeper level during this pandemic.” While the masks were being made, prayers were offered for the continued safety of health care workers who continue to fight the virus on the frontlines. Volunteers prayed for them to be the hands and feet of God as they cared for those affected by the pandemic. “During the time I helped out with ETBU's Mask Ministry, I would help cut out the polypropylene fabric, which was used between the layers of cloth to help provide more protection while keeping masks breathable,” ETBU junior behavioral sciences major Misael Covarrubias said. “That was my favorite part, even though at times I would finish the day off with bruises on my hands. With every single piece of fabric that I would cut, I would pray and ask God to protect the ones who would receive a mask made by the ministry and for the person to continue to see God’s love in the midst of these chaotic and unpredictable times.” Although the time during which these masks were made may have seemed dark, Mask Ministry Coordinator Jamye Ferguson made sure the joy of the Lord was present in every facet of the ministry. She made Colossians 3:23 the go-to verse of the mission and her leadership of it: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” "During this quilting project I found a precious word from the Lord — 'every crumb counts.' Regardless of size, shape, color, or pattern, each has a necessary impact on the finished product. Every hand, every heart, every stitch, every cut, every piece counts. It is the little crumbs of our lives, of our walk with Jesus, of the relationships we build that grow us, shape us, and move us toward our own heaven-bound 'finished product.' And without each crumb, it would all look so different."


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A discussion of how ETBU Campus Security embraces new challenges in the world of COVID-19

No one would have been able to predict that the ETBU Family would not be able to return to campus the week following Spring Break 2020. But as the novel coronavirus swept the nation, it quickly became apparent that it was no longer safe to allow faculty, staff, and students to congregate on campus. However, not all University personnel left campus to hunker down safely in their homes—there were those few who remained behind the scenes and gates, endeavoring to keep our campus as safe and healthy as possible. ETBU Director of Security, Compliance, and Accountability Larry Northcutt was responsible for planning and implementing a strategic course of action for ETBU Security amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Here, Larry speaks about the challenges that have presented themselves as well as the successes new safety protocols have brought forth for the University community. Can you describe some of the new security protocols that were put into effect because of COVID-19? When did these changes take place? When COVID-19 started to catch steam around Spring Break, we had to make some tough decisions among our administration to ensure our campus community was as safe as it could be. Our goal was to assure the ETBU Family that we had their best interest and health in mind during every decision we made to protect them from COVID-19. One of the first things we decided to change was how people were able to access campus. If you have been around ETBU, you know that there are a myriad entrance points into our campus. It was our goal to control access for health screening, so we formulated a plan to block all points of access except for the entrance off of East Avenue. Once we established this plan, we then set up a main checkpoint, where our University Security Officers, who have been on the grounds since Spring Break, started checking people in on March 16. We worked closely with our administration and health care experts to create an approved list of those who were screened by the Health and Safety Task Force and cleared to enter. This gave us a measure of control so that only people who had been reviewed by our health care experts were granted access to enter campus. Additionally, all buildings were secured with only a select few doors being accessible. Our officers have worn masks and safety glasses throughout the process to be a model for safety awareness and health promotion. We also staffed additional officers on duty 24/7 to help with patrol and anything that our campus community needed during the initial months of the health crisis.



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How has the University Family worked with you in continuing to make things safe for everyone involved? The ETBU Family has been outstanding in their support of the safety actions we implemented. Sometimes change can be extremely hard for people, especially when it happens overnight, like it did with our campus access protocols. Our University Community did not balk at the measures and remained fully supportive. From students to faculty to staff, they were all respectful and understood why we needed to implement our health and safety checkpoint. How has the time commitment for ETBU Security officers increased? The time commitment increased at first for our officers because we went from working 16 hour days to 24 hour days. When we first started the check point, we had officers who were willing to completely change and increase their time commitments in order to fulfill our security needs. These officers did this without complaining and maintained the highest of professional standards. It has been amazing watching these officers adapt and overcome during a very difficult time. With the way this pandemic changes rapidly, we are sometimes forced to change protocols on a daily basis. Our officers continue to receive new protocols and implement them without hesitation. They have been true professionals during this entire process.

How have ETBU Security officers remained encouraged during this time of crisis? The University Family has been the biggest encouragement for our officers. The support they have given during this crisis remains unmatched. They provided coffee, donuts, snacks, prayers, and words of encouragement. Little actions like these go a long way in encouraging the officers who continue to work diligently to keep our campus safe. It has been encouraging to watch these officers work because they have maintained strong work ethics, showed up to serve every day, and adapted to an ever-changing environment. They are one of the main reasons the campus continues to effectively and efficiently operate, and they deserve to be recognized. What are some things ETBU Security is continuing to do to ensure the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students? University Security opened up some of our entrances during the day for normal operation but there will continue to be a checkpoint at night, which is going to help monitor traffic going in and out of campus after hours. Security is maintaining the increased staffing on duty at all times, which allows for more ground coverage and faster response times. More lighting was installed this summer around ETBU, as well as perimeter security fencing with gate controls. Rapid-scan temperature stations have been set up around campus to allow individuals to check their temperature should they suspect illness. All of these measures are significant steps in continuing to keep our University as safe and secure as possible for the University faculty, staff, students and guests.

Larry Northcutt accepts the 2019-2020 ETBU J. Ward Walker Award

Larry Northcutt exemplifies servant leadership. Because every day for as long as I’ve known him, but especially as we have approached this very difficult situation over the last several months, Larry was on the frontlines. He never asked his team to do something he wasn’t willing to do, he frequently was available late at night, and on weekends. Larry was on call with ever-changing instructions and always responded in a way that kept us as safe as we possibly could be. EMILY PREVOST ASSOCIATE PROVOST AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF RELIGION AND Summer 2020 25 Hilltop LEADERSHIP



Technology takes COVID-19 crisis in stride for effective learning


he challenge seemed insurmountable. There was a rising number of those infected in the United States and COVID-19 was quickly closing in on Harrison County. In response, ETBU hustled to follow all guidelines propagated from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) while also continuing with the Christian academic mission of the University. No one at East Texas Baptist wanted to leave a student's quality education to chance. The challenge enveloped the campus, but nowhere was this more apparent than in the Institutional Technology (IT) and Online Education. In a single week, the two departments were responsible for assisting to bring the entirety of campus learning completely online. “We are thankful we have the necessary technology infrastructure already in place. Items like VPN, Campus Connect, and Canvas allow our faculty, students, and staff to continue with their courses and work with minimal interruption,” Director of Institutional Technology Barry Hale shared. “We added another video conferencing tool (Zoom) into our infrastructure as an additional method for our faculty and students to meet face to face, and also to allow our employees to have video meetings.” Aside from answering questions and working at an increased pace, the IT Department’s day-to-day operations remained largely the same even during quarantine. "It was so fast,” Administrative Assistant Danna Robins explained. “The transition to working from home happened so quickly. I had my whole dining room set up as an office because I was on call all day." ETBU Alumnus Glenn Scott was instrumental in keeping the systems functioning and assisting with questions. "Whatever the cause, we may not always be able to



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meet in person, so being prepared or ready to do more of an online scenario honestly gave us a better sense of how the learning environment can happen remotely,” Scott said. “The student outcome remained positive through the virtual learning modality. It's another way to communicate with students and continue our mission. I think overall that was a good thing." Tom Bryant approached the concept of remote learning with a unique perspective in that he was both the System Administrator as well as a student. "As an employee and student, I took most of my classes online prior to COVID, so I already know how difficult online classes can be if you’re not an organized person with time management skills. Having been through this I can imagine how difficult it can be for some, but the younger generation is great at adapting and overcoming. Our faculty and staff were all so willing to just go with it and jump right in.” Through all of the rapid adjustments and adaptations, their faith kept them going. “When people are faced with adversity, change, hardships or uncertainty it can often lead them to places of anxiety, discouragement, frustration and even despair,” Hale shared. “As my team and I began helping our students and employees make the transition to off-site learning and work, we prayed often for peace, encouragement, understanding, and definitely patience for them and for us! But it’s in the difficult circumstances of life that if we’ll run to God, we can come to know Him in a deeper, more meaningful way than we ever have before.” The IT Department ensured quality online education and effective remote work in the midst of the global pandemic, and will continue to serve as the University enters the fall semester.

Tom Bryant ('20) We had to put more focus on making sure our internet bandwidth was sufficient enough to handle the load of all of the online Zoom meetings during New Student Orientation. After the initial anxiety, I was able to take a breath and remember that God is still in control. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.� Deuteronomy 31:6

Glenn Scott ('96) I think the biggest modification on the scene, as everything launched, was pretty much internal. I was a little concerned with the faculty having to take the classes that they are used to teaching face-to-face for years and digitally do it through Canvas. I focused mostly on making sure the systems were running, and that things were continuing on seamlessly. It was a little scary and a little heart racking. I think that faculty and staff really stepped up to the plate and handled everything well.

Josh Anderson At the start of the crisis, my days often consisted of building laptops. Every staff member had to work from home during the virtual learning and remote work periods, so I worked to ensure that laptops were available to those individuals who were not able to be on campus.

Danna Robins I noticed the way people communicated with one another began to change. At the end of a phone call or an email, you would hear or read things like "be safe" or "be well," and that was kind of a nice change. I noticed a lot of that in emails and in phone calls. The verse I've held onto this year is Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God."

BEHIND THE SCENES As Dr. Colleen Halupa watched the numbers of COVID-19 cases across the nation and county rise, she was well aware that she could and would help to keep East Texas Baptist on track for both students and staff. Working under pressure was nothing new for the former US Airforce Biomedical Sciences officer. "Right before Spring Break when it looked like we might be closing for a time, I knew there were a lot of things I would have to do in order to get faculty ready," Dr Colleen Halupa, Dean of Online Education, shared. "I think one of the things that helped the most was ramping faculty up on the use of Zoom and Conferences in Canvas so they could meet with their students virtually." Even though the hours were long and it was frantic, Halupa counted the time in quarantine as the most rewarding for her personally of all of her time at ETBU. "I could not have gotten through without God. As the year continues, He has given me the strength and guidance to give my best work for faculty (and students indirectly)."Summer 2020 27 Hilltop

THANK YOU Baptist General Convention of Texas for your faithful support of East Texas Baptist University. Since the year 2000, through gifts to the Texas Baptist Cooperative Program, the BGCT has given more than $21 million to ETBU. We are grateful for your generosity.



For2020 more Summer

information about Texas Baptists visit txb.org

PHYSICALLY DISTANCED ETBU Community remains united despite COVID-19 obstacles Scan the QR Code to watch ETBU's "King of King's Sing-a-Long." Hilltop

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For the first time in University history, ETBU harnessed the power of technology to host online chapel services. The Tiger Family was invited to join in the special time of worship and virtual gathering. The services featured student-led worship and encouraging messages to inspire the campus community to stay connected and unified despite physical distance, and served as an opportunity to pray fervently for the health and safety of ETBU faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

As COVID-19 halted inperson student life on campus altogether, members of the Tiger community participated in a virtual Sing-A-Long of Hillsong Worship’s “King of Kings.” Thank you to all the members of the ETBU Family who joined together to make this possible. The SingA-Long was another way the University connected through worship during the time spent apart.

The traditional Miss ETBU Pageant looked a bit different this year as contestants participated in online interviews, written essays, question-and-answer sessions, and online voting. Congratulations to this year's Miss ETBU Scholarship Pageant winners: 2020 Miss ETBU Haley Harmening, First RunnerUp Bailey Snow, and Second Runner-Up Cayce Billingsley. We are so proud of all of our 2020 Miss ETBU contestants!

We have to focus on the good things, what will make us better in the future. I think that’s part of our faith, reflecting on how God has been faithful in this unpredictable situation. 30





Over 20 young women virtually participated in this year’s Senior Girl Call-Out, East Texas Baptist’s longest standing tradition. Although the ceremony was presented differently this year, the sentiment remains the same as the University community honored the tradition of recognizing outstanding senior women for their Christian character, campus achievements, and community service. Congratulations to ETBU's 2020 Senior Girl Call-Out: Emily Hicks!

Tigers were encouraged to engage in ETBU life from wherever they were across the state and country by participating in the ETBU TikTok Challenge. To be eligible to win, the TikToks had to be created by current ETBU Tigers, and contain creative content that reflected the University spirit. With more than 100 video submissions, three winners were announced: Anthony Gipson, Carson Rucker, and Ethan Cook.

New and prospective Tigers participated in one of three Virtual New Student Orientations (NSO) throughout May and June, where they were given insight on what it’s like to be a part of the ETBU Family, and had the chance to virtually visit with academic advisors and get registered for classes. The NSO experience connected students to their new college community. We can’t wait to welcome these new Tigers to life on the Hill.

Scan the QR Code to take a virtual campus tour!


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Being involved at ETBU has shaped my entire college experience. HALEY HARMENING MISS ETBU 2020



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As COVID-19 swept across the world and made its way into the rural communities of East Texas, ETBU had to find new ways to remain connected through the Spring 2020 semester. In a time of immense uncertainties, it was important for the University to preserve some sense of normalcy for faculty, staff, and most importantly, for Tiger students. While the worldwide health pandemic may have taken away having time together on campus, it could not take away time-honored traditions. As the Tiger spirit ran deep, traditions that have withstood the test of time would not be shaken by physical separation. Haley Harmening, a senior worship studies major from Richmond, Texas, was crowned as the 64th Miss ETBU. Harmening, who is actively involved at ETBU and in the surrounding East Texas community, was selected from eight contestants during the 2020 annual pageant sponsored by ETBU’s Student Government Association. Sophomore speech communication major Bailey Snow from Henderson was selected as first runner up, and junior elementary education major Cayce Billingsley was selected as second runner up. “Representing our University as Miss ETBU is such an unexpected honor,” Harmening said. “This is going to be a platform for God and God alone! I will do my part to serve our community, to remain involved in as much as possible on campus, to love everyone as Jesus would, and to be a light on the Hill. My fellow Tigers are so important to me and I truly want the best for our institution. I pray that in my reign as Miss ETBU through the 2020-2021 school year, people see Jesus, and not Haley.” Throughout her time at ETBU, Harmening has been actively involved on campus through participation in Hilltop Singers, Lampsato Worship Band, Chapel Band, Concert Choir, ETBU Theatre, Marching Band, and serves as a Resident Assistant and Tiger Camp leader. “Being involved at ETBU has shaped my entire college experience,” Harmening said. “If I would not have chosen to be a part of our campus life, I would not have the wellrounded experience that I have today. Being engaged in campus life has taught me to prioritize, to be intentional about meeting new friends and becoming a well-rounded person—it's helped me make such fond memories, and I have grown spiritually like I could have never imagined.” Due to restrictions and safety precautions regarding the health crisis, the University pioneered new ways to carry on the time-honored tradition which started in the 1956-57

school year at East Texas Baptist College. Each contestant went through a virtual interview and question-andanswer process, along with an online vote by the campus community. “Despite the challenging circumstances, we wanted to maintain as many aspects of this important and longstanding tradition as possible,” ETBU Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Dean of Students Blair Prevost said. “Thanks to the adaptability of our contestants and judges, we were able to conduct the interview as well as question and answer portions of the selection process by virtual conference. We have been conducting the student, faculty, and staff voting online for many years, so that part of the selection process was unchanged.” The evening wear and talent portions of the pageant were removed this year, as was the traditional reception that unites all former Miss ETBU winners with the current year’s contestants. Miss ETBU 2019 Ronni Ward shared words of encouragement for Harmening, who did not have the customary pageant experience due to the circumstances. “Serving as Miss ETBU 2019 was the absolute time of my life. From serving in the community of Marshall to traveling the world to Tokyo, Japan, and working in the mission field, I have seen God move in so many ways,” Ward said. “To Miss ETBU 2020, you are taking on this role in a time where everything seems so uncertain, but please remember that we serve a God that has already written this chapter that we are living out. Hold your head high and know that this title is going to bring you opportunities that you never imagined and memories that will last a lifetime. ETBU is a place we call home, and now you represent us all. Wear your crown proudly.” As Miss ETBU 2020, Harmening receives a generous leadership scholarship as well as the opportunity to represent the University as an ETBU ambassador throughout the community and region. “I'm most looking forward to the new relationships that are waiting to be formed,” Harmening concluded. “I am thrilled to stand alongside Dr. Blackburn and the faculty and staff to show people that our University is different because of the love of Christ. I believe that there will be many experiences I'm not expecting that will help me grow as a person and young adult, and I choose to embrace the future. This school year is going to be phenomenal, and I am anticipating the good works of God!”


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JOURNEY Lane Craig ('19), Homecoming King 2019 and Wendy Torres ('20) Craig, SGA President 2019-2020, culminated the joy of their journey on the Hill with marital bliss. While a change of plans isn't always ideal, special memories were made for Lane and Wendy, who wed on Saturday, May 9, 2020 at the home of ETBU Provost Dr. Thomas Sanders. The two ETBU alumni exchanged vows on what would have been ETBU's Spring 2020 Commencement day, modifying their wedding celebration to safely accommodate close friends and family despite increasing health concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

There will never be enough thank yous for Dr. Thomas Sanders and Mrs. Treva! They made our dream wedding possible! Dr. Sanders has meant so much to Lane and I over the years, and it made it even more special that he was able to officiate our wedding at his house. Thank you Dr. Sanders for every word of wisdom, piece of advice, every true joke, and for being the best professor, officiant, and, now, friend. We love you so much! 34


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COMMON MISSION ETBU partners with Grace Community School to offer dual enrollment courses to high school students

East Texas Baptist University and Grace Community School (GCS) in Tyler, Texas teamed up to create new educational opportunities for students attending Grace High School. Grace Community School's mission is to assist Christian families in educating, equipping, and encouraging their children to influence the world for Christ. High school juniors and seniors at GCS are taking college-level courses through East Texas Baptist, giving students the advantage of completing dual credit course work toward both a high school diploma and a college degree at the same time. ETBU is providing 27 hours of undergraduate general education courses to eligible and qualified "collegeready" juniors and seniors at a discounted tuition rate. Grace Community School is providing the technology necessary to support these dual credit courses, as well as the textbooks needed to complete the curriculum, making this offering an affordable way for high school upperclassmen to get ahead through a Christ-centered dual credit program.


In the same way that the pillars provide strength and stability to the various buildings on campus, such as Marshall Hall, Craig Hall, H.D. Bruce Hall, Feagin Hall, Centennial Hall, Murphy Science, Jarrett Library, and the Bennett Student Commons, members of the Pillars of ETBU bolster and fortify the Christ-centered mission and on-going work of the University through monthly giving.

As a Pillar, you will: Sustain and advance the Christ-centered mission of East Texas Baptist University Make a significant impact through contributions incrementally and conveniently over time ​ upport your philanthropic goals with a schedule S that fits your lifestyle Pay forward to future generations of Tigers by investing monthly with your alma mater

Learn more at www.ETBU.edu/PillarsofETBU

903.923.2071 | advancement@ETBU.edu Hilltop Summer 2020 35 Office of Advancement | One Tiger Drive Marshall, Texas 75670



Emily Hicks (’20) receives the ETBU Senior Girl Call-Out 2020 Emily Hicks of Marshall was recognized during East Texas Baptist University’s 73rd annual Senior Girl CallOut, ETBU’s longest standing tradition. Selected by a faculty and staff vote, the outstanding female senior student “called out” each year is distinguished for her exemplary Christian character, social consciousness, personal poise, academic achievement, and spiritual vision. Hicks, a Child Development major, who graduated in Spring 2020, exemplifies what it means to be fully immersed in student life at East Texas Baptist University. During her time on campus, she served as a Resident Assistant, BSM Ignite Worship Leader, as well as a member of Lampsato Singers, Concert Choir, Chapel Worship Team. Emily was an ETBU Rec Team ministry leader for two summers. Her dedication to excellence can be seen inside the classroom as well, as Emily was named to the President’s List every semester throughout her four years at ETBU. “ETBU has played such a huge role in my life,” Hicks said. “Many of my family members have attended this amazing University, and it has been a dream of mine to continue that family legacy. As soon as I started my journey as a college student, I could not believe the many opportunities being offered to me to serve Christ, my church, and my community. These opportunities have helped me become who I am today, strengthened my relationship with the Lord, allowed me to serve others, and to give back to the amazing community that I love.” Hicks is also actively involved at Immanuel Baptist Church in Marshall where she is a member of the youth worship team, serves as an office assistant, and has previously led a small group for 6th grade girls. “I am so grateful to God, my encouraging and loving family, Dr. Blackburn, East Texas Baptist University, faculty and staff, my friends and classmates, my home church of Immanuel Baptist Church, and the rest of the Tiger community for motivating me, challenging me, and supporting me in such a way to help me become the light that God has called me to be,” Hicks said. While the ceremony looked a bit different this year,



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21 young women chose to participate in the time-honored event. Traditionally during the ceremony, each senior girl chooses a “little sister”, and passes onto her the symbols of the ideals and traditions of the University – the grace of the myrtle, the strength of the oak, and the ever verdant life of the pine. Initiated in 1947 by ETBC Dean of Women Sallie Duncan, the ceremony honors all participating seniors for their achievements at ETBU. “Senior Girl Call-Out is one of my favorite events at ETBU, and it is a privilege to honor these young ladies,” Vice President for Student Affairs Heather Hadlock commented. “Despite the changes this semester brought, the University was compelled to continue providing opportunities for the ETBU Family to stay connected, and we knew we needed to honor the legacy of Senior Girl Call-Out by finding a way to host the ceremony.” Although the ceremony itself may have been presented differently this year, the sentiment remains the same as the University community honors the long-standing tradition of recognizing senior girls for their Christian character and academic achievements. “While I wish we could have come together on our campus for the traditional ceremony, I am grateful for the technology that allowed us to honor these senior girls in a virtual format,” Dr. Hadlock added. “Senior Girl Call-Out is an opportunity to honor the legacy of generations of women, who have gone beyond ETBU to serve in God’s Kingdom. We want to extend a special congratulations to our 2020 recipient, Emily Hicks, for serving as such a wonderful example of Christian character.”

ETBU has played such a huge role in my life. Many of my family members have attended this amazing University, and it has been a dream of mine to continue that family legacy. EMILY HICKS ('20) ETBU 2020 SENIOR GIRL CALL-OUT Hilltop

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ETBU celebrates Spring 2020 Class at “in-person” and “virtual” commencement


s the ETBU senior class of 2020 left campus in March to enjoy their last Spring Break before graduation, little did they know there would be no more Tiger Baseball games at Woods Baseball Field, late night study sessions at Jarrett Library, student recitals in the Jenna Guest Music Building, nor opportunities to share a Chick-Fil-A meal or a cup of Starbucks coffee with friends in the Ornelas Student Center. As the senior class of 2020 excitedly left ETBU for a much awaited break from school, they never could have predicted that it would be months before they were able to return to their "Home on the Hill." Since the coronavirus began making its early appearance around East Texas in mid-March, ETBU Provost Dr. Thomas Sanders eased students’ concerns by pledging to all members of the ETBU Graduating Class of Spring 2020 that the University was committed to hosting a Commencement ceremony to allow for graduates to receive the proper celebration that they each worked so hard to achieve.



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East Texas Baptist University held two Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 13. Dr. Blackburn presided over the socially-distanced ceremonies as 173 students received undergraduate degrees and 20 earned graduate degrees, for a total of 193 graduates. Students were allowed to choose their participation style either “in-person” or “virtual” at the celebratory worship services. Provost Sanders, along with the University Deans, donned their academic regalia in honor of the graduates and their achievements. “Commencement is a special time in the life of a University,” Dr. Sanders said. “It is a time for celebration for both the University and the families to join together with pride in celebration of the accomplishments of these students. Each student’s hard work, under the guidance and support of faculty members, staff, family members, and friends has resulted in the accomplishments we recognize today.”

Graduates, the degree you’re receiving, regardless of your major, has been structured around you as a person. This degree that you worked hard to earn and this whole experience was designed to help you answer those fundamental questions of life that point us to the Lord Jesus. BRYAN HUGHES TEXAS STATE SENATOR TEXAS DISTRICT 1

WATCH ONLINE ETBUvideos www.ETBU.edu/commencement Hilltop

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Hanna Perry Receives




Hanna Perry graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Biology

The Honorable Bryan Hughes, who currently serves as Texas State Senator representing East Texas' District 1, gave the charge to the Spring 2020 graduates during both ceremonies. “Graduates, the degree you’re receiving, regardless of your major, has been structured around you as a person,” Senator Hughes said. “Normally at graduations, all of the graduates are sitting together, while their families and friends are spread out throughout the room. This year, it’s unique to have graduates sitting with their families, their friends, with the ones who supported them, prayed for them, who sacrificed for them to get here. This has been structured around you. This degree that you worked hard to earn and this whole experience was designed to help you answer those fundamental questions of life that point us to the Lord Jesus.” Senator Hughes is known for defending the American Dream, and challenged the audience to seek out equality and justice. During the Senator's address, he inspired graduates to dream big as they go forth to serve in their respective vocations and point people to Christ. “East Texas Baptist University was incredibly grateful to welcome graduates and their families back to the Hill for this day of celebration as we worshipped the Lord and recognized their successes and accomplishments,” Dr. Blackburn said. “Regardless of what happened the last semester of their final year at ETBU, God has a plan and purpose for their life as graduates." Each semester, ETBU President Blackburn presents an award to a graduate who represents a Christian leader, scholar, and servant within the campus and local community. Hanna Perry, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Biology, received the President’s Award among the Spring 2020 graduating class. On campus, Perry served as a writing tutor for the English Department and worked as a molecular biology lab/field researcher for the Biology Department. She was an active member of the Pom Team, Debate Team, Centennial mentor, TEAM Tiger mentor,

Tiger Camp leader, President of Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, and President of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. Off campus, Perry was actively engaged at Immanuel Baptist Church, where she served as a Pre-K volunteer, a member of an IBC covenant group, and a member of the college leadership team. Additionally, she volunteered at Sam Houston Elementary School as well as Dayspring Therapeutic Equine Center. Perry will soon begin at Baylor University School of Law, where she received a fulltuition scholarship for her studies. “Hanna is a faithful prayer warrior,” Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Scott Morris said. “It is evident to everyone she meets that the Holy Spirit is active in her life. Her spiritual maturity both encourages and challenges me as I serve as a ministry leader in her life. I am certain that her Christian walk is not limited to this collegiate experience, as she is demonstrating incredible spiritual maturity in that she is prayerfully considering ways to fulfill the Great Commission in her future endeavors, be it at law school or beyond.” During the ceremony, Dr. Warren Johnson, Professor of Christian Ministry since 2005, was recognized with the 2020 Professor with Distinction for his excellence in service, scholarship, teaching, and integration of faith and learning. Dr. Johnson teaches courses in New Testament studies and in Koine (New Testament) Greek. He is known by faculty for setting an example of a Christian scholar, for his care of his students, and for his engagement in his students’ extracurricular involvement outside of the classroom. A student, who nominated Dr. Johnson, said “I have had Dr. Johnson for at least one class every semester I have been at ETBU, and that has been on purpose. His classes have consistently been nourishing to the mind and the soul. His teaching style makes the information accessible, yet he maintains an academic rigor that is admirable. Lastly, he has consistently integrated his own faith into his curriculum, and has provided opportunities for students to engage in the material spiritually.”


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Spring 2020 Commencement was originally scheduled for early May, but after adjustments in the wake of the coronavirus, the University remained committed to celebrating the 2020 graduating class of ETBU by rescheduling the event for a later date under national and state health and safety guidelines. Graduates were able to dress in their cap and gown, and crossed the stage with pomp and circumstance to celebrate this remarkable milestone achievement. “America is groaning for an awakening, revival, healing, and restoration in the wake of George Floyd's death," Dr. Blackburn shared. "It is only through Christ’s love and through the Gospel that this can be possible. Our University reflects Christ’s calling for us to be a light on the Hill, a city on the Hill which cannot be hidden. I pray that each of us will have the character, the courage, and the compassion to shine Jesus’ light and love so that America’s people can live in peace and unity.”



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professor DR. WARREN Beloved receives Spring 2020


Professor with Distinction Award

Dr. Warren Johnson serves as a Professor of Religion in the ETBU School of Christian Studies, having joined the ETBU faculty in 2005. Dr. Johnson completed his graduate studies, Master of Divinity in 1994 and Ph.D. in 1998 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. ETBU Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Kristi Burns said, "Dr. Warren Johnson is an outstanding faculty member who displays his love of teaching, as well as his love for Jesus to everyone that he meets. He leaves you feeling renewed and refreshed just by having a casual conversation with him. His dedication to the University mission and his students is seen through his University committee work, mission and study abroad work, and his leadership. He uses his testimony to speak the power of Christ in healing and purpose. Dr. Johnson is truly a professor with distinction."


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Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and







Hebrews 13:8 Hilltop

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Providing increased opportunity in light of COVID-19 through TJC Partnership, new graduate programs, and ETBU-Tyler As recent graduates navigate the uncharted waters of job searching in the midst of a global pandemic and widespread economic turmoil, the University strategized ways to assist recent graduates who may have trouble finding employment post-graduation. In an effort to help these recent Tiger alumni and others looking to expand their career opportunities during this time, the University is expanding its graduate programs and offered at the reduced rate for individuals interested in a variety of fields. Students who choose to pursue postbaccalaureate professional degrees at ETBU can choose from one of these available Master's Degree programs:

Master of Arts in Theological Studies* Master of Arts in Christian Ministry* Integrated Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (new for Fall 2020) Integrated Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and Master of Business Administration* Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master of Arts in Strategic Communication (new for Fall 2020) Master of Education* Master of Education in College and University Leadership* Master of Science in Kinesiology Master of Business Administration*

*Denotes Master’s degree available completely online Additionally, ETBU recently strengthened its unique public/private partnership with Tyler Junior College by offering a specialized Master of Education program to TJC faculty and staff, as well as high school teachers who wish to teach dual credit/dual-enrollment courses. The 30-hour graduate degree, offered online through ETBU, will give those enrolled a new venue for career advancement with increased opportunities for teaching at the collegiate level. The program also benefits those individuals who have a master’s degree, yet need the 18-hour graduate discipline courses for qualification to teach college courses.



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“As a graduate from Tyler Junior College, I am honored to work with TJC President Dr. Juan E. Mejia in creating a collaborative academic partnership for the benefit of the East Texas region,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “I am confident that offering ETBU’s Master of Education program to TJC faculty and staff will aid us in developing servant-hearted educational leaders and scholars and will equip qualified higher education professionals to reach their full teaching potential.” East Texas Baptist’s partnership with TJC dates back to 2017 when the two institutions entered an articulation agreement, providing more accessible and more affordable pathways for TJC students to pursue a quality, Christ-centered education through ETBU. This new component of the two schools’ ongoing collaboration

targets those seeking to further their professionallevel education and training. The 18-month graduate education program offers discipline specific content in English, History, Mathematics, or Communication for obtaining post-secondary teaching credentials in these high-demand areas of study. This unique private-public partnership is catered to professionals who desire to receive qualification and preparation to teach at Tyler Junior College and other East Texas regional community colleges. Additionally, the ability for more educators to attain their master’s degree or 18-hour graduate discipline specific qualification will help address the 60 X 30 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s primary goal of having at least 60 percent of Texans between the ages of 25-34 with a post-secondary credential by 2030.


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“TJC’s strategic plan includes a strong focus on innovation through authentic partnerships, and we value the partnership with ETBU,” TJC President Dr. Mejia shared. “Dr. Blackburn and his Cabinet have continued to work closely with the leadership team from TJC, and all have embraced the direction from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to encourage public and private partnerships. We are honored to partner with ETBU as we share a significant number of stakeholders who are friends to both of our institutions and very proeducation, and we have the opportunity to establish the state model of a partnership that leads the way for Texas.” While the University makes strides to meet needs in higher education for recent graduates and throughout the East Texas region, it is also seeking to help meet the growing need for mental health care in Tyler and Smith County by opening a community mental health clinic that will also offer the University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, located at 1301 S. Broadway in Tyler at the former American Cancer Society building. The Community Counseling Center will open later this fall, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling classes will be offered at the new ETBU-Tyler location beginning in January 2021. “In light of the expanding mental health needs with the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation, ETBU is honored and humbled to extend opportunities that serve the Tyler and Smith County communities through both counseling and graduate education,” Dr. Blackburn said. “The ETMC Foundation’s generosity towards this program at ETBU-Tyler is vital, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their support and partnership.” The ETMC Foundation is a private foundation created by the sale of the East Texas Medical Regional Health care system to Ardent Health Services in 2018. “The East Texas Medical Center Foundation is pleased to assist ETBU in their goal of increasing available counseling services to the East Texas area,” Executive Director of the ETMC Foundation Dawn Franks said. “This program comes at a critical time for many individuals seeking mental health services and helps to fulfill our mission to improve the health and quality of lives in the surrounding East Texas communities.” The RW Fair Foundation of Tyler has also blessed the University with a $25,000 contribution toward the center. The University’s two-pronged approach enables ETBU to address current needs for mental health care while providing for the growing demand in East Texas for additional qualified and trained Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) in the mental health field. Designed with flexibility and working professionals in mind, the graduate program features evening and online courses. All clinical hours required by the program can be completed through the onsite clinic. The program,



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designed with academic rigor and holistic attention to the intellectual, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical development of the person, produces graduates who are educated, equipped, and empowered to provide professional counseling services in a variety of settings. These skilled mental health care professionals are trained to comprehensively understand counseling practice management and emerging counseling treatment and methodology trends. “According to the data provided by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, Smith County has a shortage of Licensed Professional Counselors compared to other counties in Texas with similar populations,” ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. “To address the present need for mental health services in Smith County, ETBU’s Community Counseling Center will provide no-cost counseling services to members of the community through local referral partners with counselors or graduate counselors-in-training.” Through expanding graduate program choices, offering the Master of Education program to those interested in higher education through partnering with Tyler Junior College and integrating ETBU’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program in Smith County at ETBU-Tyler, East Texas Baptist is advancing pivotal leadership to provide quality Christian higher education throughout the East Texas region. As the University strives to relieve some of the burdens brought on by COVID-19, we remain vigilant in our calling to serve the needs of our students, prospective students, graduates, and the surrounding communities.


ETBU selected for a $1.5 million challenge grant from Mabee Foundation

As East Texas Baptist University seeks to expand academic capabilities, enhance program offerings, and further spread the Gospel across East Texas and throughout the world, the J.E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation selected ETBU for a challenge grant in the amount of $1,500,000 towards the construction of the Great Commission Center (GCC), the future home for ETBU’s Fred Hale School of Business. In order to receive the challenge grant funds from the Mabee Foundation, the University will need to raise a total of $3,000,000 for the project by July 2021. “We rejoice in the provision of God’s grace and gifting, and we give thanks to the Lord for the great things He has done for our University,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “God has laid a vision on our hearts to transform more ETBU students and graduates into devoted Christian servant leaders and outstanding ethical business leaders. I am excited to witness how the Great Commission Center will provide a place for our faculty and staff to teach and equip ETBU business students with the tools to live out the Great Commission in their future vocations.” 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 Southern United States. ETBC Alumnus, Dr. Jim Teague (’68) gave the initial lead gift to set this vision in action. Dr. Teague was the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humanities for his service to God and humanity at ETBU’s Spring 2018 Commencement ceremony. “We are thrilled to receive the $1,500,000 challenge grant from the J.E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation to support the $7,500,000 Great Commission Center Building Campaign," ETBU Vice President for Advancement Scott Bryant said. “The Mabee Foundation leaders are thrilled with the project and impressed that we already raised $3,000,000 for the campaign. The Mabee Foundation challenge grant gives us 12 months to raise an additional $3,000,000. If we raise the additional $3,000,000, then the Mabee Foundation will grant us $1,500,000 to complete the project. I am asking for ETBU alumni and donors to prayerfully consider partnering with us on this important project.

Together, we can make a great impact as we provide a new facility that prepares students to be Christian servant leaders." Called the Great Commission Center, the building will be the physical manifestation of ETBU’s core mission of developing Christian servant leaders. The facility will house the University’s Great Commission Center—an institution-wide program initiative which connects students, faculty, and staff with our local communities in East Texas, cities across the United States, and cultures across the globe in fulfillment of the Great Commission call in Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20). “The Great Commission Center at ETBU will be a brick and mortar representation of our understanding of the depth and breadth of the Great Commission: to make disciples,” Director of Global Education and the Great Commission Center Lisa Seeley said. “The ministry there will reach into the world for Christ through those ETBU teaches and influences. To be able to focus our work on instilling these teachings, literally making disciples on our campus and in our community is a life changing ministry.” The 23,500 square foot facility will be a modern 21st-century learning center with historic architectural and educational identity, the building will advance the Hale Business School’s awareness, relevance, and reputation as a leading Christ-centered business school for undergraduate and graduate studies. “The marriage of the Business School with the Great Commission Center is not just a convenient way to house two departments,” Dr. Seeley added. “It is a recognition of the call of every Christian to make disciples as they go into the world with their God given vocation, whether that be as an executive, entrepreneur, financial planner, teacher, nurse, physical therapist, coach, or minister.” Since its formation in 1948, the Mabee Foundation has made grants totaling over $1.2 billion for nonprofit, 501©(3) organizations in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas.


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A VISION BROUGHT TO FRUITION Walls of Chapel on the Hill covered with Scriptures and prayers



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ast Texas Baptist University’s Chapel on the Hill and Kenny Ponder Park are set to be completed for the Fall 2020 semester. The project broke ground in August of 2019 after an initial gift from the Ponder family of Marshall. The chapel and adjacent park will now serve as a dedicated house of worship to focus on the power of prayer, the sanctity of biblical marriage, and the celebration of loved ones. Prior to completion, the unfinished walls of East Texas Baptist University’s new Chapel on the Hill were covered in heartfelt blessings of scripture and prayers from ETBU faculty, staff, and community members. “Thanks to God’s provision through the benevolence of the Ponder family and many generous donors, our excitement continues to grow for the day when people will gather in this sacred space,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “We have reflected on the moments of joy, sorrow, celebration, and reunion that will happen within the walls of the Chapel on the Hill and throughout Kenny Ponder Park. Our written and spoken Scriptures and prayers will herald and honor what God will do through this house of worship, and prayer, and fellowship. God's word and the prayers of his people insulate the walls of this symbol for Christ-centered education and the Lord’s providence on ETBU’s campus.” Founders of Master WoodCraft Cabinetry and devoted members of First United Methodist Church of Marshall, Gene and Patsy Ponder, along with their children and grandchildren, initially donated funds to create a park area with gardens, a walking path, an arbor, and benches. Expanding on the original idea, the Ponder family later contributed additional funds to construct the Chapel on the Hill. The park is named in the memory of Kenneth Eugene Ponder, son of Gene and Patsy, who passed away in 2017. “As Kenny’s mother, it means a lot to me that so many people are remembering him,” Mrs. Ponder said during the Scripture and prayer blessing. “Everything is beyond my expectations. This place is just beautiful, it’s exactly what we envisioned and more.” Every aspect of the Chapel on the Hill and Kenny Ponder Park were designed with intentionality. Overlooking the gardens, pathways, and pond of Kenny Ponder Park, the Chapel will provide a sense of peace and serenity for faculty, staff, students, and alumni on any occasion. "This will be a place that will celebrate life,” Dean of Spiritual Life Scott Stevens said. “For some it will be a life well-lived, and for some it will be a new life together. We are providing a space here on campus because of generous donors where we can celebrate that and honor the Lord with it. It's about the opportunity we have to participate in the really important moments in people's lives, and there's been a space created here to do that." The Chapel on the Hill will forever stand as a reflection of the Christian foundation of East Texas Baptist University as countless supporters, students, alumni, faculty, and staff


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along with their families gather under the steeple for years to come. “Psalm 119:11 says, ‘I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.’ Each one of us has the opportunity and responsibility to tuck God’s truths away in our hearts and minds each day so that our thoughts, words, and actions might be pleasing to Him,” Intercessory Prayer Ministry Coordinator Cari Johnson said. “I was encouraged to see our campus community extend this symbolism by ‘hiding God’s Word’ within the newly constructed walls of the Chapel on the Hill. As I scratched my Sharpie against the rough wooden two-by-six boards, letter by letter, I claimed God’s promises, and thanked Him for being so faithful and true. There is nothing magical about scripted beams behind finished sheetrock. However, there are miracles to discover when you intentionally bathe a project in prayers of surrender to the glory of God.”

There is nothing magical about scripted beams behind finished sheetrock. However, there are miracles to discover when you intentionally bathe a project in prayers of surrender to the glory of God. CARI JOHNSON ('93) INTERCESSORY PRAYER MINISTRY COORDINATOR 52


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ast Texas Baptist University hosted a series of events for Spiritual Renewal Week February 17 through February 19. Themed “Choose Hope”, the week consisted of chapel services, Night of Worship, Concert of Prayer, and Student-led Worship. “When we landed on the theme of “Choose Hope” for Spiritual Renewal Week 2020 we were thinking about students who have run out of hope based on their life circumstances,” ETBU Dean of Spiritual Life Scott Stevens shared. “Little did we know what was awaiting us in March with the advent of the coronavirus. I am so thankful that just before the pandemic hit, our students were reminded that our only hope is found in Jesus and that we can choose Him as our Lord and Savior. He is the Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, and Light in the Darkness." Todd Kaunitz, Lead Pastor for one of East Texas’ fastest growing churches, New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview, kicked off the event at a chapel service, and followed up with another message during a special service later that evening. Kaunitz’ sessions emphasized community-focused thinking rather than individualistic thinking. He emphasized how God’s plans do not center around an individual but around the Christian community as a whole. “The covenant community of faith says there are plans that God has for us, there is a purpose that God has for our lives. We have to see our lives, not in the individual purposes that we have, but rather as the greater community that



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we're part of,” Kaunitz shared. “We’re a part of the covenant community of God. We have plans for our life that we want to accomplish and we ask God to kiss it and bless it and make it happen. We fail to realize that we have to see our life not through the individual plans that we have, but rather through the overall community that we are part of and the overall mission God has for our lives.” Rage Ministries leader Ryan Fontenot also served as a guest speaker during Spiritual Renewal Week. He is the Founder and Lead Communicator for R.A.G.E. Ministries. R.A.G.E. (Reaching A Generation Endangered) exists to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and to prepare the next generation to do the same.

The Concert of Prayer on Tuesday night featured performances by Alive By Sunrise with singer and frontman Cameron Theodos. “Spiritual Renewal Week encourages me to have a mindset of the Spirit, like Romans 8:5 says,” ETBU Worship Coordinator Shelby Nallin commented. “It reminds me that the Lord brought me to ETBU according to His purpose and His good plan, not my own. Spiritual Renewal Week benefits the student body because we are given designated, uninterrupted opportunities to pray over the campus, to intercede for all who step foot on this campus, and to ask the Lord to help us die to ourselves and take on the likeness of Christ. Every year it is something that I will ever be so grateful for, including the staff efforts to make it happen because they love us.”


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With the shortened COVID-19 season, ETBU Baseball completed only 17 games. One of their victories came over 2019 American Southwest Conference champion Concordia University, 1-0. Blake Corbin earned the victory as he struck out a career-high 13 batters and allowed only three hits. Ford Spigener had the lone run in the game with a home run to left field. Corbin went on to win the American Southwest Conference Pitcher of the Week award for his performance against Concordia. Academically, ETBU placed 22 players on the ASC All-Academic team, which led the Conference.


Earning the #1 spot in the nation just before COVID-19 struck, the Tiger Women's Softball Team finished their season at 15-0. ETBU won six American Southwest Conference games and also went undefeated in the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Arizona. Overall, the Tiger Women were 7-0 against the top teams in the nation. During this time, ETBU produced six ASC Player of the Week awards in Beatriz Lara (three times), Preslye Cox, Corley Carpenter, and Daniella Solis. Solis was also the NFCA National Hitter of the Week after the series against Howard Payne University, where she batted .600 and tied a conference record, hitting three home runs in one game. Lara was voted to the CoSIDA Academic AllDistrict team with 11 student-athletes making the ASC All-Academic team.

MEN'S BASKETBALL ETBU Men’s Basketball finished the 2019-2020 season with a 21-7 record and played for the American Southwest Conference Tournament championship for the second time in three seasons. After starting the season 1-1 in Memphis, Tennessee, the Tigers won 14 of their next 15 games moving to 15-2. This included seven wins against non-conference teams and an 83-74 home win against the University of Texas-Dallas, while stealing two close road games against Louisiana College (84-81) and Belhaven University (83-81). Six players earned ASC honors as Robby Dooley was named All-ASC East First Team and Christopher Haynes was named to the All-ASC East Second Team. Landin Brown, Jordan Gray, and Nathan Fontenot were named All-ASC East Honorable Mention, while Jayden Williams was on the ASC All-Freshman team. Eight Tiger players were named to the ASC All-Academic team, which led the ASC. After the season, Brandon Curran stepped down as head coach to enter full-time ministry and Bossier Parish Community College Head Coach Chris Lovell was hired to take over the team after a successful three years at the junior college level.



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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL The ETBU Women’s Basketball program earned their third straight 20-win season finishing 20-7 and reaching the American Southwest Conference Tournament semi-final round. The Lady Tigers put together a 10-game winning streak in the month of January, including a 58-54 victory over #25 ranked University of Texas Dallas. Six players earned All-ASC awards led by Kim Childress and Kendrick Clark, who were both named All-ASC East Division First Team. Amanda Wilson (ASC East Second), Taylor Singleton (ASC East Second), Mallory Stephens (ASC East Honorable Mention), and Mollie Daniel (ASC All-Freshman Team) rounded out ETBU’s Conference award recipients. Ten student-athletes made the ASC All-Academic team which was second most in the ASC.


After a promising start to their season in the fall, the ETBU Men’s Golf team would only have one tournament during the Spring 2020 semester. Tigers finished in fourth place at the Pinecrest Intercollegiate hosted by LeTourneau University. Providing two teams for the tournament, ETBU’s first team finished in fourth place with 918 (312-208-298) strokes over three days, while the second ETBU team took seventh with 952 strokes (326-315-311). Hank Crain would lead ETBU with a 226 (76-7971) tying for 11th place and Riley Griffin led the second team and finished in 13th with a 227. ETBU Golf led the ASC with six student-athletes on the ASC All-Academic team.


The ETBU Women’s Golf program made history as they won their first program tournament in their second year. At the Pinecrest Intercollegiate, hosted by LeTourneau University, the Lady Tigers combined for a first place total of 654 (328-326) and were 99 strokes better than second place LETU. ETBU would have the top four finishers in medalist Makenzie Pinkston with 162 strokes (81-81) while Emily Watson (86-77=163) and Elizabeth Hardy (80-83=163) would tie for second. Cali Brockway came in fourth place with a 166 (81-85). The following week, ETBU traveled to Kerrville where they competed in the Schreiner Spring Shootout where they finished in fourth place out of 10 teams with a 681 (346335). Emily Watson tied for second, shooting a 159 (80-79). Pinkston was named the ASC Golfer of the Week for her play at the Pinecrest Intercollegiate. The ETBU Women also had four student-athletes named ASC All-Academic.


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ETBU Softball finishes 2020 season ranked # 1 in the nation


he East Texas Baptist University Softball Team finished the shortened Spring 2020 season as the number one team in NCAA Division III in a vote by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. It is the first time that ETBU Softball has finished as the top nationally ranked team since 2010 when they won the University national championship title. ETBU finished with 200 points, claiming the top spot by eight points over Texas Lutheran University. Tiger Softball finished the season at 15-0. In 2019, ETBU went 20-0 to start the season. Winning six ASC games sweeping Howard Payne University (12-0, 15-5, 1-0) and Sul Ross State University (6-0, 8-0, 7-4) in 2020, ETBU was also the only undefeated team in the conference. “We are obviously extremely sad that this special season has come to such an abrupt end,” Tigers head coach Janae Shirley said. “This was a special group and we were really looking forward to seeing the great things they were going to accomplish. However, God had a different plan and we know that His light will shine through this situation. This team is filled with not only amazing players but amazing people. The growth and leadership that our staff saw from them over these past few months has been amazing.” ETBU started the year with a five-inning win over Centenary College. Against teams outside the ASC and Texas, ETBU went 7-0 with wins over Pacific University, 9-8, in nine innings, and then went 5-0 in Arizona. At the NFCA Leadoff Classic ETBU had wins over No. 13 DePauw University (6-1), No. 20 St. John Fisher College (1-0), No. 25 Emory University (8-5), and Piedmont College (8-5). ETBU then defeated Baldwin Wallace (7-1) in their last game of the year after the Classic. Six of ETBU’s wins were by shutouts while two wins came on walk-off hits. One win came against Pacific where ETBU overcame a 6-2 deficit for a 9-8 victory. India Holland



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tied the game in the seventh inning with a base hit. Then, in the ninth inning, ETBU scored three runs including a walk-off single by Mariah Delgado for the win. Some of the thrilling moments from the season included a week where Daniella Solis batted .600 (six-for-10) with seven RBI, two doubles, and three homers against Howard Payne University. In game two of that series, Solis tied the ASC record with three home runs in the game joining six other players on the list. This performance would garner Solis both the ASC and NFCA National Hitter of the Week award. The NFCA Leadoff Classic was another memorable performance as Corley Carpenter batted .500 with six hits, four RBI, a double, and a home run. Against Saint John Fisher College, Carpenter picked up a season high three hits, including a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning. Carpenter got two more hits against Emory University and achieved her first career solo home run in the seventh inning against PC. She was also the recipient of the ASC East Division Hitter of the Week honors. Three other Tigers earned ASC weekly awards. Beatriz Lara finished with three Pitcher of the Week awards (2/11/20, 2/25/20, 3/16/20). Preslye Cox earned her first career Pitcher of the Week award (3/2/20) after getting two wins pitching 11.0 innings and posting a 0.64 ERA with seven strikeouts. Kaitlin Hunter would be ETBU’s first Hitter of the Week recipient for the season (2/11/20) going three-for-three with two RBI. This season would see Solis lead ETBU’s offense with 23 hits, eight doubles, 20 RBI, and six home runs. ETBU would be led in the circle by Lara, who finished with nine wins, including a 1.89 ERA and 66 strikeouts. Cox would grab five wins and post a 1.75 ERA and 26 strikeouts. Spring 2020 marked Tiger Softball's first ever undefeated season, while shortened due to COVID-19, ETBU claimed the top national ranking for NCAA Division III.


Texas country music artist and ETBU Alumnus Curtis Grimes (’19) films music video at Taylor Softball Field

Scan the QR Code to watch the music video! Hilltop

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The ETBU Men’s Tennis team won three matches in Spring 2020 before their season ended. They recorded a close victory, 5-4, over McMurry University and produced 9-0 wins over Texas Lutheran and Howard Payne University. Andrew Deutsch and Dalton Barron also received ASC East Player of the Week honors. Five Tiger players were also named to the ASC All-Academic team.


The ETBU Women’s Tennis team finished 5-3 on the shortened season, which started with a 7-2 win over the University of St. Thomas (TX). They won four of their next five matches against Texas Lutheran (7-2), University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (8-1), Howard Payne University (8-1), and Schreiner University (5-4). Three players earned ASC East Player of the Week awards. Elisa Kendall won twice, while freshman Kelsey Roberts and Kylee Mixon received their first weekly awards in college. Kendall was ETBU’s recipient of the ASC Medal of Honor award and was voted by her ASC peers as the Women’s Tennis Distinguished Scholar-Athlete award winner. The ITA also voted her the NCAA Division III West Region ‘Most Improved Senior.’ Three Lady Tiger student-athletes were named to the ASC AllAcademic team.


Tiger Men’s Track and Field competed in just two meets, but still made program history. They won the program’s first meet at the Graham Knowles Invitational on February 28. They took the team championship with 144 points behind four first place finishes in Mack Broussard (3,000 meters), Jalen Blanton (high jump) and Kenneth Cavit (shot put, discus). ETBU’s second event of the season occurred at the Mississippi College Invitational. The highlight was a firstplace finish by the 4x100 meter relay team of Reed McDonald, Shayne Porche, TraMikal Davis, and Detaveon Lewis in 42.20 seconds. Broussard took third in the 5,000 meter run, while Ivan Lockhart and Kenneth Cavit had top five finishes in the high jump and shot put respectively. Six ETBU Tiger student-athletes were on the ASC All-Academic team, which was second in the ASC.

WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD Competing in just two meets, the ETBU Women’s Track and Field Team made large strides for their program. They finished sixth in their opening meet at LeTourneau University, where Gracie Almond finished first in the high jump. Other top finishes included Hope Shipp placing second in the javelin, Tia Steen-Baker finishing fourth in the 100-meter dash, and Randa Slone finishing fourth in the 200-meter dash. At the Mississippi College Invitational, Grace Stephens recorded a time of 16.5 seconds in the 100 meter hurdles for fifth place. She then placed third in the 400 meter hurdles at 1:06.70, which earned her the ASC Track Athlete of the Week honor. With that time, Stephens was ranked fourth nationally in NCAA Division III. Hope Shipp and Kylie Embry each placed in the top five in the javelin, with second and fifth place finishes. Five ETBU student-athletes earned ASC All-Academic team honors, which was second in the ASC.



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The Tiger Hockey team made history this year as they won the TCHC North Division regular season championship with sweeps over both the University of North Texas and the University of Texas El-Paso. They were the top seed in the TCHC post season and were selected for the first time to play in the ACHA Division II West Regional Tournament, finishing the season with a 24-5-1 record. At the ACHA Regional Tournament in Boise, Idaho, ETBU opened up with a 5-4 overtime win against California State UniversityNorthridge before falling, 6-1, to Metropolitan State University-Denver. Several Tiger players earned honors for the season. In the TCHC, Skyler Spiller, Riley Knott, and Tyler Fitzgerald were all First Team selections, while Ryan Gruszka and Davis VanGemerden received Second Team honors. Head coach Alain Savage was named the 2020 TCHC Coach of the Year. Knott and VanGemerden were named to the ACHA National All-Academic Team, while Knott was also honored on the ACHA All-West Second Team.


ETBU Acrobatics and Tumbling participated in two meets during the Spring semester, competing against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Concordia University-Wisconsin. ETBU won the compulsory event by three points against UMHB and then set a new program record scoring 236.035 points against CUW. Academically, ETBU had 10 members named to the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) 2020 Academic Honor Roll. The Tiger Acrobatics & Tumbling recipients were Logan Angelle, Emily Buffington, Haylee Gentry, Berkley McDonald, Harleigh Prather, Rani Bentley, Hannah Hicks, Diana Garcia, Claire Rizzo, and Sarah Stanford.


ETBU finished the 2019 season as the FLW Southern Conference Champions earning the program’s first ever championship. They earned 1,752 points in the conference standings and finished eighth in the FLW Top 10 with 2,257 points, coming in less than 100 points from being the top program in the nation and 23 points from being in the top five. In January, Brett Clark and Cody Ross came in second place with a three-day total of 54 pounds at Toledo Bend for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series. The finish earned them a spot in the 2020 national tournament. The Tiger Bass Team competed in June at the Boat US National Championships that took place on Pickwick Lake in Alabama. Jacob Keith and Cannon Bird finished in 15th place out of over 200 boats at 28 pounds, 97 ounces.


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istory continues to be made for the East Texas Baptist University Hockey Team, who received a bid to the ACHA Division II West Regional Tournament in Boise, Idaho. ETBU Hockey, in their fourth year as a program, earned their first playoff bid as the #10 team in the region. "Earning the bid was a very emotional moment for me and all the guys, we are very excited about this,” ETBU Head Hockey Coach Alain Savage said. “This is great for the program, as we are only in our fourth year. It is a big deal for all the players and coaching staff, who have been working for this all year long. It's pretty amazing to see.” The ACHA West Regional Tournament took place February 27-29, with 10 teams from the region competing for victories. ETBU won their opening game over California State University-Northridge, 5-4, in overtime. They finished the season at 24-5-1 after a, 6-1, loss to #3 Metropolitan State



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University of Denver. “The 2019-2020 ETBU Hockey team enjoyed an exciting and record breaking season that began in mid-August and wrapped up the last weekend of February. With the leadership of several key players that were part of the program in the inaugural season in 2016, as well as the growth of the team over the last few years, Tiger Hockey was the best collegiate team in Texas and represented the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference (TCHC) and ETBU very well in their first regional tournament. The strides that were made during the 19-20 season have helped the Tigers continue to recruit top hockey student-athletes that desire to be a part of a regionally and nationally ranked, Christcentered program from across the country and beyond,” Vice President for Student Engagement and Athletics Ryan Erwin said.


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ETBU Nursing and Elementary Teacher Prep Programs ranked in state 66country Hilltop and Summer 2020


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Excellence was showcased in East Texas Baptist University’s prestigious School of Nursing and Elementary Teacher Prep Programs, which were both recently recognized by state and national organizations. The School of Nursing was ranked as the #1 BSN program out of the 119 programs evaluated in Texas in 2020 by the Annual RegisteredNursing.org Registered Nurse (RN) Program State Rankings. “God has blessed us in so many ways – dedicated faculty and staff, networks of health care providers, community support, and state-of-the-art facilities,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. “Through these and many other gifts, God makes all things possible. This ranking is an example of God’s grace and gifts to prepare nurses for His healing ministry.” RN Program State Rankings are measured through analyzing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) pass rates, or, the percentage of graduates who pass the NCLEX following graduation. Many state boards of nursing use the total overall NCLEX pass rates to determine a nursing program’s ability to produce prepared and equipped students. “This is such an honor to receive this recognition for our nursing program,” ETBU Dean of the School of Nursing Rebekah Grigsby said. “Our mission at ETBU is to educate our students, and provide them with knowledge and competencies to deliver holistic, high-quality patientcentered care. Our value and emphasis in Christ-centered nursing care is foundational to the excellence in nursing our graduates provide. The success of our program reflects the commitment and hard work of both faculty and students. We celebrate this achievement, and our pursuit of excellence in nursing education continues.” ETBU’s School of Nursing consistently pursues the highest-quality learning outcomes to educate nurses who will leave the University and move into the community, nation, and world to minister to the needs of the patients they serve in the name of Jesus. With the move to the recently-restored, state-of-the-art education center in the Marshall Grand, East Texas Baptist’s School of Nursing continues its almost 30-year tradition of providing both a cutting-edge and Christ-centered educational experience. “When we moved to the new building, we saw how much work was put in to create a facility that would now meet the standard of our nursing program,” senior nursing major Chloe Jenkins said. “The Marshall Grand is a good picture of where ETBU’s program is at, because we’ve accomplished so much. It’s so motivating and exciting to be part of the success.” The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has named East Texas Baptist University’s Elementary Teacher Prep Program as one of the top 15 programs out of 1,000 programs across the nation for its strong commitment to evidence-based reading instruction. The NCTQ is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization



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that is committed to modernizing the teaching profession. “The School of Education strives to provide the best instruction for our teacher candidates in all areas while also applying our biblical Christian faith in order to serve all students,” Dean of the School of Education John Sargent said. “The ability to read and understand serves as the basis for all learning. We are pleased the National Council on Teacher Quality recognizes our program performance in early reading instruction. This recognition reflects the efforts of our professors to incorporate the principles of scientifically based reading research and explicit instruction throughout our coursework and experiences in the classroom.” A part of the NCTQ, the Teacher Prep Review, whose fourth school evaluation edition was released in early 2020, is composed of field experts dedicated to analyzing the requirements, syllabi, assignments, and coursework of respective graduate and undergraduate elementary teacher prep programs around the country. The mission of the NCQT is to forward the teaching profession, ensuring quality teachers for all children through the quality of teacher training institutions. “Given how uniquely popular nontraditional programs are in Texas, the low performance by these programs serves a real roadblock to improving literacy rates,” President of NCTQ Kate Walsh said. “Alternative certification programs provide close to 60 percent of the new teachers hired each year in Texas.” With a high illiteracy rate across the United States, and Texas falling below its usual performance this year, the NCTQ stated that ETBU serves as a role model and example of excellence for other programs that have not yet attained the same level of quality teacher training to emulate in seeking to improve. “Texas is committed to utilizing evidence-based techniques identified in the science of teaching reading so that every child can not only learn to read, but read well.” Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath said. “This requires those preparing to be elementary teachers to be trained on these techniques, and the science behind them. By requiring mastery of these instructional strategies, as the state legislature has now done, we will positively change the trajectory of educational outcomes for countless Texas children.” Among 14 other schools in Texas to receive A ratings, East Texas Baptist was the only to receive an A+ rating, demonstrating leadership in the realm of quality elementary teacher education and preparation. "ETBU's education program is astounding,” junior elementary education major Kayleigh Hill said. “The teachers and staff are very dedicated to preparing future teachers for anything that may occur in the classroom. I feel very lucky to be a part of this award-winning program."


DARKNESS ETBU music and theatre’s 2019-2020 season goes out with a bang as The Addams Family becomes unintentional final performance


hey’re creepy and they’re kooky, they’re mysterious and spooky, and they came to Marshall in East Texas Baptist University’s special musical performance of The Addams Family, which was staged at the new Memorial City Hall Performance Center in downtown Marshall February 27 – March 1. The musical boasted a Universityrecord attendance of over 1,700 patrons throughout the run of the show.



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Based on the zany 1960s sitcom, The Addams Family revolves around the iconic household with an affinity for the macabre: Gomez (sophomore Joshua Bumpas) and his wife Morticia (sophomore Caitlyn Bonnett), daughter Wednesday (junior Sarah Foster), son Pugsley (junior Karli Hubbert), butler Lurch (freshman Joel Simmons), crazy Uncle Fester (ETBU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Tommy Sanders), and kooky Grandma (junior

Avrie Chapman). The core characters are joined in this Broadway musical re-imagining by their ancestors—ghosts of famous individuals from the past with connections to the Addams family—as well as the outwardly normal Beinekes: Wednesday’s boyfriend Lucas (junior Brock Garrison) and his parents Mal (sophomore Codi Minotti) and Alice (senior Shelby Brown). Theatre Arts major, Junior Lilly Ponder stage managed the productions. "The Addams Family was unique because from the outside it can seem like a weird quirky show," Ponder explained. "The more time we spent with the script, there was a lot of underlying story that everyone can connect to. From the outset, director and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Joshua Scott knew the Addams clan was not exactly a normal family. But, despite the characters’ eccentricities, Scott believes there is an abundance of truth to be found in the script and lyrics of this show. “The controlling idea we championed from the beginning of the production process intentionally colors every single facet of this show: a family grows in faith when truth wins over deceit,” Scott said. “The story’s counter idea is both just as powerful and truthful as its controlling idea: doubt destroys relationships, community, and family when lies are


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championed over truth. These sentiments are echoed over and over again in the Word of God.” The themes of family, love, truth, and forgiveness are heavily evident in the musical, which ran on Broadway from 2010-2011. Scott intended the rehearsal process to replicate the way professionals prepare for a show, putting a special emphasis on creating meaningful characters and discovering how they interact, respond, and come together as an ensemble cast, while still maintaining a sense of fun and camaraderie. “The best moments were when the cast would be working through a scene and before you know it, our stomachs hurt from laughing so hard,” music education major Caitlyn Bonnett shared. “What made this show truly unique is the characters. Every single character, including the ancestors, had different traits that made the show interesting. Playing Morticia has stretched me as an actor. Tapping into how dark she is, was harder than I thought it would be, but professor Scott encouraged each of us to make decisions as actors instead of making the decisions for us.” ETBU students and faculty members in the cast and crew began rehearsing in October 2019 to bring the full-fledged production to the stage, which included eyecatching scenery designed by ETBU Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, John Dement, exquisite costumes created by Alli Williamson, and original choreography by Shalem Carr combined with a spectacular, Tony Award-nominated score. “The Addams Family has one of the most complicated musical scores I’ve ever had to sing in a show,” junior theatre education major Elaina Berry said. “The choreography has also been a challenge for us, but there is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get when you conquer a challenge. It gives an added layer to the performance that makes it all the more special. I hope when people walked away from this performance, they were thinking about families and the love they share on a deeper level.” In addition to being the highest-attended show in University history, The Addams Family marked ETBU’s first musical performance held at the recently renovated Memorial City Hall Performance Center. Built in 1907, the Memorial City Hall that once accommodated city offices, courts, and a municipal auditorium was extensively refurbished to house a state-of-the-art auditorium and performing arts center, as well as the Harrison County Veterans Museum. Taking on such a complicated production at a new venue marks a bold new direction for ETBU music and theatre, serving to highlight the departments’ hard work and talent while attracting new talent to join them at ETBU. “I believe that Mr. Scott and Mr. Dement are moving ETBU’s theatre department in an interesting new direction,” sophomore mass communication major Cody Minotti opined. “With these changes, more people will get to see these wonderful shows and want to be a part of them. Other productions in the 2019-20 season included



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Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, directed by ETBU Professor John Dement, and Girls’ Night Out, an evening of one-act plays including Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart and Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias, directed by ETBU theatre education students Emory Lambert and Stephanie Barajas, respectively. The Addams Family was originally scheduled to be followed by a performance of the classic Broadway thriller, Gaslight, by Patrick Hamilton, but the show was cancelled in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, as ETBU moved to online learning for the safety of students and faculty. Despite the Theatre Department’s interrupted plans, director Scott believes that in this time of crisis, the themes of family and love in The Addams Family are even more important. “One of the lyrics from the show that resonated most with our production team—and an ideal that we championed in rehearsals–was ‘Family first, family last, and family by and by,’” Scott added. “How incredible is it that in the midst of all this mess we are blessed with the gift of connecting with our spouses and children as we quarantined at home and learned together how to battle the darkness around us, how to move through the questioning and doubt and be the Light in the midst of it all?”


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ETBU Congreso Experience encourages Hispanic students to embrace God’s call As a Christ-centered institution, the ETBU student experience is characterized by Christian faith integration. The University is continually finding ways for junior high and high school students to engage socially and spiritually while on campus. In partnership with Texas Baptists (BGCT), East Texas Baptist University hosted a Congreso Experience for the second year in a row. The event, themed “Witness,” focused on Acts 1:8 and encouraged more than 100 local student participants from area churches in their pursuit of God’s calling on their lives. “The purpose for Congreso is to provide a regional experience for Hispanic students who are in junior and high school to help strengthen their faith in God,” Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Jeremy Johnston said. “At ETBU, we believe in transforming our community. We start with the people on our campus, and we equip them to go and make a difference.” Texas Baptists is a fellowship of diverse churches,



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institutions, and organizations working together to continue Jesus’ ministry of sharing the Gospel and transforming communities. Hosted once a year by affiliated organizations, Congreso Experiences are one-day events held regionally that provide a taste of the annual three-day Congreso conference specifically designed for Hispanic youth in 6th grade and above. The Congreso Hispanic Conference is the largest annual gathering of Hispanic Baptist youth in North America. Over 3,000 students meet each year for worship, preaching, and small group training in evangelism and discipleship. “The students and families attending Congreso represent the Hispanic Christian leaders of the next generation,” event presenter and ETBU Admissions Specialist Jayme Perez said. “Our hope, as presenters, was for these future leaders to walk away with practical knowledge to put in to practice as Christian youth growing up in a secular world.” Small group workshops led by ETBU faculty and staff dealt with topics that teenagers often face, such as maintaining relationships in a digital age, while breakout sessions led by Congreso staff focused on pastoring and working with youth. “You have to work towards what God is calling you to do,” ETBU Admissions Counselor and Worship Panelist Ana Asencio shared. “It is so easy to get discouraged. The more you are devoted to worship, the more you work on it, and the more you develop it. Your calling will hold more value if it is something that you practice often.” Worship was led by Greenville Church, and the day’s message was delivered by ETBU Alumnus and Director of Expansion and Development at Buckner International Sergio Ramos ('93), who told the story of Mary and Martha found in the Bible to illustrate how easy it is to get distracted from following God. “What we do becomes the center of everything,” Ramos said to the students. “Jesus wants to be the center of your life, but if you are distracted, the first thing that goes away is your time with God. You’re not going to hear His voice unless you are listening for it. I cannot make you follow Jesus Christ or witness to the people at your school, but I challenge you to make the decision to follow him despite all the obstacles and distractions.” Students experienced the importance of serving and helping the community through volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Marshall, and Dayspring Therapeutic Equestrian Center. These volunteer efforts contributed to the partnerships that ETBU has built with community organizations throughout Marshall. “My favorite part of Congreso was the service project because we got to help so many kids.” Congreso attendee Eliud Martinez said. “I was really happy because they were happy to be around us. I shared with a little boy who asked me about the Bible. I started talking to him and he was very happy and said that he was glad he got to meet me," Martinez added. "I’ve been to Congreso the past two years and I plan on coming back next year.”

Accent on Alumni 2010s Harlie Gooch (’18) graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Master of Science in Forensic Science. She will work as a Drug Chemist II with the Dallas County Institute of Forensic Sciences. Matthew Dunlap (’17) recently graduated from New York University with a Master’s of Music Technology. He and his wife, Laura (Hohimer) Dunlap (’04) reside in New York. Chris Dier (’10) was named one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. Chris was already serving as the 2020 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Chris! After serving for 2 years as Executive Director of a Christian nonprofit in Oregon, Impact Pendleton, Danae (Corley) Stack (’10) will be relocating and taking on a new role as Director of Operations at Faith Ascent Ministries in St. Louis, Missouri.

immediately joined the Army Nurse Corps. During her 16 years of military service, Montiel has served three tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Congratulations Lieutenant Colonel! Dr. Kelly Anderson (’03) earned a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and a specialization in mathematics from the University of Houston—Clear Lake during their Fall 2019 Commencement. Dr. Anderson is a professor of mathematics at San Jacinto College in Houston. Dr. James Pritchard (’03) became First Baptist Church Lafayette’s Senior Pastor April 12, 2020. He had previously been serving as the Teaching Pastor at FBC Forney since 2015. He and his wife, Kim (’05), have five children.

Bick Gibbs (’99) is now the Associate Pastor and Youth Director at LifeBridge Baptist Church in Deer Park. He and his wife, Hannah, also recently welcomed Stella Noel Gibbs to their family on February 16, 2020.

Congratulations to Michael Prather (’07) for being named the Head Men’s Basketball Coach for Millsaps College.

Congratulations to Greg Beane (’99) for being named a Partner of The Webb Family Law Firm, P.C. in Dallas.

Luke McFarlane ('07) has been named Elementary Assistant Principal for Orangefield ISD. McFarlane has taught biology at Orangefield High School for nine years and has a total of 13 years experience in education.


2000s Congratulations to John Sullens (’00) on being named the Shreveport Shriners Hospital Nurse of the Year for 2020! John earned a Religion degree from ETBU and served as a pastor before earning his nursing degree. Congrats again, John, on this distinguished honor! Major Sonia Montiel (’03) was recently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. After her graduation from ETBU, she



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leadership roles at Chase since 2013, most recently as the Head of Transformation for Home Lending. Prior to that as Head of Servicing, he led significant improvements in the customer experience as evidenced by record customer satisfaction and J.D. Power results, including #1 big bank in the annual national servicer’s survey two years in a row. Peter has also managed a portfolio of 7.3 million mortgages representing a combined balance of $1 trillion. Prior to joining Chase, Peter was Senior Vice President of Special Portfolio Management and Servicing Strategies at GMAC Mortgage.

1990s Joel Henneke (’91) was named the principal of Homewood Middle School in Homewood, Alabama. Henneke has been assistant principal at Homewood Middle School for four years, and he has 22 years of experience in education as a teacher and an administrator at the middle and high school level. Peter Muriungi (’98) was recently appointed the CEO of Chase Auto. Peter has held various

Texas Baptist Men named Alan Huesing (’78) as state director for Royal Ambassadors and Challengers beginning May 1, 2020. George Moore (’71) was inducted into the Texarkana ISD Hall of Fame on March 3. Moore served as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent during his time at TISD. This honor is given to retired employees who made a significant impact within the district and community.

DEATHS Faculty, Staff, and Friends of ETBU

The ETBU Family is saddened by the passing of Dr. Donald Alford who went home to be with the Lord May 17, 2020. Dr. Alford was a beloved professor and served as the Dean of the School of Education. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and former students. John Scull passed away May 20, 2020. John served as a member of the ETBU Board of Trustees for 20 years through the 1990s and 2000s.

40s Doris (Pierce) Gerron (’49) passed away on January 30, 2020. Doris was a longtime teacher, counselor, and principal for Ennis ISD. She will be missed by many. Norma (Cornelius) Terrell (’48) passed away January 30, 2020. Norma taught school for 29 years in Longview, Lancaster, Corpus Christi, and Garland, Texas. She retired in May of 1986, and was a member of the Transformation Anglican Church.

50s Claudine (McIntire) Oswald (attd. ’51) passed away on December 22, 2019, in Lufkin, Texas. James Huse (’52) went home to be with the Lord May 25, 2020 at the age of 91. He was a Pastor at the First Indian Baptist Church in Albuquerque, Mescalero Baptist Mission and Pilgrims Way Baptist Church in Sanger. He was married to Florence Jean Matteson in 1950 until her death in 1966. They had 6 children. He then married Joan Alice Urch in 1968 and they had 2 children and adopted 3 children. They also were foster parents for over 200 children. He will be missed by his children, 18 grandkids, and 25 great-grandchildren. Nelda Joy Parks Carter (’53) passed away Dec 30, 2019. She graduated from Crockett High School in 1949. While just a child of 16, she enrolled in East Texas Baptist College. Her time at

ETBC was inspirational and amazing. While there, she worked on campus and was active in the Young Women’s Auxiliary, Yearbook, Choir, and Baptist Student Union. Nelda also served as a class officer, received the President’s Award, was named Shamrock Queen, and was awarded Call-Out Girl in 1953. Joseph William “Billy” Westmoreland, Jr. (’54) went to be with the Lord on December 31, 2019. Billy’s greatest joy was serving Jesus at Woodlawn Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and a Sunday school teacher. He will be missed by his wife, Nancy (’66), children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. Joe Cruz (attd. ’57) passed away July 23, 2018.

addition to being a pillar of support for her husband, Rebecca loved her children and grandchildren fiercely and will be missed dearly. Loretta (Layne) Hall (’70) died June 23, 2020. Loretta was a devoted teacher for 35 years and loved helping people obtain their GED. She loved her family, her grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren immensely.

80s Fred McRae Roberson Jr. (’83), who most called Trey, passed away July 6, 2020, after a 10-year battle with cancer. It was at ETBC that he met his wife of 35 years, Karen (Knowles) Roberson (’84). Trey and Karen spent their entire marriage in ministry at Baptist churches across Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana. Trey loved God’s Word and His church, and Trey dedicated his life to sharing the love of Christ.

60s Al Jordan (’62) passed away on November 27, 2019. He studied music during his time at ETBC. He is survived by his wife, Belinda Jordan (attd.’62), and will be missed by many. Lou Anne Haggard (attd. ’60) passed away June 4, 2020. She was a reporter and editor of the Jefferson Jimplecute newspaper and a longtime member of First Baptist Church of Jefferson.

70s Rebecca (Hunt) Harris (’74) went to be with the Lord on June 8, 2020. Rebecca was married to Dr. W. Bryan Harris in 1972, celebrating 48 years of unity, faithfulness, and devotion on May 26, 2020. They built their lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and as a pastor’s wife and educator, she ministered to countless people in Vivian, Louisiana; Naples, Texas; Tyler, Texas; Longview, Texas; Columbus, Mississippi; Texas City, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Duncanville, Texas; Salinas, California; Vallejo, California; and Orange, Virginia. In

Russell Minton (’88) passed away on February 24, 2020, after a long battle with cancer. He will be missed by his family and friends. Brenda (Speights) Walker (’82) passed away June 8, 2020. Brenda served as a full-time faculty member at Blinn College since 2016. Prior to that, she was a supervisor and manager in Health Information Management at CHRISTUS Schumpert and Highland in Shreveport for 26 years. Margie Dawson, former ETBU First Lady, went to be with the Lord on July 1, 2020. Dr. Jerry Dawson and wife Margie served ETBU faithfully as President and First Lady from 19761986. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for memorial gifts to the Margie Dawson Scholarship Fund at ETBU. To make a memorial gift, visit www.ETBU. edu/give. Please join the ETBU Family in praying for the Dawson family including their son, Carey (’82) and daughter and son-in-law, Jamie (’81) and Steve Barksdale (’81).


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90s Helen (Stanley) Ferrell (’92) died May 31, 2020 at the age of 96. Helen was a faithful member of First Baptist Longview and an East Texas native.

WEDDINGS AND ANNIVERSARIES Anniversaries Michael and Judy (Scott) Thompson (attd. ’69) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on July 17, 2020. Tyler (’16) and Cassidy (Muniz) Tolopka (’16, ’18) celebrated their second wedding anniversary on June 16, 2020. The couple resides in San Antonio where Tyler is entering his 2nd year of medical school at UIWSOM and Cassidy is pursuing her career as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Weddings Austin Lanier (attd.’16) married Destiny Ratcliff (’19) in East Texas on January 4, 2020, surrounded by family and friends. Joshua Britnell (’19) and Carrie Sparks (’18) tied the knot on December 6, 2019, at Stone Oak Ranch. The couple will reside in Mount Pleasant. Clayton Bell (’19) and Sarah Smitherman (’19) were married on February 22, 2020, at Grace



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Community Church in Tyler. Clayton and Sarah met in high school but loved their time at ETBU, and are grateful to have attended such a wonderful university. Mason Aldredge (’18) married Kayley Day (’18) on January 11, 2020 in Dallas. The couple met on move-in day their freshmen year, began dating a week into the semester, and have been together ever since. Mason and Kayley will reside in Keller. Daniel Vaughan (’15) married Lauren McCollum (’18) on March 22, 2020. The couple held an intimate ceremony of 10 ten people to comply with CDC guidelines at First Baptist Marshall. The couple will reside in Marshall and plans to host their big day later in 2020.

Gloria Baker (’20) married Jordan Bishop on May 30, 2020. Due to Covid restrictions the couple moved the wedding to a family lake house in Gladewater. Thankfully, several family and friends were still able to celebrate with them. Alicen Guedry (’16) married Kyle Ferguson on June 6, 2020 during a small intimate Christ-centered ceremony in Port Arthur. Alicen is the daughter of John (’91) and Elizabeth (Hatch) Guedry (’91), and the granddaughter of John (’67) and Alice (Sims) Hatch (’70). Al Fowler (’19) and Hannah Lawson (’19) were married in Carrollton on June 14, 2020. The couple met at Planet Fitness in Marshall while attending ETBU.

Jesse Burns (’20) and Madison Moore (’19) tied the knot on May 16, 2020, at Madison’s family farm, Buena Vista Farm, in Henderson. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to limit their wedding to immediate family only, but are so thrilled to begin their life together.

Zachary Smithee (’17) married Taylor Bankston (’17) June 20, 2020. The couple had a small wedding with just their parents and siblings in Golden, Colorado.

TIGER CUBS Lauren Jablon (’19) married Cole Clinton on June 6, 2020 at Villa Di Felicita in Tyler. The couple was surrounded by 200 of their closest family and friends.

Teresa (Cornett) (’05) and Andrew Parsons welcomed a new baby, Tobias Greg Parsons, on January 23, 2020. 9 lbs. 9 oz. 21 3/4". Tobias joins big brother, Silas (6), and big sister, Anastasia (3).

Ryan (’17) and Gabrielle (Garcia) Baggett (’16) welcomed their son, Elijah Maxwell Baggett, on January 2, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Jonathan (’10) and Allison (Meriwether) Rogenmoser (’11) welcomed their third child Thomas Allen Rogenmoser on May 28, 2019. Siblings Olivia and Jonathan adore their little brother. Josh (’17) and Ashley (Mills) Young (’17) are thrilled to welcome their future Tiger Addison Tymber Young born March 29, 2020.

Madden Arms, son of Lori (Hoffpauir) Arms (’97), shows off his Tiger Pride in his new Tiger Club shirt.

Chirsty (Shipley) Gipson (’07) and her husband, Coby, welcomed their son Casen Seth James Gipson into the world on April 17, 2020.

Taylor and Kenzie (Hunt) Talbert (’15) brought their daughter, Hazel, for her first visit to the Hill!

Anna Rice (’17) welcomed her son Emerson James on May 24, 2020. Emerson joins a family full of Tigers. His grandparents, David (’93) and Celina Rice (’93), and Uncle Luke Rice (’20) are all Tiger graduates.

Jacob Burt, son of Jared (’05) and Sara (Teat) Burt (’03), shows off his new Tiger Club shirt. He is the last one of his four siblings to graduate into the Tiger Club.

STAY CONNECTED WITH US New jobs, weddings, births, accomplishments, memorials, updates—whatever your news, share it with your ETBU Family.

ENDOWMENT NOTES In honor of the life and legacy of service of former Professor Emeritus James Moore (’60), the University created the James A. Moore Endowed Scholarship to support choral students. In his estate planning, Roger Roades (’81) established the Roger A. Roades Endowed Scholarship to support music students. John Sharp (’55) of Summerville, Georgia, recently established the John and Kathryn Sharp Endowed Scholarship Fund. Friends of the University, Steve and Linda Sides of Hallsville, TX, established the Linda Hesser Sides and Steve Sides Endowed Scholarship to support students from Harrison County who are preparing for ministry.

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Alumni Relations East Texas Baptist University One Tiger Drive Marshall, TX 75670



Update Online:


Emily Roberson Director of Alumni Relations and Advancement Communication

Irene Sisk (’48) of Bonham gave $100,000 to her alma mater. She designated $75,000 for the new Sisk Health Services Clinic and $25,000 for an endowed student scholarship in memory of her late husband, Dr. Walter Sisk, M.D., which will support students preparing for a Summer 2020 79 Hilltop career in the medical field.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.



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Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called Children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven

Matthew 5:3-10

Managing Editor Becky Davis (’18) Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Communication Writers Sydney McBride Communication Coordinator Emily Roberson Director of Alumni Relations and Advancement Communication Ashley Schenck (’19) Graduate Assistant Josh Bumpas Designers Julie Baugus Senior Design Coordinator Will Edwards Digital Media Coordinator Shannon Page (’99) Web Development Coordinator Ashley Schenck Photographers Julie Baugus James Coreas Will Edwards Katy Harmon (’18) Mason Hays Carleigh Walker University Leadership Dr. J. Blair Blackburn President Dr. Thomas Sanders Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Scott Bryant Vice President for Advancement Becky Davis ('18) Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Communication Ryan Erwin Vice President for Student Engagement and Athletics Lee Ferguson Vice President for Financial Affairs Jeremy Johnston Vice President for Enrollment Academic Leadership Dr. Joseph D. Brown Dean, Frank S. Groner School of Professional Studies Dr. Rebekah Grigsby Dean, School of Nursing Dr. Colleen Halupa Dean, Online Learning Dr. John L. Harris Dean, School of Christian Studies Dr. Barry Evans Dean, Fred Hale School of Business Elizabeth Ponder Dean, Library Services Dr. Emily Prevost Associate Provost Dr. John Sargent Dean, School of Education Dr. Laurie Smith Dean, School of Natural and Social Sciences Dr. Sandy Hoover Dean, School of Humanities Dr. Thomas R. Webster Dean, School of Communication and Performing Arts Dr. Marty Warren Dean, Academic Services and Institutional Research

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