Thursday, December 22, 2011

Graduates of Global Influence


I just returned from Houston where more than 50 graduates received their diplomas Saturday in a ceremony held at Sagemont Church on the southern edge of Houston.

Our Provost, Dr. Philip Coyle, gave a thoughtful reminder of God's love in his address as our commencement speaker. Carol Green and the GAPS team did their usual outstanding work to stage the celebration. The joy of achievement for these graduates and their families was evident in the smiles and hugs. At these events, like the one in Houston and the one the week prior in Longview, I enjoy getting to meet and hear from some of our graduates.  

One especially reminded me that LeTourneau University is a global university. Kristi Sparkman is a missionary in the Middle East where she has served the Bedouin people for the past three years. She completed her LETU course work online from across the globe, where sometimes the Internet was a little spotty, where power outages were common and there were threats of war that required her to leave her village. But despite the many difficulties, she persevered and was able to get her assignments in on time amid the chaos.

She said God had placed the need for more education on her heart. She said she was able to use the information she was learning from her classes at LETU to help the Bedouin people. Now she gives God the credit for her Bachelor of Business Management degree with a leadership minor. Her return from overseas for her graduation ceremony in Longview impressed me again of the importance of our graduates serving in every workplace in every nation. You can see a short video interview with her here.  

Our strategic goal is to be a university of global influence and Kristi reminds us we are becoming just that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Celebrating the Season


Last week's university wide Christmas party was a great time to get together as a university family. Many of you witnessed my "musical debut" on the cell phone jingle bells app, (pictured at left) along with the rest of the band, from left, featuring webmaster Mark Roedel on bass, Chaplain Dr. Harold Carl and Dr. Karl Payton on guitars, adjunct professors Wray Boyd on harmonica and Ruth Hathaway on fiddle.

At the party, Dr. Bill Graff and I compared our festive Christmas ties (at right). Many of you know he is renowned for his extensive collection of ties. It was a pleasure to take some time Friday to celebrate together.

As I have mentioned before, I often read the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture. In one of his columns this week, Jim Denison reflected on Mary, the mother of Jesus, when he wrote:

The Jewish people taught their daughters to pray every night that they might be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. Everyone assumed, however, that this great honor would be bestowed on a daughter of the high priest or someone else of great status. Meanwhile, a peasant teenage girl was living in a town so tiny it's not mentioned even once in the Old Testament.The angel Gabriel announced to her great shock that she would be the mother of "the Son of the Most High" (Luke 1:32).

Mary would risk her marriage and even her life if she accepted this calling. Nonetheless, she chose to say, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said" (v. 38). She would later testify, "From now on all generations will call me blessed" (v. 48). And she was right.

The story of Mary's courage and faith inspires me as we take time to focus on the birth of our Messiah during this time of year. While today we recognize that Christmas means making memories and spending precious time with family and friends, it also is a time to remember that God can do eternal things with people who are committed and submitted to Him.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Teaching to Learn

As the fall term rushes to completion, I'm looking ahead to Spring 2012. I've asked our university leaders to teach next semester and I'm leading Marketing Research, a required course for marketing majors in the School of Business.

In most of my 25 years in higher education, I've taught both undergraduate and graduate courses including the teaching of Marketing Research many times. However, this will be my first time to teach marketing at LeTourneau and so I am excited. It will be a new venue to interact with our students and I'm sure it will be beneficial for all those who serve on the President's Cabinet.

In thinking about how this course would be different at LETU than at other universities where I've taught, I came upon a lecture given recently at Baylor University by University of Virginia economics professor Kenneth Elzinga. In considering the differences between Christian and secular higher education, he said,

"I would expect Christian higher education to be characterized by professors who mentor students; not just teach them chemistry and accounting, not just teach them biology and Spanish, but model out for them how to walk with Jesus. Not because these faculty members have mastered how to do this, but simply because they've been pilgrims longer, because they have more experience with the consequences of sin and redemption."

Well said! This is a real distinctive of LETU: a faculty who take an active role in mentoring their students. Disciple-making happens simultaneously with higher learning. In fact, the lessons on following Christ may linger long after the learning objectives of the syllabus have been forgotten. It's an important reminder for me: answering Christ's Great Commission to make disciples should be my most important objective in teaching next semester.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Founder's Day



This week we commemorated the 123rd anniversary of the birth of our founder, Mr. R.G. LeTourneau. It was a treat to hear longtime LETU instructor Roger Carr speak in chapel about the legacy of "Mom and Pop" LeTourneau. Roger mentioned in chapel that one of those legacies is Mr. LeTourneau's 299 patents, second only to Thomas Edison. To mark this anniversary, I would like to share these words written by R.G. LeTourneau in 1968:

"I've always said when people ask me about the inventions I've come up with, that anything I've been able to do I credit to God who gave me my mind. Man's mind is marvelous in its accomplishments, but the human mind falls way short when we try to imagine or understand the goodness of God, His love for us, or His plans for our future. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.' Man can't comprehend such wonders with his natural mind - can't imagine it - but the next verse says, 'But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.' So if you want to enter into the wonders of God, don't try to do it with man's natural mind, but accept God's Son as your Savior and let the Holy Spirit show you the wonders of a life in God, both for now and for eternity."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Give Thanks

Give thanks with a grateful heart.

Give thanks to the Holy One.

Give thanks because He's given

Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now let the weak say I am strong.
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us.

Give thanks.


Those words penned by Christian singer/songwriter Don Moen always come to my mind during this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season as I reflect on the many reasons I have to give thanks and be grateful. As Christians, we are called to be a grateful people, and we have much for which we should daily give thanks.

A story on gratitude I found this past week in Christianity Today caught my eye. It was titled "The Blessings of Gratitude: Why Jesus commands us to be thankful." The writer Stan Guthrie reports that with unemployment numbers high, he would have expected people who had jobs would be grateful for their jobs at Thanksgiving. But he notes that a Gallup poll indicated that 75 percent of the workforce was, as he put it, "phoning it in" and 55 percent were emotionally detached or "disengaged" from their work. How sad.

Here at LETU we teach that our work is a holy calling with eternal impact. I believe that. Our goal is to equip ourselves and our students to close the gap between Sundays and Mondays, and to follow Christ and reflect him in our workplaces whether we are typing letters, answering phones, teaching students, raking leaves, or doing any multitude of daily activities. Our work matters to God.

Bill Peel, our executive director for LETU's new Center for Faith and Work, and his wife, Kathy, recently joined us in Longview where Bill spoke to our President's Advisory Council about the initiatives of this new center. If you haven't taken the time to look at the new website for the CFW, I invite you to see it here now.

During Bill's presentation he shared a fun and creative video about Work as Worship that reminds us that when we do our jobs with integrity, excellence and diligence, using the skills that God has given us, then our work is an act of worship. I hope you enjoy it. You can see it here.

On another note, a task force chaired by the Provost's office recently began meeting to discuss LETU's Emergency Response (including notification) and Evacuation Procedures on campus in the event of any crisis. Representatives of the Abbott Center and GAPS are included to address their special concerns. If you have a specific concern you would like addressed, I invite you to share it at letournews@letu.edu.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Impacting Our Local Community

LeTourneau University's participation in the Greater Longview United Way (GLUW) campaign was acknowledged recently by Donna Mahurin, the executive director of the Greater Longview United Way.

She sent her congratulations for our university's participation in this year's United Way campaign, saying:

"What an outstanding United Way campaign you guys had! Thank you so much for your efforts. Your campaign increased by 46% from $5,368 last year to $7,835 this year. Please let the staff and faculty know how much I appreciate their gifts. . . . Again, thanks so much for the excellent participation."

The United Way benefits nonprofits that improve the lives of people right here in Gregg County. One of the agencies that the United Way donations fund is the Boys & Girls Club of Gregg County, a private, nonprofit agency dedicated to youth development for children ages 6 through 18. Most of the youth live in single-parent homes in low-income neighborhoods.

By providing these children with a sense of belonging, understanding, influence and competence, the Boys & Girls Club of Gregg County inspires and enables them to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

The LETU volleyball team has been volunteering there each week since mid-September. About 10 student-athletes tutor the children on their homework and listen to them read. Our students provide one-to-one or small group interaction that many of the children don't get at home.

There are about 150 children at the Boys & Girls Club of Gregg County on any given day in need of tutoring and mentoring. Our students have said they love working with them, seeing it as an exciting opportunity to serve others. Some of the students go more often than the weekly schedule so they can spend extra time with the children.

Our student-athletes are not the only ones helping at the Boys & Girls Club. Other students from around campus also are volunteering, and our Director of Student Support Services Carlton Mitchell has begun a "Passport to Manhood" series with about a dozen 11- to 14-year-old boys on Thursday nights.

Our students, faculty and staff are investing in the lives of these children, helping them to learn, develop character and leadership, and to build relationships. In the process, they are receiving a blessing in return.

Even as I celebrate our participation in making Longview a better community, my heart is broken for our own university community and the losses we are mourning. We have all been in prayer with Wayne and Karen Jacobs and with Yoni Adonyi and his daughter. It is in these difficult moments that God's love is most evident at LeTourneau University.

Ann Marie Adonyi's funeral is at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 11) at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 909 Reel Road in Longview. The burial is at White's Cemetery. No visitation is planned. Engineering Dean Dr. Ron DeLap has authorized the cancellation of classes tomorrow afternoon for those engineering faculty members who wish to attend.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Protect Loan Funding for Texas Students

In next week's state election, your vote can help Texas students fund their college education.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Texas voters will be asked to vote on 10 proposed changes to the Texas Constitution. One of those amendments is Proposition 3 that I told you about a few weeks ago.

Voting YES on Prop 3 will authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to generate funding for the Hinson-Hazelwood Loan Program.

This program has given Texas families the option of affordable, fixed-rate student loans for more than 45 years.

The loan program is completely self-supporting and this proposition will cost taxpayers nothing. The debt is not paid with any state resources but by the student borrowers.

Voters have approved a total of $1.86 billion in bonds in seven separate election cycles dating back from 1965 to 2007. In 2007, $500 million in bonds was authorized, of which over half is still unused. In the history of the program, it has never had to use general revenue from the state to pay out the bonds.

This year, Prop 3 provides "evergreen authority" that would allow the student loan program to continue to issue bonds from now on, as long as the amount of outstanding loans doesn't exceed the $1.86 billion that Texas voters have already approved. This "evergreen authority" would save the cost of taxpayer-funded constitutional elections like this one from asking for permission to fund the bonds.

The Hinson-Hazelwood Student Loan Program will provide nearly $69 million in loans to Texans this year. LeTourneau students will receive $463,000 of this assistance. With a 5.25 fixed interest rate, these loans are a good deal for families.

This program is one important tool to families building a plan to pay for tuition. Student loans are one of the primary ways people pay for higher education despite budget cuts that have reduced education spending.

Since the Texas Constitution prohibits the state from taking on debt without an amendment to the constitution, voters must approve a state constitutional amendment to allow additional bond authorization to allow the Hinson-Hazelwood College Student Loan Program to continue to offer low-cost loans to students.

I hope you will make a note on your calendar to vote in favor of Prop 3 on Tuesday. We understand better than most the struggle of challenge of our students to pay for college at a time when federal and state grants are in the decline.

Let's protect this loan program for our students! Thanks for your consideration.

This week, I will be busy meeting with our LETU Board of Trustees who are in town for the board's semi-annual meeting. A ribbon cutting Thursday on the new South Hall and an Open House in our newly renovated Kielhorn Welding and Materials Joining Lab Friday are part of this week's activities.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Welcome Our Trustees

The end of October and beginning of November are some of the busiest weeks for me and the president's office as preparations are under way for the semi-annual meeting of our Board of Trustees, who will be here Wednesday through Friday of next week.

Of course, many of you are also involved with preparing for the Trustees. Whether you've constructed a graph for the board report, planted beautiful fall flowers on campus or are planning to open your class for a visiting Trustee, please accept my thanks.

For those who are new to the LETU Nation, our board consists of 26 voting members, besides me. These are men and women who want to serve the God they love and who believe in our mission as a Christ-centered university to graduate competent professionals who will be ambassadors for Christ in their workplaces.

During their visit next week, board members will have their first opportunity to tour the new South Hall when we have a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and they will be on hand for the dedication and Open House for the newly completed renovations to the Kielhorn Materials Joining/Welding Engineering lab.

We have a few new trustees coming on board. Wednesday will include a new orientation for them. Robin Guyer from Illinois and Jim Brake from Connecticut are attending their first board meeting.

I will be traveling over this coming weekend to talk about the good things happening here. When I get back, Marsha and I will host about 30 Student Senators and Student Government officers in our home Sunday evening. We are starting the Thanksgiving season early with a dinner of turkey and dressing for the students!

Our students are seeking candy donations this week for the Trick or Treat on College Street outreach Monday, Oct. 31. This annual event gives our students opportunity to provide neighborhood children a safe alternative to Halloween activities, and gives students an opportunity to provide free Bibles in both English and in Spanish to many of our local neighbors.

Tuesday night is opening night of STOMP! I will host a dinner for a number of special guests on opening night. Cynthia Hellen most always arranges for our guests to meet the performers prior to the show.

Thanks again for your warm welcome to our Trustees, our Belcher audiences and all the guests God brings to our campus.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Egg Salad Sandwich Conversations

Each day I start with an email devotional thought from Dr. Jim Denison, the founder of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture and the former pastor of the Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas.

Denison recently wrote a column about what he remembers as the "egg salad sandwich from God." In it, he recalled being an insecure freshman at Houston Baptist University with a sense of God's calling on his life but no tangible idea of where his life was going. In the middle of eating an egg salad sandwich at lunch, one of the HBU professors sat down next to him. An informal conversation became a lifelong relationship. Denison now refers to that late professor, Dr. A.O. Collins, as his "spiritual father."

God has placed you at LETU so that you might become someone's spiritual father or mother. It has happened here on this campus for years, and I needed this reminder that divine appointments continue today.

Our insightful new Provost, Dr. Coyle, is leading a new conversation on how we can be more intentional about improving the success of our students. Too many LETU freshmen don't return for their sophomore year. Too many sophomores don't return for their junior year. Too many of our students never complete their degree programs.

No one, single reason exists why students don't succeed at LETU, but our hearts should be broken for each one who arrives full of future dreams, yet leaves without success. I'm committing myself to take time for more "egg salad sandwich conversations." I invite you to do so as well.

Denison wisely observes, "You cannot know the future significance of present faithfulness."

Thank you for your faithful investment in the success of our students at LETU.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Living at the Crossroads of the Faithful & the Professional

Thursday night I'm in Pennsylvania for our annual LeTourneau University banquet at Willow Valley. Our university has a rich heritage of support from Pennsylvania. A notable example is the John and Florence Thomas family.

John and Florence Thomas shared 61 years together, working side by side to start a mission church, teach Sunday school and develop their family business, one that started with selling vegetables and feeding helpers with a spirit of hospitality in 1943.

In 1966, they opened a motel and added a restaurant that grew into an enterprise known as Willow Valley which expanded to include hotels, restaurants, a golf course, homes and apartments, retirement communities and a premier resort and conference center. They believed in LeTourneau University and were long-time donors, with John serving on the LeTourneau Board of Trustees. Florence died in 2002, John in 2006. Thomas Hall on our LETU campus was named in their honor when it opened in November 2002.

The Thomas story is one of living out one's Christian faith in one's professional life. The food and hospitality industry is a great place to demonstrate God's love for employees, guests and customers.

And while I know "Breakfast with Fred" was last week, I feel I must share some of the great comments I received from some of our guests. Let their words remind us again that God has created a special place here at LETU and from here we can bless so many others.

J.L. Jackson (retired president of Diamond Shamrock) said: "What impressed me most about the university was the open Christian atmosphere and the level of Christian commitment, not only of the faculty and staff, but of the students too."

Dr. JoyLynn Hailey Reed (UT-Dallas Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching) said: "It was such a blessing to be on your campus - everyone made us feel so at home! I have been on so many university campuses but LETU was the most special of all. God is certainly present and at work in a huge way."

Brenda Smith (CEO, BWF Project) said: "I don't believe we have ever been on a campus that was so clearly and distinctly Christo-centric. What a blessing."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Seeing God's Blessings in Adversity

During our Breakfast With Fred event on campus yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit individually with some of the mentors who came to our campus to share their insights and experience with our students. They were compelled by a calling to give back to our students some of the godly wisdom and benefits they had gained from being mentored by others.

One of the BWF mentors I met was Ron Glosser. After a successful 30-year banking career in Ohio, Glosser moved to Pennsylvania at the age of 56 and began to head up the Hershey Trust. Yes, that is the same Hershey name you've seen on chocolate candy bars.

When Mr. Hershey died, he left his entire fortune to a trust to help underprivileged children. That trust today is estimated at over $7 billion and supports a boarding school for about 1,500 children from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade who come from broken homes, living in poverty. The school changes lives.

Glosser, who is now retired, said he prays every day that God will bring into his path people who need a touch from God and that he can be that encouragement to them. He spoke of every job as being a mission field. His philosophy mirrors that of our own university, to claim every workplace in every nation for Christ.

Glosser shared that every job has challenges. He told of going through a time in the banking industry when he was very discouraged and suffered several sleepless nights. One night he got up and was praying about all the things he was going through when he felt God encouraging him to write down all his blessings. He argued with God, but dutifully began listing them on paper. Three hours passed before he finished the exercise. He then realized that here he had sat, imploring the Sovereign of the universe to eliminate all the mountains he was faced with, then realized that a trade-off could mean giving up that list of blessings.

He said his prayer changed from "God get me out of it," to "God, what do you want me to get out of it?" He began to see God's blessings, even in adversity.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The R.G. Legacy of Faith & Work

From the corner of Mobberly and Green, R.G. LeTourneau traveled the world giving voice to his unique testimony. He began his 1960 autobiography "For 25 years or more, I've been traveling this land of ours and a few foreign countries trying to teach and preach by word of mouth and example, that a Christian businessman owes as much to God as a preacher does."

The LeTourneau University Center for Faith & Work has been created to give a new voice to that same truth: life is not a dilemma of choosing faith or work, but instead the freedom of choosing faith and work. All work can be eternally significant, whether done Sunday or Monday. The workplace is a mission field.

The Center is bringing to campus 18 men and women from a variety of professions for one day next week. Many of you are helping to make "Breakfast with Fred" a special event for our Longview students inside and outside the classroom.

Our guests next week understand the integration of faith and work. They are professionals with experience in business, education, and communication, like retired Ohio banker Ron Glosser who served as president of the $8 billion Hershey Trust and Milton Hershey Foundation; Dr. Don Newbury who has 40 years of experience in higher education, including presidencies at Western Texas College and Howard Payne University; and KCBI radio personality Johanna Fisher, who has served on the boards and is active with several Dallas-area ministries.

Through our new Center for Faith and Work, LETU ensures that Mr. RG's call continues.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vote to Protect Loan Programs for Our Students

Presidents from the many Texas independent universities met in Fort Worth this week. Honestly, we heard gloomy reports on the economy and the State of Texas budget. Still yet, it was encouraging to be with such a bright and dedicated group focused on keeping the dream of a college education accessible to all.

For 40 years, Texas students have been fortunate to have the option of affordable fixed-rate student loans. It is one important tool to families building a plan to pay for tuition. This program, known as the Hinson-Hazelwood Student Loan Program, will provide nearly $69 million in loans to Texans this year. LeTourneau students will receive $463,000 of this assistance. With a 5.25 fixed interest rate, these loans are a good deal for families.

Did you know that this coming November 8 is an election day? I didn't. On the ballot that day will be Proposition 3. Prop 3 will authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds to generate funding for the Hinson-Hazelwood loan program. The loan program is completely self-supporting and this proposition will cost taxpayers nothing. The debt is not paid with any state resources but by the student borrowers.

Few voters turn out for these off-year elections. There is always fear that a small number of misinformed voters will derail a program that is good for students and for Texas. Will you make a note on your calendar to vote on November 8? We understand better than most the struggle of challenge of our students and that's why we need to lead the way in voting.

At a time when federal and state grants for college are declining, let's protect this loan program for our students! Thanks for your consideration.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Becoming a Teacher

It was a privilege to have U.S. Army Lt. Col (Ret.) Steve Russell on campus Monday. If you missed his chapel presentation, I encourage you to view it online. His visit ended several days of commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and I'm thankful to the many of you who worked to create meaningful opportunities to remember what should never be forgotten.

As Lt. Col. Russell was preparing his notes just before chapel Monday, someone announced that a guest was here who wanted to meet the speaker. To our surprise, the guest was one of the soldiers Steve had commanded in Iraq. It was heartwarming to watch these two greet each other as only special brothers can do. Steve asked about this man's life now, and he reported that he taught government at Marshall High School nearby. I'll not forget what happened next. Steve took hold of the man's shoulders, looked deep into his eyes as only an Army commander can do, said to him, "I'm so proud of you for becoming a teacher!"

Army officers like Steve are experts at equipping, motivating, and leading men and women. They understand the value of education. Being a witness to that special moment reminded me of just how important our work is here at LeTourneau. We have a God-given privilege to invest in the lives of thousands of men and women.

Whether we give a lecture in a classroom or prepare a transcript, we are all teachers with daily opportunities to live by example in front of our students. It is a privilege few have. I'm so proud of all of you for becoming teachers!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembering 9/11: Seeking God in Tragedy

Some days are routine. Other days are unforgettable. September 11, 2001 started out as any other normal day, and yet, it became a defining moment for us all.

Most of us remember exactly where we were when he heard the news about the terrorist attack on 9/11. We remember with vivid detail the news unfolding that there was one, then two, airplanes hitting the World Trade Center in New York City. Then an airplane purposely aimed into the Pentagon, and more lives were lost in a field in Pennsylvania from an airplane that terrorists had plotted to target the White House.

News images of the towers falling, bystanders running, the ash cloud billowing into the clear morning air-those images became a part of us.

But what made the events of 9/11 personal to me were the two colleagues who were directly impacted by the terrorist attacks. Jim's son had just graduated from college that summer and had landed a plum job with a finance firm in New York. His office was in one of the World Trade Centers. Dorothy's son-in-law was assigned to the Pentagon. The only greater terror than what we were watching on TV was the terror I saw in the faces of Jim and Dorothy. I felt helpless in trying to minister to them. Dorothy received a phone call in the early afternoon that her son-in-law was safe. Jim did not hear until the end of the day that his son was unharmed - he was not in his office when the attack occurred.

I learned that day that the attack on some of us, as Americans, was an attack on all of us. And it is a day we should remember.

Many have been planning special 9/11 commemoration events that begin tonight with a faculty forum. Chapel Friday and then next Monday will be special events. I encourage you to attend but even more importantly I encourage you to help our students understand the significance of the day and the war on terrorism that has followed.

The official 9/11 ceremony in New York City this weekend will include no prayer nor any "religious leaders." That makes our 9/11 events at LETU even more important.  It will be our opportunity to seek God in this tragedy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vice President for Enrollment Services Search

As you already know, Linda Fitzhugh has asked to transition from her role as vice president for Enrollment Services and transition into a new role in our Development office where she will assist in identifying friends and funding for the university.

An exceptional manager of resources and people, Linda has brought thousands of students to LETU. Linda was the youngest female administrator the school had known when she came in as assistant director of admissions in 1978. Her skills were also integral to the growth of our School of Graduate and Professional Studies as she helped launch what was then known as the LEAP program for working adults.

This year, despite a difficult economy and state financial aid cutbacks that posed challenges, she and her team have succeeded in drawing to LETU a class of exceptional quality.

We have appointed a search committee to identify our next Vice President for Enrollment Services. The committee will search and recommend their top three applicants to the Dr. Coyle and me. We hope to have interviews on campus this fall.

Serving on the search committee are:
  • Robert Hudson, Chair, Vice President for Globalization
  • Ginger Moore, Registrar
  • Corey Ross, Dean of Students
  • Fred Ritchey, Dean of School of Aeronautical Science
  • Paul Leiffer, Professor of Engineering, Chair of Dept. of Engineering
  • Steve Mason, Associate Provost
  • Mike Hood, Chief Financial Officer
  • James Townsend, Senior Director of Enrollment Services
  • Tracy Watkins, Director of Financial Aid
The national search firm of Myers McRae will help us identify a strategic thinker with a drive to grow enrollment who will be influential in shaping the characteristics of each incoming class and aligning those with our strategic vision.

You can help. Please pray for those involved in the selection process and for those who will be applying that we will soon know who God has already prepared to fill this vital role for the university.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why LETU? Trust.

Last weekend during new student orientation, I met with several parents who are entrusting their new students to LeTourneau University. I am humbled at the trust they have placed in us. As Karl Payton reminded us at our university communion last week, parents have placed in our care their most precious possessions.

At the core of every reason why they chose LETU was "trust." Trust in LETU's reputation and the quality of our education experience; trust in the relationships that define the LETU community; and trust that God will bless their sons and daughters for choosing LETU as their university.

It takes many hands and many hearts working together to get the new semester off to a great start. Our Enrollment Services team has done a great job this year, despite difficult external factors such as the slowed economy and reductions in the state-funded Tuition Equalization Grant, a need-based program that helps offset tuition costs of students attending private universities. While our numbers this semester may not hit record levels, the quality of this incoming class is as good as ever.

Student Affairs has worked diligently to prepare for the new and returning students and made significant changes in our housing program. New student orientation activities gave new students opportunity to get to know each other and begin the transition to college life on the right foot.

Faculty members were ready for classes Tuesday as the new fall semester officially got under way. In the midst of the lingering heat, it was wonderful to see their enthusiasm to return to the privileged process of learning together with our students.

Our University Chaplain has planned a dynamic year of chapel services intended to build and strengthen faith and commitment to follow God's call. Yesterday's Convocation chapel was a wonderful time of worship together and was a great start to a great new year in chapel.

Today I'm off to Pennsylvania where I look forward to sharing with others some of the events of this week and the message that LETU is a place worthy of their trust also.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Welcome Back, LeTourneau Nation

In a week filled with special events, I again participated in one Tuesday that is most meaningful to me: the faculty commissioning service.

Led in responsive reading by Chaplain Carl, the faculty again affirmed their agreement with our university statement of faith.

It is our shared confession of faith that unites us and differentiates us from other universities. It is a simple, intimate event in historic Speer Chapel and I am encouraged by it every year.

Last weekend I was back in my hometown of Tulsa, Okla. to visit with LETU friends and trustees. We talked about many of the great things we are looking forward to in the future as LETU continues to meet needs of students seeking Christian higher education. Some of the things we discussed were among those I shared Monday at the State of the University address. I'm scheduled to be on campus until late next week when I will travel to Pennsylvania to meet with trustees and other friends of the university there.

As you may have already noticed when you opened your email this week, the LeTourNews is getting a facelift.

Communication is important. With this new school year, you'll notice this new look and my intentional effort to regularly communicate my travels, insights and activities that affect the university.

This academic year brings many new faces to campus, and I know you will join me to welcome our new faculty and staff members to the "LeTourneau Nation."