Thursday, October 19, 2017

New Partnerships Around the Globe

LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford is joined by members of the LETU Office of Global Initiatives, standing from left, Alan Clipperton, Suma Jayakar, Rebecca Haesecke and Tracy Ketrow. 

This week, I was delighted to sign documents to formalize new partnerships with two women's colleges in India: Stella Maris College and Women's Christian College. Both colleges identify as Christian and are located in Chennai, which is home to about five million people in the state of Tamilnadu.

LETU International Recruitment Specialist Suma Jayakar in our Office of Global Initiatives recently traveled to her homeland of India where she spoke with leaders at these two colleges about the benefits of partnership with LETU. Her efforts, under the direction of our Assistant Vice President for Global Initiatives Alan Clipperton, have resulted in these new partnerships.

The partnerships will provide opportunities for student and faculty exchanges, as well as an opportunity for students from these colleges to participate in LETU's short-term language and cultural programs. 

I hope that we can recruit many more Indian students to LETU. We have more than 70 families from India living in the Longview area. Many of our local families from South Asia have expressed desire to interact and provide support for these international students while they study at LeTourneau University.  

These relationships offer us a unique opportunity to recruit and support more students from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. We currently have a number of students from this area of the globe, and we look forward to seeing more of them choose to study at LETU.

Women's Christian College was founded as a joint venture of 12 missionary societies from the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S.A. "to provide a complete, meaningful and relevant education to women so that they are intellectually well-trained, morally upright, socially aware and spiritually inspired." 

WCC is ranked 10th in India among the best colleges in the Arts and Science category by the Ministry for Human Resource Development. The school offers a wide range of metacognitive and need-based programs at the undergraduate, postgraduate and research levels to women from national and regional communities and varied socio-economic backgrounds.

Stella Maris College was founded as an autonomous merit-based women's institution affiliated with the University of Madras. Stella Maris College prides itself on over than 60 years of service to the cause of higher education of women and social development. It is committed to serving economically and socially marginalized sections of Indian society and provides university education in a Christian atmosphere. Their vision is to build a vibrant and inclusive learning community in a culture of excellence sustained by a sound value system that promotes responsible citizenship and effects social change. 

Suma says WCC had already heard of LeTourneau University, since one of their board members came from another university with a strong aeronautical science program. They knew about our standard of academic excellence in all areas, our conservative campus and our style of experiential learning. She said WCC had 100 students sign up for just five available spots in our exchange program for next semester, once WCC emailed its student population about our new partnership!

Stella Maris College has already invited one of our computer science faculty to be a keynote speaker in their computer science symposium in February.

I'm reminded weekly that an LETU education is of value around the world. What a joy to be part of what our God is doing around the globe.   

In India is Suma Jayakar with Dr. Sr. Jasintha Quadras of Stella Maris College.

In India with Suma Jayakar (center) is Dr. Lilian I Jasper, left, and Paul P. Appasamy, right, both of Women's Christian College.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Join Me in Lifting Up LeTourneau UPD

The death of a campus police officer at Texas Tech Monday made it truly a sad day for all Texas universities. See story here.

It is the kind of tragedy that could happen anywhere, and one that should make us all grateful for our own LeTourneau University Police Department (UPD). 

Over the past few years, we have moved from a campus security department to a fully staffed LeTourneau University Police Department with an armed, state-licensed peace officer on duty 24/7/365, even on holidays and breaks.

Our two full-time and seven part-time peace officers are assisted by a host of student guards who support them as additional eyes and ears on campus and who are trained to assist in patrolling campus and fulfilling other duties like locking and unlocking buildings, issuing warnings and citations.

All of our officers and guards take pride in providing safety to our campus community, and all are under the leadership of Chief of Police Michael Schultz.

The Longview Centurion Club earlier this year honored two members of our LETU police department at their 26th annual Giants of Law Enforcement Banquet. Cliff Ingersoll was named LeTourneau University Police Department Officer of the Year and student guard Olivia Stine was named the LeTourneau University Police Department Civilian of the Year.

Cliff, a full-time officer, serves as executive officer for the department and Olivia serves as customer service representative and lead student guard and trainer. Both display the highest levels of service, professionalism, and integrity to our campus community and this department.

Chief Schultz led chapel recently and talked to students about personal safety, putting out a call for students who may be interested in replacing several of the guards who will soon be graduating.

The Texas Tech tragedy challenged me to pray for our campus police. While LETU is blessed with a safe campus, we ask our LETU police to be ready for any emergency. I want to encourage us all to be praying constantly for our officers and guards, and to thank them for their service.

Our officers are: Chief Michael Schultz, Cliff Ingersoll, Kevin Blakeley, Danny Brasher, Delora Coles, Missidime Davis, Greg Mandreger, Steve Newton, and Juan Roberson. Our guards are Karl Almquist, Samuel Bean, Dillon Hartsfield, Keni Legesse, Brad Martin, Olivia Stine and Paul Stine. Will you lift them up in prayer today?

PIctured, from left, standing beside the LETU's newest police cruiser are LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford, executive officer Cliff Ingersoll and LETU Police Chief Michael Schultz.


Friday, October 6, 2017

"If there is anything praiseworthy..."

The tragic news from Las Vegas reached me in Pennsylvania where I was enjoying an opportunity to reconnect with our many LETU friends--and making some new friends for the university.

I have observed two very different reactions to the tragedy. Some react with anger and disgust, lamenting the evil in this world. Others reacted with thanksgiving, amazed at the heroes that emerged from the shooting. Of course, both reactions are legitimate and understandable.

The ancient wisdom of our faith leads us to a helpful response in Philippians 4:8, which reads, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things."

Friends saved the lives of friends. Strangers put themselves in danger to carry the wounded to care. First responders rushed in with courage. Indeed, much noble behavior was witnessed in Las Vegas.

When we focus on the good, our gaze is lifted upward. We find assurance that God is present, His unfailing love blessing us even in tragedy.

And God blessed us with another impressive Career Fair today. Recruiters from over 70 exhibitors came to the Solheim Center to talk to students about co-op and internship opportunities while they are still in college and employment opportunities after graduation. 

The Career Fair gives our students a great opportunity to meet professionals working in their field of study, to ask questions, and to connect with alumni who are recruiting for their companies.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Honored by Treasure, Talents and Time

Marsha and I are traveling this weekend to Pennsylvania to meet with the many friends and alumni of LETU in the keystone state. Also on the trip are staff from the alumni office, the development office and our residential admissions team. When traveling meeting LETU friends, I'm reminded often that we stand on the shoulders of so many who have given their treasure, talents and time to build our fine university.

Douglas Orre is just one example. Mr. Orre had no children of his own, and so at his recent death, he left a significant gift to the students of LETU, who he adopted as his own. That estate gift or "planned gift" is making possible the installation of beautiful new bleachers in the Solheim Arena this holiday break. This new seating will bring more LETU blue into the arena and give many of our guests chair-back seating for the first time. It's a very nice addition to our campus.

Planned giving is important. For many, the end of life provides the best opportunity to support the charitable causes one holds dear. Our planned giving efforts were recently recognized when the LETU planned giving website won a major award at the National Practical Planned Giving conference. Nicola Greene attended the conference in San Diego and received the award for Best Gift Legacy Website of the year as a best practice example of how to use a website for gift legacy showcase and donor engagement. The award is especially significant since we were competing against large state schools and large charities such as St. Jude's and The Salvation Army. Our award will be listed on the Crescendo website here for several months. LETU also will be featured in October in an email blast that goes to 17,000 philanthropic entities. Great work, Nicola!

We received another award this week related to Information Technology. LETU has been recognized as a 2017 National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NSCAM) Champion for our efforts to promote cybersecurity and online safety awareness. You can see the entire list here on the organization's Champion's page. Big thanks to Michael Davis in our IT department for his work on submitting LETU for this honor.

This award places us in very good company among businesses and organizations of all sizes who are dedicated to a more secure and trusted internet. NCSAM is coordinated and led by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Great work, Michael and our entire IT team.

The first full month of the 2017-18 academic year is now complete. Please continue to pray for our students and their families as they adjust to life on campus. Pray that God will lead them to find the joy in learning and less stress in meeting the requirements of their academic work.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Every Workplace, Every Nation: Expanding Global Relationships

This week I had the pleasure to welcome visitors from China to our campus. Their interest in LETU reminds us of the global mission of our fine university.

Amy Wang, a professor from Jilin Normal University in China, is here for the Fall 2017 semester teaching linear algebra on the Longview campus in a new exchange program.

Next semester, we are making plans to send LETU mathematics professor Dr. Curtis Wesley to teach at JNU. Building the relationships to enable these kinds of exchange programs is LETU Associate Vice President for the Office of Global Initiatives Alan Clipperton, who first visited JNU in 2016.

Also, we have been pleased to host six faculty from Shanghai Civil Aviation College. They have been here two weeks participating in a workshop on teaching aviation maintenance at LETU's School of Aviation and Aeronautical Science at the Abbott Aviation Center. SCAC delegates have met with LETU aviation maintenance faculty, observed in classrooms and participated in classroom discussions, as well as held conversations with several of our aviation maintenance students-all with the goal of learning how LeTourneau University educates the next generation of aviation maintenance professionals.

In China the aviation industry is booming and the need for skilled, professional workers in every area of aviation is motivating SCAC to consider partnership with LETU. Alan visited SCAC in April 2014 and he has worked closely with Fred Ritchey and Sean Fortier to put together this two-week training program. The SCAC delegation told me how much they admired the effective hands-on education our students receive.

We seek to expand our relationships and develop new partnerships abroad; recruiting more international students to claim workplaces in every nation for Christ.

Dr. Lunsford, Dr. Mason and Alan Clipperton met with the six-member Chinese delegation from SCAC.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Nationally Ranked, Christ-Centered Education

On Tuesday, the 2018 U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of "America's Best Colleges" were announced.

Once again, I'm proud to say, LeTourneau University moved up in the rankings, with this year making 24 years that LETU has ranked in the top tier, classified with other similar institutions that offer no doctoral degrees in a geographic region that spans all the way from Texas to Alaska.

LETU was honored by the following:
  • 23rd in the "Best Regional Universities in the Western Region." (LETU ranked at 27 in 2017 and 32 in 2016.) And, among only Texas schools on the list, we were in the top 10-ranking 6th.
  • 11th among "Great Schools, Great Prices," a listing of schools that provide best value for similar regional universities in the West.
  • 15th among "Best Colleges for Veterans."
  • 29th among "America's Best Engineering Schools," in a category of over 200 ABET-accredited engineering schools nationally whose highest degree is a bachelor's or master's degree. Among Texas schools, LETU was at the top.
We also were listed alphabetically among "A-plus Schools for B-students," which is a list of schools that provide great opportunity for students to thrive with hard work and spirit, even if those students' test scores and class standings were not A's.

To rank so well in all of these areas speaks to the quality of our faculty and staff.

These rankings are released each fall and, while no rankings are unflawed, these are considered the most notable of the annual published college rankings.

But there is other good news.

Our LETU Fall 2017 enrollment total is 3,003, up 10% over last year's enrollment of 2,721 and showing significant increases in our aviation, nursing and high school dual credit programs. Enrollment numbers are official after the 12th class day.

We can be proud that we are making a nationally ranked, Christ-centered education affordable for families, a record number of whom are from right here in East Texas.

As more high school students choose to earn college credits before they finish high school, they enroll at universities with credits that save them time and money toward their degree. And many of the dual credit students who study at LETU, choose to come here after they finish high school.

And while we are attracting more local and Texas students, we are still increasingly a global university with 90 international students from more than 30 countries-showcased by the parade of flags carried by our international students at our opening convocation.

For all of these points, LETU is blessed, indeed. And as if all of these blessings weren't enough to make the week special, Wednesday I was invited by my 6-year-old granddaughter Linley to sit beside her at a special grandparent's lunch at her school. I am blessed to be her "Poppy."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Meet the Rothfus': New Missionaries-in-Residence

New Missionaries in Residence Ed and Debbie Rothfus with Dr. Lunsford in Ed's office in the Belcher Center, where Ed has on display some of the pottery pieces he has created, including the piece seen hanging on the wall behind them. 
LeTourneau University's new Missionary-In-Residence Ed Rothfus has been collecting specific prayer requests in the wake of Hurricane Harvey from our students, faculty and staff and is providing community prayer opportunities. Many families within our LETU Nation have been affected and will continue to be affected for the foreseeable future.

Ed and his wife, Debbie, have served in overseas missions for 16 years. They have recently come to LETU from Kijabe, Kenya, East Africa, where Ed has taught high school art and pottery at the Rift Valley Academy, a Christian boarding school. Debbie is the school librarian.

The Rothfus' are originally from Cuba, New York, south of Buffalo, where Ed taught art for 11 years in public school. Their calling into missions was to "stand in the gap" for the children of other missionaries. Founded by African Inland Mission in 1906, Rift Valley Academy's purpose is to meet the educational needs of missionaries' children. More than 500 students from over 20 countries and 70 mission organizations attend RVA. A friend of Ed's reminded him that "God needs good art teachers at Rift Valley Academy, too."

Besides providing spiritual insights and interaction with missionary and "third culture kids" at LETU, Ed is also teaching an honors seminar on Art and Imagination to about 25 LETU students this semester.

Ed and Debbie have not served at LETU as Missionaries in Residence before, but they are not new to LETU.

Two of their three children have attended LETU. Their older son graduated from LETU in 2014 with a computer science engineering and network services degree and their twin daughter is currently enrolled, scheduled to graduate in December with her degree in kinesiology K-12. The Rothfus' other twin, a son, graduated in May from John Brown University in Arkansas with a degree in construction management.

Ed's office is in the Belcher Center. Be sure to give Ed and Debbie a warm LETU welcome. We are blessed to have them here.