Thursday, April 30, 2015

Building & Strengthening LETU Connections in South Korea

This week, I am in South Korea with Dr. Kelly Liebengood, Alan Clipperton and Dr. Joonwan Kim building new relationships and strengthening old ones with several university presidents here. 

Monday, we visited Catholic Kwandong University President Dr. Myung-Hun Chun in Kangnung and had an opportunity to present LETU, talk about our graduate engineering programs and promote a dual degree program.   We talked about developing a nursing license program and talked about the TEACH program and recruiting exchange students.   

From there, we traveled to Pohang to meet the new president at Handong Global University, Dr. Soon Heung Chang, who is an MIT-educated nuclear engineer.  Our last partnership with this evangelical Christian school was signed in 2005, and while I was here, we renewed our longstanding partnership agreement and discussed ways for further collaboration.  HGU has about 3,600 undergraduate and 450 graduate students.   

We also visited Daegu University,  where LETU engineering professor Dr. Joonwan Kim graduated.  We met for the first time with Daegu University President Dr. Duckryul Hong, learned a lot about the school and signed a partnership agreement.  Daegu University has 17,500 undergraduates and nearly 2,000 graduates and is not affiliated with any religious organization. 

From there, we visited President Dr. Hyung-Tae Kim at Hannam University, an evangelical school of about 12,500 undergraduates and 1,273 graduate students.  This was our first visit to their campus, however Hannam University president visited LETU last May, so it was my pleasure to return the favor. 

Wednesday, we visited and signed our first agreement with Dr. Augustine Jungku Lee at Sungkonghoe University, which is an Anglican Church-related school of over 3,000 undergraduates and nearly 500 graduate students.  We also met the dean of Student and International Student Affairs Dr. Daniel Seongchan Kim, whose son is studying electrical engineering at LETU.

Before we come home, we are scheduled to have a short meeting with Hanyang University President Dr. Young Moo Lee in Seoul to learn more about the school and discuss ways we can work together. HYU is ranked 4th in Korea and about 250th around the world, with nearly 23,000 undergraduate students and over 6,500 graduate students. It has no religious affiliation.  We have hosted and sent exchange students to and from HYU for over a year.  Alan Clipperton has worked a lot with this university in his former place of employment. 

Also while in Seoul, we have plans to meet with and renew our friendship with former HGU president Gil Young Kim, who is now employed with the United Nations.

This trip is important for expanding our international relationships.  Korea is LETU's gateway to Asia. It is essential for our graduates to be exposed to this region of the world.  And for students in Asia, a Christian university focused on STEM programs has much to offer.

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.