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.