East Texas Baptist University celebrates the second-highest enrollment in ETBU’s 106-year history with 1,593 total students.

The Fall 2019 enrollment exhibits 84% undergraduate retention — the highest of record and 4% above the 5-year average.

This high retention rate is a reflection of expanded student life and spiritual development activities, academic support and opportunities, alumni interactions, donor support, facility improvements, and athletic participation.

The collaborative effort of the institution’s Academic Affairs, Athletics, Alumni Relations, Advancement, and Admissions divisions has led to consistent cohort retention rates for both transfer and freshman cohorts. Plus, a record 451 students enrolled in the August Mini-Term, which allows completion of the equivalent semester-long class in one week.

“From meeting students at college fairs to moving boxes into their residence halls, the Admissions Staff is dedicated to helping students achieve their dream of receiving a Christ-centered education by navigating them through the process,” ETBU Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Jeremy Johnston said. “Each student contributes to the larger purpose of the University. It is a shared conviction to invest in students during this transitional season. If students use the resources put in front of them, they will leave changed and prepared to be successful.”

With University-wide growth comes the need for facility enhancements.

East Texas Baptist recently completed the first phase of the Oaks on Grove Townhomes, new apartment-style student residences located on Grove Street across from the main campus, with six more townhomes to be constructed in future phases.

Construction is also set to begin soon for Chapel on the Hill and Kenny Ponder Park; a sacred space for prayer, reflection, and commitment among the ETBU community.

The Jenna Guest Music Building and Redwine Instrumental Building have been completely renovated, while remodeling continues on the academic space for the School of Professional Studies in Craig Hall.

East Texas Baptist’s School of Nursing is now located at the downtown campus in the historic Marshall Grand, including new classrooms, a simulation lab, skills laboratory, and study area.

Additionally, opening in Spring 2020, Chick-fil-A returns to Marshall, and will be located on ETBU’s campus in the Ornelas Student Life Center. These improvements will allow the growing Tiger student population the space needed to thrive academically, spiritually, and socially.

“The Marshall Grand is beautiful and there is so much space. It creates a community that allows us to be together,” junior nursing major Kari Green said. “We will be right in the middle of the community.

“We will be here more often and have more access to the downtown businesses. It will help the students get more involved in the community.”

The ETBU student experience is characterized by Christian faith integration. Through Christian scholarship, ministries, missions, chapel, worship, Bible studies, discipleship, and prayer, the University’s goal is for students to encounter the Lord and discover His plan for their future.

The Thrive initiative, ETBU’s new Quality Enhancement Program, connects students with faculty and staff, who mentor them and keep them accountable in their relationships with God and others.

The mentorship program, which began this fall semester, has over 200 upperclassmen and 120 freshmen participating, with nearly 100 faculty and staff members committed to mentor students throughout their college careers.

“Every student has a place to be involved in the life of the community. We all have something to give and it doesn’t matter what we look like or where we came from, our gift or our major, we all have a way we can serve,” Assistant Provost Dr. Emily Prevost said during her chapel message to students. “When we choose to serve and be connected to the community, to offer our gifts to those around us, we have the opportunity to thrive.”

In addition to being involved in the community and on campus, the Thrive program focuses on prospering academically. ETBU Nursing students achieved a 100% pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the fifth consecutive year.

ETBU was also recently recognized as the sixth-ranked RN Program in Texas out of 119 programs evaluated and 50 ranked, according to RegisteredNursing.org.

“We want our graduates to be Christian servant leaders and lifelong learners,” ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. “The University’s commitment to the integration of academic discipline and faith in Jesus Christ is symbolized by the ‘light of knowledge’, which stands in front of Marshall Hall.

“Our faculty and staff are passionate about participating in every student’s academic and spiritual development. Students who choose to be an ETBU Tiger will find excellent programs, caring support, and genuine community.”

While East Texas Baptist continues to see updated facilities and increased enrollment, its mission of providing a transformational, Christ-centered education remains constant.

“With the giftedness each student contributes to the campus community, we are extremely grateful to God for His faithful provision to bring these students to ETBU to grow intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “We are prayerful that our students will be filled with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge, and with all kinds of skills.

“What an awesome opportunity and responsibility we have to educate, equip, and empower students to pursue truth and to challenge students to walk faithfully as Christian servant leaders!”