The Mid-South School of Banking in Memphis has gotten an $8 million grant from the Paul W. Barret Jr. Charitable Trust and announced that it would rename itself in honor of the late Tennessee banker.

M.E. Bond, the school’s executive director, said the grant is “absolutely, without question,” the largest the school has ever gotten. Renaming the school the Paul W. Barret Jr. School of Banking is the least its board could do, he added.

The grant will be used to create a graduate school of banking, to establish a lecture series that will also be named in Mr. Barret’s honor, and to help attract students from other states.

Since its founding in 1979, Mid-South has offered a three-year undergraduate banking program and weekly seminars for bankers from Tennessee and surrounding states. Mr. Barret, who ran privately held Barret Bancorp Inc. in Barretville, Tenn., most of his life, never attended the school, but he sent many of his employees there, Mr. Bond said.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to honor this excellent businessman and are extremely excited about the changes that will occur at our school,” Mr. Bond said.

After Mr. Barret’s death in December 1999, his 60% stake in the banking company and all his other assets were put into a trust to be used to support local nonprofit groups and charities. Trustmark Corp. of Jackson, Miss., bought the $516 million-asset banking company in March.

Lewis Donelson, the lawyer overseeing the trust, said the Mid-South grant is the second-largest of 20 made by Mr. Barret’s charitable trust. It was given to the banking school “as a tribute to Paul Barret,” he said, adding that the trustees were certain the school is something Mr. Barret would want to support if he were still alive.

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