Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scholarship Gala 2013: Why I Give

Scholarships are crucial to LeTourneau University. They help us attract some of the best and brightest students from around the country and help us keep students whose families are struggling to overcome the economic challenges of paying for college.

Scholarship dollars don't just grow on trees. They come from the generous hearts of families and corporate sponsors who recognize the value of investing in the future generation.

Recently, we celebrated the generosity of many of our local sponsors during our 2013 Scholarship Gala banquet on campus. We thanked many of our local corporate sponsors for their continued giving to our Presidential Scholarship program, and we shared a video titled "Why I Give" that gave our donors the opportunity to share their motivation to give. The video also gave our student scholarship recipients the opportunity to say "thank you."

We also celebrated the creation of a new endowed scholarship: the Scott N. Bowen Memorial Endowed Scholarship, named in memory of 1982 LeTourneau College mechanical engineering alumnus who had a successful engineering career in the transportation industry. Bowen lived his life with a strong desire to use his talents to glorify God. His life, though brief, was full of love and kindness, leaving behind a legacy inspiring others to live as he did, honoring God with his dedication to his family and his willingness to help others. His family's gift in his memory will support future generations of men and women at LETU. Bowen's son, Nathan, accepted a plaque in his father's honor.

A highlight of the evening was when we surprised Joe Bob Joyce by presenting him with the Henry O. Gossett Community Partner Award that honors a community leader who demonstrates long-term commitment to LeTourneau University and who strengthens the ties between the university and the Longview community through acts of service.

As many of you may know, Joe Bob Joyce has served on our Board of Trustees since 2009 and has served on several committees including as a two-term president of my President's Advisory Committee. He and his family have supported the construction of the Belcher Center and the renovations of the Corner Café and aviation facilities, and most recently the Joyce Family Athletic Village.

We as a university are grateful for the generosity of these and others who partner with us, who see the need and are willing and able to provide this crucial funding for scholarships. And to them, we should all say, "thank you."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Larry Payton: A Legacy of Faith & Work

I loved Larry Payton.

I can't believe he is gone.

The text came from my hometown just as I walked into a budget meeting Tuesday. I'm sure Mike Hood, Phil Coyle, and Ron DeLap found me absent minded the rest of the afternoon. My dear friend Larry had died. At just 64, he was called home too soon. See story.

Most likely, you've never heard of Larry, although he was well known in Tulsa, Okla. His business, Celebrity Attractions, brought Broadway shows and other entertainment into the city and more recently into Little Rock, Oklahoma City and several Texas cities.  

Larry was my friend, one of my few genuine friends. We shared a love for baseball, and he especially loved the Cardinals of his native St. Louis. Larry died just about one month after the death of his hero, Stan "The Man" Musial.

Larry integrated his faith and work. He had the kind of career in which he would sit next to me at a deacon's meeting Sunday night and be on Broadway in New York City the next afternoon. What was a Jesus-loving, Southern Baptist from Oklahoma doing working in the secular and often hostile entertainment industry? Because he wanted to be salt and light...and he was to the very end.

He was the kind of friend courageous enough to look me in the eye and speak words of correction when I was off track. He was humble enough to share that he had made serious mistakes, too. He was comfortable enough to write "I love you" at the end of an email. I fear I'll never have another friend like him. I fear I'll never be the friend that Larry was. Hug your best friend today and tell him or her you love them.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

LETU Alumni Changing the World: Stephen Casey

LeTourneau alumni are quietly changing the world from their workplaces in every nation. One example is LETU alumnus and attorney Stephen Casey, who has been at the center of Texas and national news this week for his efforts to save a human life.

The case involves protecting a 16-year-old girl from the Houston area who is being pressured by her parents to abort her 9-week-old fetus. See Fox News story here.

Stephen now lives in Austin where he co-founded the Texas Center for the Defense of Life, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "aggressively defend the sanctity of human life in Texas and federal courts from conception through natural death." They provide pro bono legal representation to pro-life individuals and organizations.

This lawsuit alleges the teenager's parents have used verbal and physical threats, including the teenager's mother indicating she might sneak an abortion pill to her daughter without her consent. The suit also alleges the teenager's father has threatened to take her for the abortion and that the "decision was his, end of story." TCDL has obtained a temporary restraining order against the teenager's parents, with a court hearing slated for Monday. Their argument is sound: Roe v. Wade case law and the so-called 'right to choose' includes the right to choose life.

"No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life--especially one that belongs to someone else--is worthless," said Casey, who is chief counsel. "The right NOT to have an abortion is protected by law, and this right is not relinquished just because someone else considers the child to be an unwanted burden."

Please pray for God's strength and wisdom for Stephen as he leads this case. He is scheduled to appear on the "Justice with Judge Jeanine" show on Fox Network at 8 p.m. Saturday, Central Time. The show presents legal insights into high profile cases.

This cause is especially personal to me, and I am so proud to see an LETU alum fighting for life. Many of you know my testimony: Before I was born, God saved me from abortion, and I was instead adopted at birth. Let's pray for this baby in Houston to live.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Under Call

The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities met in Washington D.C. last week to inaugurate a new president: Edward Blews, Jr. I'm honored LeTourneau University is a part of the CCCU, an international association of Christ-centered institutions educating over 100,000 students with a foundation of biblical truth.

Dr. Blews comes to the CCCU from Michigan where he led the association of private universities for 28 years. In his inaugural address, he described how God led him and his wife, Debra, to this new leadership position. He prefaced the story with the statement "Of course, we are people who live under call."

Don't you agree with me that the most peaceful and faithfully effective among us at LETU share this conviction that they are "under call?" It is something the world doesn't understand, but as people of faith, we know this profound truth: when we submit to God's call in our life, we are most joyful and content. Marsha and I experienced a call to come to LETU six years ago. We were quite happy and satisfied where we were, yet we could not deny that God had been orchestrating our move. As I told the group of LETU faculty and staff at the President's Coffee this week, "I was afraid to say no" to God, so I came.

Living under call means acknowledging that we exist for bigger things than ourselves. Our own needs and wants are not as important as God's purposes. To live under call is to surrender our rights to God. I firmly believe our university exists under call. This institution is unique in the CCCU with our call to claim every workplace in every nation for Christ. And our call supersedes our circumstances. Whether our economy is booming or sour, whether our budgets are growing or shrinking; our call doesn't change. God's purposes for our lives and for our school rise above our current circumstances. Of course, absolutely, thankfully, we are a people who live under call.