Our LeTourneau University Board of Trustees recently approved our 2017-18 budget that includes an investment in growth initiatives that will expand LETU's impact both locally and globally.
Included in this budget is the opening of a permanent LETU office this fall in South Korea at Handong Global University. Engineering professor Dr. Jesse French will be our ambassador as he and his family move there to lay the groundwork for this new initiative with HGU. Not only does it strengthen the already strong partnership we have with HGU, but this new initiative stands to be a gateway to recruit students from throughout Asia.
In our new Plano microsite, the budget includes two new positions, including a new chair for global business programs and a business-to-business marketing position. The Dallas market is a significant opportunity, and we can meet the needs of Christian business owners and their employees.
Here in Longview, we have announced our new engineering dean and new business dean appointments, but will also be funding a new associate dean in engineering. Dr. Kelly Liebengood has already been serving as our new dean of theology, and now we are in the search process to fill the role of director of our Honors College.
A search has been launched for a new fine arts director who will facilitate new arts experiences for our residential students. Many of our students come to us with years of music training and artistic ability that needs a place to be expressed. The new fine arts director will restart a LeTourneau choir, like the one that LETU had for many years, as well as work with our student worship leaders.
Another growth initiative is the addition of our track and field program, which provides a pipeline for recruiting students who may have participated in track and field in high school and who want to attend LETU to become an engineer, an aviator, an educator or nurse. We will begin the program using borrowed facilities at local high schools, but will begin looking at funding to build a nice track for events on our campus.
Our investment in dual enrollment initiatives has resulted in a total of 500 current dual enrollment students. Dual enrollment has become a public policy priority with state legislators to help defray the costs of college education and make it more affordable. Dual Enrollment is a priority with both public and private schools, and the timing is right for LETU to play a role. Our dual enrollment partnerships are providing an open pipeline for students to earn college credits and learn more about LETU and the many programs we offer. At last count, about 60 of our current dual enrollment students who are graduating from high school have applied for admission to attend LETU on campus in the fall.
In another investment in growth, the board also has approved the purchase of two new twin-engine aircraft for our aviation program for this year. Our expansion into the McKinney National Airport location continues to draw students and expand our impact and our name recognition there.
These are exciting times at LeTourneau University as we prepare to celebrate the achievements of about 400 graduates who are completing their degree programs during our two commencement services Saturday, May 6. This new budget will fund investments to graduate future classes of well-prepared students into every workplace in every nation.