This week marks two historic beginnings for LeTourneau University.
Monday morning, we announced the addition of track & field to our LETU YellowJacket athletics programs, and we signed a new partnership agreement to establish a physical presence on the Handong Global University campus in South Korea.
TRACK & FIELD
The new track & field athletic program brings to 15 the number of sports that LETU competes in at the NCAA Division III level in the American Southwest Conference.
I was surprised to learn that track & field is one of the most popular sports in the state of Texas. By adding this new program, LETU has the potential to draw from the 75,000 boys and 60,000 girls in 1,311 high schools across the state who compete in UIL track and field events. Nationally, over a million high school athletes participated in track & field events in the 2015-16 academic year.
Students who come to LeTourneau this next fall will begin training for the competitive season that begins in January 2018. These athletes will have the unique opportunity to make YellowJacket history as the university's first track & field athletes.
Leading this new program will be Don Hood, who is a well-known and admired name among Texas track and field coaches, having been named the 2008 United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association Men's Coach of the Year.
Don has experience coaching at both the high school and collegiate level. His leadership will be an asset in launching a successful indoor and outdoor men's and women's track & field program here at LETU.
STRATEGIC GLOBAL ALLIANCE
Another historic note this week was the new partnership agreement I signed with Handong Global University President Dr. Soon-Heung Chang Monday morning.
The plan is to have a faculty/staff member reside annually at HGU every semester beginning in Fall 2017, with the length of stay ranging from one semester to one academic year.
Among a host of advantages, this agreement would enable students to start their academic careers at HGU and finish at LETU, with students receiving degrees from both HGU and LETU. It also paves the way for a cooperative aviation program to allow HGU students to receive aviation-related degrees through and/or at LETU.
The agreement sets up an international student recruitment hub and enables a three-way transfer program with universities in China, Mongolia and Vietnam to allow students to transfer credits to HGU from their home university and finish their degrees at LETU.
The agreement could become a gateway for LETU to serve more students in East Asia in the future.