Thursday, April 20, 2017

Recognizing Faculty of Excellent Service & Innovative Research

At Tuesday's TFO meeting, LETU Provost Steve Mason awarded $12,000 in faculty research grants to selected faculty members to continue the wonderful work they are doing to advance their academic disciplines. 

The Grant Application Review Panel, chaired by Dr. Duane Trogdon, carefully reviewed each application to determine the eligibility of the applicants and proposed activities. Assisting with the presentations was TFO President-elect Dr. Wayne Jacobs. The following were awarded:

David Dittenber, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
$4,500 - Modular Light Gauge Steel Wall Panels for Disaster Shelters
The SafeHome senior design team has begun developing a promising and innovative wall panel system for use in disaster relief shelters.  This modular wall panel is manufactured from light-gauge steel tracks, studs and sheets of various sheathing materials.  Constructing and adapting two load frames will allow for testing of these modular panels, opening new avenues for continuing research and development.  The goal is to design housing that can ease human suffering for people who are displaced from their homes, such as in the Syrian refugee crisis or following weather disasters.  Funding was awarded to Dr. Dittenber and the design team for equipment and materials to conduct the proposed research.

Kotaro Sasaki, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
$4,000 - Transfemoral Amputee Knee Stabilizer
The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a mechanical assistive device to stabilize prosthetic knee joints for transfemoral amputees (also called "above-knee" amputees), and help increase their mobility and safety. Dr. Sasaki's specific goals of this project include: 1) to design and refine a prosthetic-knee stabilizing device that is affordable and simple enough to be used in under-resourced settings; 2) to validate the efficacy of the device by comparing physiological and biomechanical data obtained from "simulated transfemoral amputee)" with and without using the device.

Robert Wharton, Professor of Business Administration, with co-Principle Investigators: 
Karen Jacobs, Associate Professor Business Administration
Doug Waldo, Associate Professor Business Administration (not pictured)
$1,800 - Study of Emotional Intelligence in College Students
Studies have indicated a relationship between linking Emotional Intelligence to human performance, personal health, and resilience. Emotional knowledge, skills, and intelligence hold a major key to improving education and helping students, teachers, faculty, and student development professionals attain higher degrees of achievement, career success, leadership, and personal well-being. The grant awarded to Dr. Wharton's team would provide for the dissemination of the instrument to all incoming freshmen in fall 2017 and the accompanying research.

Jodie Hilburn, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education
$1,100 - Across the Pacific - Educational and Cultural Perspectives
The grant awarded to Jodie Hilburn will allow her to accept the invitation extended by Hannam University to travel to Daejeon, S. Korea during the summer of 2017. She will explore the Korean Summer Studies Program (KSSP), develop corresponding/supplemental curriculum for LeTourneau based on the KSSP, and provide a faculty member chaperone to accompany the LeTourneau students participating in the KSSP.

Vicki Sheafer, Professor of Psychology
$600 - Faith Integration and Metacognition
The focus of Dr. Sheafer's project is to develop an assignment that accomplishes three goals:  (1) the integration of faith and learning, (2) the development of metacognitive skills, and (3) the improvement of student learning outcomes as reflected by exam scores. The assignment is called "Question, Quotation and Reflection" (QQR) and is completed for daily assigned readings.

Congratulations to all these fine grant winners! We will look forward to hearing about your research next year at the LETU Research Symposium.

Also, at Tuesday's TFO meeting, Steve awarded the Teaching Faculty Organization Excellence in Teaching Award to theology associate professor Luke Tallon. This award recognizes outstanding teaching from faculty members who have contributed to students, to scholarship and to this campus in ways that advance performance in the classroom and the student experience.

Previous Excellence in Teaching winners for 2016-2017 include applied aviation sciences instructor Ricky Hellings, civil engineering associate professor David Dittenber, associate professor in computer science Ken Rouse, math professor Larry Anderson and engineering instructor Joel Koblich.   

Our faculty are the primary reason our university excels in preparing students for the future as they pursue God's calling on their lives to serve him in every workplace in every nation. We are indeed blessed that our faculty continue to serve Him so eloquently here at LeTourneau University.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Happy Easter, LeTourneau Nation!

The cry of a hurting world seems amplified this week. In every season of the year, hopelessness can be found in every workplace in every nation.

But at Easter, when the remedy to hopelessness is celebrated and new life is all around us, the need for a Savior is even more a burden on my heart.

So, I turn again to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity:
"Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world.  There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise...something has evaded us...If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." 
Yes, indeed. We were created for another world and the Lamb of God was sacrificed to restore us with our Creator.

Let's allow God this Easter to again break our hearts for workplaces filled with the unfulfilled. And let's commit ourselves anew to the transforming work of Christian higher education at LETU.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Sharon A. Myers Premedical Studies Endowed Scholarship Fund

Friday during Homecoming, we celebrated one of our newly fully funded endowed scholarships and recognized a special family with a new plaque on the wall in the lobby S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center.

The Sharon A. Myers Premedical Studies Endowed Scholarship Fund was established in 2014 and now has been fully funded and will begin providing scholarship assistance for all the years to come to LETU students studying in the biological sciences.

The scholarship was set up by Dr. Michael and Lisa Myers and is in honor of Michael's mother, Sharon A. Myers, who instilled in her children a love for God and an appreciation for His creation. Sharon studied piano and violin performance in college, but medicine was her first love. She ensured that her children had opportunities to grow in character, intellect and in their relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ. 

Michael began attending LeTourneau in 1986, majoring in engineering, but a diagnosis of lymphoma during his sophomore year derailed his educational plans, and he withdrew from college.   

By God's grace and mercy, and after much prayer and medical intervention, Michael's cancer went into remission and he was ultimately cured. That experience led him to pursue a calling in the field of medicine.

He returned to college, switched his major to biology, then was accepted into medical school in San Antonio, where he met and married his wife, Lisa. Michael earned his medical degree in 1999 and today is a staff psychiatrist at the health center at Baylor University.     

Both Michael and Lisa profoundly believe in the mission of LeTourneau University and support the role of Christian higher education today. Michael has served as an LETU trustee and served on the Alumni Advisory Council and in LeTourneau University's Alumni-in-Action activities. 

The Myers family knows the value of supporting premedical students as they prepare to be God's hands and feet in the field of medicine. At LETU, we have two students in the Joint Admission Medical Program and one biology student who, at age 17, just recently won 2nd place for his human genome research. LETU students like these seek to integrate their faith and work as they pursue careers in the medical field and live out a holy calling with eternal impact.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Welcome Back, YellowJacket Alumni!

It's that time again! This weekend, LeTourneau University will welcome hundreds to campus in celebration of our Homecoming & Family Weekend. Jamie DeYoung and her staff have planned another great event, and all of our alumni, students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.

This year, we are celebrating LeTourneau University's 60th anniversary of aviation education, and we also will honor the Class of 1967 into our Golden Jackets, who are graduates of 50+ years. Our chapel speaker Friday will be 1983 aviation alumnus Dave Fyock, an executive vice president at Mission Aviation Fellowship. He will be speaking about missions aviation.  

The Hootenanny Tailgate & Patio Party will feature live music, inflatables, and other games and activities from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday on the Allen Family Student Center patio.

Over 500 tickets have already been sold for the 52nd annual Hootenanny variety show. "iHoot" will begin at 7 p.m. Friday in the Belcher Center.  Tickets cost $5 and will be on sale at the door if you haven't already gotten yours. It should be a fun and memorable show. Look for my cinematic debut.  

The weather Saturday is forecast to be sunny: a great day for bringing your families to campus for the Inter-Society Rope Pull at 10:30 a.m. 

Those who already have purchased tickets can enjoy the Picnic at the Pond from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Others can bring their own picnic lunches. 

One of my favorite events is the annual Cardboard and Duct Tape Boat Races which will be from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the pond. This is where we are reminded that LETU is a community of builders.

LETU YellowJackets baseball will take on the University of Dallas at 1 p.m. at the baseball field.

The Alumni vs. varsity soccer game will begin at 2 p.m. on the soccer field at the Joyce Family Athletic Village. 

If you are interested in aviation, you won't want to miss R.G. LeTourneau historian Dale Hardy when he gives his presentation about R.G. and his airplanes at 3 p.m. in the Berry Auditorium in the Glaske Center. 

A materials joining demonstration will showcase our students' work in a creative exhibition at 4 p.m. in the Kielhorn Welding Lab.

Happy 60th to LeTourneau Aviation and welcome back all alumni and family!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Front-Page Props: JAMP & World Map Project

Twice in this week alone, LeTourneau University has been featured on the front page of the Longview News-Journal for some of the great things our students are doing.

On Monday, two of our students were featured for their acceptance in the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP). This program provides joint admission into medical school for these students while they are still undergraduates at LETU.

The students, sophomore biology major Seth Mattson and junior biology major Keren Engulu, have internship opportunities during their summer months at two of nine medical schools in Texas, an opportunity that will give them a definite advantage as they identify which medical school to choose once they complete their undergraduate degrees at LETU.

Seth was recently accepted into the program this year and will do his first internship this summer. Keren was admitted to JAMP last year and will complete her second summer internship this summer.

The competition for the JAMP program is considerable. Only 100 of about 600 applicants from across the state are selected.  Only the brightest students across the state qualify for this kind of opportunity. Dr. Greg Frederick is our JAMP faculty advisor, and since his arrival a few years ago, we have had 100% acceptance rate into this program. That is a claim few other schools can make. 
Dr. Frederick also reports that 100% of our traditional biology graduates who have applied for admission into medical school in the last two years have been accepted. That is another claim few other schools can make. Kudos to Dr. Frederick and these fine students.

On Wednesday, our international students were featured painting a 30-foot playground mural of a world map, alongside 4th through 7th grade students from Trinity Schools of Texas here in Longview.

The painting project provided cultural connections with the students and follows several classroom visits during which time our international shared about their homelands, their heritage and their cultures. 

The effort was designed to expand the worldview of many of the elementary and middle school students, so that when they see a world map or hear of news from other countries, they will remember that they may have met someone from there.

Rebecca Haesecke, our director of international engagement and development, organized the event that featured 16 international students participating. Kudos to her for leading this initiative. This was the third time that she has led LETU international students to participate in this world map painting project with school children. The first was at South Ward elementary school in 2013. The second was at the Boys & Girls Club parking lot. 

These kinds of cultural experiences, both for our international students and for the local school children, provide unimagined benefits for the future.

Speaking with LNJ reporter Meredith Shamburger, left, are from left, Dr. Greg Frederick, biology junior Keren Ungulu and biology sophomore Seth Mattson.

LETU international students and Trinity School of Texas students partnered on a cultural exchange that resulted in a 30-foot world map on the TST playground.