By Kimberlee Hauss
In the past two years, the name Carl Grant has conjured up one image in the minds of the Union community: the Carl Grant Events Center.
This $3.5 million, 16,000- square-foot conference center and banquet hall dedicated in October 2008 has been a crucial post-tornado addition to the university. It has served as a place to hold Union Forums, conferences and other gatherings without overtaking the Student Dining Hall.
“When we used to have events, we would have to move student dining to another location,” said Dr. Charles Fowler, associate professor of Christian ministries and education and senior vice president for university relations.
“Now because of (Grant’s) generosity, students have their space where they are served and cared for daily and the special events have a home that does not inconvenience our students.”
What most do not realize, however, is that Grant and his wife Peggy Jo have been greatly involved in supporting Union for years, specifically since 1999 through scholarships.
“The Carl Grant scholarship is one of the scholarships that has enabled me to attend Union,” said Sarah Golding, junior education major. “Without this scholarship, I would probably not be at Union, and I am so grateful to Carl Grant for his generosity to me and to Union University.”
Grant grew up in Duck Hill, Miss., and started out with $267 after high school. He invested his money, worked hard and fulfilled the “American dream.” He became a realtor, real estate salesman and home builder and was named “Builder of the Year.” Grant made his home in Memphis, Tenn., served as president of the Memphis Area Home Builders Association and founded the Home Builders Association of Tennessee.
“Out of the abundance of blessing the Lord has given to (Grant), he feels as a matter of conviction that he should take what God has given to him and reinvest it in the lives of students,” Fowler said.
Fowler also said Grant became interested in supporting Union University because of his desire to see young people from this region have access to a Christian institution and education.
Grant set up a system through his home church, Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, to offer scholarships to students planning to attend Union. He and his wife personally interview candidates, speak to references and examine the family’s financial status. Once they decide to provide support, the student must agree to work part-time while in school and maintain a certain grade point average.
Because of Grant’s giving spirit and vital funding, 129 students have received a Christ-centered, academically challenging education through this scholarship alone.
He has consistently donated to the annual scholarship banquet and Fowler called Grant a “transformational giver for the university.”
Joy Howard, junior education major, is another life that Grant’s scholarship has touched.
“This scholarship has provided much-needed assistance for my tuition here at Union,” Howard said. “Unlike other scholarships, this one has a personal element to it since someone from the Carl Grant family calls me each year to see how school is going. I am grateful for their investment in my educational experience.”