Thursday, April 9, 2015

LETU Students Organize Event to Remember Rwandan Genocide of 1994

LeTourneau University is blessed to have citizens from 37 different nations on campus.  They come here as students of our academic disciplines and the U.S. culture.  But, these students can also be teachers. 

This Saturday, on April 11, is a great example.

Several of our Rwandan students will become our teachers as they have organized an event "Urumuri Rutazima," which means "Flame of Eternal Peace," in commemoration of the Rwandan genocide of 1994.   

The student-led event has attracted the attention of special guest Professor Mathilde Mukantabana, ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States, who will speak at the event. 

April, which was the month that the genocide began in 1994,  has now become a month when Rwandans across the globe pause to remember the atrocities and seek to heal their country through forgiveness and reconciliation. 

The event begins with prayer at 3 p.m. at Speer Chapel and will include a solemn unity walk around the university loop.  The walk mirrors one that occurs each year in April when the President of Rwanda leads his people from the parliament building to the stadium where just the simple act of being together in solidarity brings healing, peace and reconciliation.  It also represents a time to celebrate the rebirth of their nation. 

The program includes an educational short film, a student-written play and poem, along with a testimony of a genocide survivor. 

One of the organizers was quoted in the Longview News-JournalSunday: "We rose from ashes to a nation," Mutesi said. "Now, there is no more Hutu; there is no more Tutsi. We are all Rwandan, and that is beautiful." 

We are all invited.  I hope you will come to campus Saturday to learn and celebrate God's healing in Rwanda. 
Pictured with Dr. Lunsford, center, are Charity Mutesi, left, and Tamara Birasa,  right, who have organized Saturday's event to commemorate the rebirth of Rwanda following the 1994 genocide in their home country.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Honoring LeTourneau Faculty

LeTourneau University is not defined by programs nor facilities.  It is our faculty and staff and the way we interact with our students and community that define LeTourneau University. 

That's why it was a pleasure to honor several faculty this week who have recently been recognized by their peers, administration and university trustees for meritorious service to LETU.  At a lunch Tuesday, Dr. Coyle and I gathered with those who have just received tenure or been promoted. A list is found here.

Education transforms lives.  Our faith in Christ transforms lives.  That's been my personal experience.  And the transforming power of education and faith is why we are here.   Our faith and staff at LETU do a great job of modeling the intersection of faith and learning.  It's a combination of powers that God can use to redeem our world.

Professor emeritus standing was awarded to Dr. Paul Kubricht and Dr. John Feezell, in recognition of outstanding service, steadfast and professional leadership, and faithful dedication to the academic and Christian of LETU.
Tenure is the means whereby LETU rewards  contributions by faculty to the university, students and the community and is an earned privilege for excellent service, signifying a greater sense of belonging, institutional acceptance, stability and community with the university. 

Tenure was renewed for Lois Knouse (4th renewal), Matt Poelman (2nd), Dr. Andree Elliott (2nd), Dr. Judy Taylor (2nd) and Brad Wooden (2nd).

First time tenure awardees included Dr. Bruce Hathaway, Dr. Jesse French, Jeff Johnson, Dr. Mark Jonah, Dr. Seung Kim and Norm Reese. Jesse, Mark, Seung and Norm were also all promoted from assistant to associate professor. Jeff was promoted from instructor to assistant professor. Bruce is already a full professor.

Promotions from assistant to associate professor included Dr. Darla Baggett and Dr. Curtis Wesley, while Dr. Karl Payton, Dr. Kathy Stephens and Dr. Judy Taylor were each promoted from associate to full professor.

As you see them around campus, be sure to congratulate them for their accomplishments. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

LETU to Announce Health Sciences Partnership with Pine Tree ISD

LeTourneau University and Pine Tree ISD will soon announce a new dual credit health sciences partnership to begin in Fall 2015.

This new program will allow qualified PTISD students to enroll in specialized dual credit health services courses at LETU to gain dual high school and college credits, starting in their freshman year of high school. 

What this new program does is enable these talented high school students to complete several college-level hours toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree by the time they graduate from high school. By streamlining their education, they can complete college more efficiently--in less time and at less cost--because they can begin their freshman year in college with as many as 30 credit hours, nearly a whole year ahead.  LETU faculty and dean will maintain full control of course content, curricular outcomes and assessments.

House Bill 5 that was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry creates a high school diploma that provides students a variety of postsecondary options in school and workforce by earning endorsements in one of five areas, including Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

HB5 enables school districts to partner with higher education and industry to develop rigorous courses at the local level to address the workforce needs in the community. In the fall of 2013, Longview Regional Medical Center increased its capacity of beds to 230, nearly doubling the number from the previous year. And Good Shepherd Medical Center has added a 74,000-square foot outpatient and 24-hour emergency center. 

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a third of occupations expected to see rapid growth are related to health care in the coming years.  Employment for registered nurses is expected to increase by 26% before 2020.  More than 700,000 more nurses will be needed, partly due to the aging population and increase in people with multiple, chronic health conditions requiring increased care.

The growth in the number of people needing health care coupled with professional nurses reaching retirement age increases demand for nursing education programs like the one we have begun at LETU.

This new dual-credit partnership will help us meet these needs for qualified, compassionate, Christ-centered nurses who make a difference in the future for all of us.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Benefits of Christian Higher Education

Here's some encouraging news to share. Students in Christian higher education are more satisfied with their experience than students on secular campuses. 

I looked at the data at the recent annual meeting of CCCU presidents in Washington, D.C.

Comparing the experience of our CCCU students with those at other four-year private institutions is eye-opening.

72% of CCCU students report that their school shows concern for them as individuals compared to only 56% at other private schools. 74% believe the "faculty care about me as an individual." 

Overall, 68% of students at CCCU schools are satisfied with their education experience. This compares to 56% at other private campuses.

Add this to other measures, including that CCCU students have higher graduation rates and loan repayment records,  and you must conclude Christian higher education is doing a great job. And student benefits are both worldly and heavenly.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Awarding Service in Longview

Tuesday evening was memorable for me. Longview Chamber of Commerce chairman Brad Tidwell presented me with the Chairman's Award for service to the Longview community before a crowd of about 500 people at the chamber's annual banquet at Maude Cobb Convention Center.

The Chairman's Award is presented annually to a person who demonstrates dedication and vision for the Longview Community. The program included a short video.

I was honored to be recognized, but humbled, too, because promoting the growth and prosperity of Longview is truly a privilege to me. I see LeTourneau University's future and the future of the city of Longview as distinctly linked together: What is good for Longview is good for LeTourneau University, and what is good for LeTourneau University is good for Longview.

Over the past few years, I have lead a citizen's task force to make improvements to the I-20 corridor so people don't get the "wrong view" of Longview. I've been involved in leading fact-finding trips to other cities to help spur creativity and positive thinking for improvements to consider for Longview. Most recently, I have had the opportunity to serve on a committee drafting a long-term comprehensive plan that can serve as a road map for the city's future. Our successes have been the result of a team effort, benefiting from the talents and abilities of many in the community working together.

I greatly appreciate having been selected, along with LeTourneau University alumna and Longview Chamber of Commerce President Kelly Hall, who was surprised to also be honored with the Chairman's Award for her tireless efforts to improve the city. Kelly is one of the most outstanding Chamber professionals in Texas.

Very many of you care deeply about our community and have supported my efforts. I share this award with you!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thoughts on Christmas

Our family Christmas stockings are now hanging on our fireplace mantel at home--a very important fact to my granddaughter who has been concerned because the apartment where she lives has no fireplace. "How will Santa bring gifts without a chimney?, she asked me recently. I assured her that her stocking was hanging at my fireplace, and Santa would find her.

Of course, Santa's entry is important to a five-year-old. As Jesus-followers, we understand that Christmas is most importantly about God's entry into our own world. It is, after all, the "season of advent," God's arrival in the form of baby Jesus.

On a plane this week, I read new historical research about the Star of Bethlehem that guided wise men to the Christ child. In my mind, this "star" has always been a comet or a supernova in a far off galaxy. Some now believe the star was something much more subtle. One researcher makes the case that the star was the planet Jupiter, partially occluded by the moon while in the Aries constellation. Jupiter as the morning star would have been very significant to astrologers of the day -- it would have signaled (albeit subtly) the arrival of royalty.

The magazine article concluded, "Theory suggests wise men saw something big in something little."

I can't evaluate the research, but I like the idea that God often enters our life, not with a supernova, but with a subtle light. The little things can point us to the most eternally important of things.

Don't you see this in relationships with our students? God often uses our small words and small deeds to accomplish big things in their lives.

I hope your stockings are hanging, and you are preparing again to celebrate the arrival of Jesus this Christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Maker's Lab for LETU Students & Community

One of the new additions on campus that not everyone might be aware of is the new Maker Lab in the newly renovated Mechanical Engineering Lab. It is in the building next door to the Glaske Center (former location of the Student Life offices).

That 7,000-square-foot building was gutted over the summer and renovated.  It is the new, and much larger, home for the university's wind tunnel. 

The new ME lab building is also the home of our brand new Maker Lab, where our first-year engineering students have room to begin building their 3D printers that they will use throughout their college classes.

But the new Maker Lab is not only benefiting our engineering students.  Engineering professor Dr. Jesse French and his students are reaching out to the community using this new lab space, as well, and making an impact on young lives. 

Jesse and his students recently held a "Maker Lab for Kids" where LETU seniors use their vocational skills and their big hearts to interact with kids from the community who might otherwise never get this opportunity.  Jesse said one of the girls held up a hammer and told him she had always seen them, but never thought she'd get to use one.

These couple of hours and effort can have a great impact on the lives of these children, and could ignite an interest in engineering or technology that they might not have otherwise considered.

This kind of innovative outreach shows our community that we care and gives us the opportunity to share Christ's loves to others.