From Staff Reports

MARSHALL — East Texas Baptist University has received a $20,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Marshall to put toward the renovation of the eighth floor of the historical Marshall Grand.

“This is a really unique opportunity, and we are very excited to see what the university is doing here in Marshall. The difference ETBU is making in the lives of young adults is tremendous,” Marshall Rotary District Liaison Ted Huffhines said. “Rotary is about making lives better, and while we do a lot of things internationally, it is great for us to be able to make an impact here locally, and we are excited about that.”

After the building was given to the university in 2013, ETBU raised more than $4 million to renovate the Marshall Grand, with significant contributions from the Andersen Foundation, Moody Foundation, Meadows Foundation and J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation.

The School of Nursing Campaign also garnered support from foundations across the state, including the Rosa May Griffin Foundation, the T. J. and LaVerne Plunkett Foundation and the Wece and Martha Johnson Foundation.

While donor support provided the means to complete the academic spaces, three floors of the Marshall Grand remain unfinished as the university continues to raise funds and make decisions on how to best utilize the additional spaces.

“The Rotary Club of Marshall has certainly given a gift to East Texas Baptist University, but they have also given a gift to the city of Marshall,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “We would not have this building here if it were not for the generations of people in Marshall who came before us, and for those who have provided resources to help make this building restoration happen.

“I value the work that the Rotary Club does, and the investment that they have made in our community and now in our university. The Grand Hall will be a beautiful banquet/large event space, and we want it to be something special for the community of Marshall.”

The university has begun renovating the eighth floor into the Grand Hall, an open ballroom-type facility that can accommodate up to 280 guests in banquet-style and 400 seats theater-style.

The space is intended for use by ETBU for dinners, dances, ceremonies and other university life activities. Community organizations such as the Rotary Club will also be able to utilize the building for meetings, conferences, seminars and other events.

“When this was the old hotel, Marshall Rotary met here, so in my heart and the hearts of other members in the club, this is a very worthwhile project,” Huffhines said. “Just having the opportunity to see what East Texas Baptist University has done to put the nursing school in, we’re excited to see this and to be a part of these next steps.

“We look forward to its completion and the opportunities for our community to utilize the space in the future.”