Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Foundation Through the Ages

LeTourneau University's Homecoming 2013 surely was the most successful in many years. Congratulations to Martha Steed who led the way and to dozens of others who worked behind the scenes to welcome home hundreds of our alumni. The weekend clearly demonstrates that our former students will travel hundreds or thousands of miles to return to campus, see old friends, and rejoice in all the good God has done in their lives and at their alma mater. It's always a blessing for us to host them when they visit. I saw in their laughter and tears that it was a special blessing for them to be here with their friends.

Dr. Lunsford with the LeTourneau family.
Louise LeTourneau Dick (seated) with her brothers Ben and Roy.
Ben's wife, Betty, is standing in the center.
Roy's wife, Shirley, is not pictured.
The three surviving children of R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau were all together on campus -- a memory I will forever cherish. Roy LeTourneau spoke in chapel to our current students and then again to our Golden Jackets -- those who graduated 50 or more years ago. It was a rare opportunity for today's student body to hear the booming LeTourneau family voice speak about Mr. R.G.'s commitment to make God his partner in his life's work. And it was a treat to listen to our Golden Jackets ask Roy to tell stories from decades ago when Pop LeTourneau drove his Volkswagen around campus and Mom LeTourneau cooked for homesick students.

Our guests were amazed at the physical changes on campus ('Where are the barracks?') I believe they were even more amazed to find the commitment to Christ still alive and central to who we are as a community. While many things had changed, the faith foundation of our university was still there.

Some of the students you see on campus today may return here 50 years from now for a similar homecoming. The university they find will be built on the foundation we are laying today. As those before us did, let's continue to build on the solid rock of Peter's confession that Jesus is Lord. That's a foundation that will last through the ages.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The LETU Board of Trustees: Doing God's Work

Our LETU trustees are on campus from across North America to attend the semi-annual board meeting.

Last November, board elections were held, and this meeting is the first for Pat Bertsche to serve as the board chair. Pat and his family live in St. Charles, Ill. He is the chief financial officer for Camcraft, Inc., a family owned manufacturing business that makes precision-machined engine system components to exacting specifications. (Watch this recent video on LeTourneau University's Center for Faith & Work website about how the Bertsche family runs Camcraft as 'God's business,' allowing Biblical principles to guide their work).

With new LeTourneau University Chairman of the Board
Pat Bertsche, CFO of Camcraft, Inc.
A 1989 LETU alumnus who earned his degree in industrial management, Pat has been involved in financial management, strategic planning and business operations for years.

He has a heart for Christian education and served as the superintendent of the Westminster Christian School, formerly having served as its board president. He loves LeTourneau and has coordinated numerous alumni meetings around the country and even hosted alumni events in his home.

Other new officers include our vice chair Larry Mercer of Dallas, Texas; our secretary Paul Abbott of Jenks, Okla.; and treasurer Merle Stoltzfus of Elverson, Penn. This week's meeting is also the first for three new trustees, including Gene Frost of West Chicago, Ill., James Nolt of York, Penn. and Dean Waskowiak of Longview, Texas.

While on campus, board members toured the Allen Center construction site. This group toured with LETU Dean of Students Corey Ross. Want to see the latest progress as the building goes up? Check out our live construction cam.
I am grateful for all of our trustees. They come here to share their wisdom, their experience and their love for LeTourneau University. Please join me in welcoming them to Longview, and to campus, and thanking them for their service.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I-20 Corridor: Share Your Ideas for Beautification & Economic Growth

City of Longview Mayor Jay Dean has asked me to chair a citizen's task force to study the economic development of our I-20 corridor. Development of the Interstate 20 corridor is a significant opportunity for the city of Longview to expand economic growth and take advantage of a resource that brings over 37,000 vehicles per day past the Estes Parkway and I-20 intersection.

Anyone who travels north on Estes Parkway toward our LeTourneau University campus can see that this entrance into the city does not represent Longview as the economically vibrant, beautiful city that it is. Our prospective students and their parents drive to campus from I-20 when coming to preview LeTourneau University. They pass several abandoned and shuttered buildings as well as unattractive and overgrown lots. Unfortunately, it is their first impression of Longview.

We at LeTourneau University have a vested interest in being part of beautification and economic growth efforts in South Longview. Because this is our city's front door, all in Longview will benefit from a redeveloped I-20 corridor.

Having been outspoken on the need for improvements, I was eager to get started. Our task force is meeting through May in MSC 3 to consider ideas and develop recommendations for the Mayor and City Council. It's wonderful to have these city leaders and concerned citizens on our campus and to see the valuable asset they have in LETU.

To help with getting input from the community, the Longview Chamber of Commerce has launched a website,

I invite those of who are Longview community members to click on the link and share your ideas. The website offers guided questions such as:
  • What type of economic development would you like to see along Longview's I-20 corridor?
  • What types of development would encourage you to visit the Sabine River bottomlands?
  • What can the city do to encourage private developers to make an investment along our I-20 corridor?
  • From your experience, what cities do a great job of attracting visitors from their interstate highway?
Because so many of you, as LETU faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends, live and work in the local community, you have a unique perspective on South Longview. I hope you'll let your good ideas be heard on this website. If nothing else, voice your agreement with the urgency that now is the time to reclaim this neighborhood for the sake of all of Longview.