Friday, July 26, 2013

From Longview to Fame

If the Summer of 2013 has a theme it must be "From Longview to Fame!"

You probably already know that Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey grew up in Longview.  Actor Forest Whitaker and Country Music superstar Miranda Lambert were also born in Longview.  And I won't even begin listing all the professional athletes who came from our university's home town.

New to the list of Longview-residents-made-good is Baltimore Oriole Chris Davis.  Davis was elected to the American League All Start team with more fan votes than any player this summer.

As I write, he leads Major League Baseball in home runs with 37. If you are not a baseball fan, 37 home runs at this point in the season is one of professional baseball's best ever performances. Davis played for Longview High School and was also a part of the Texas Rangers organization before being  traded away. Davis is baseball's new superstar.

But closer to home, two of our past LeTourneau University professionals have received some fame this summer.

Dr. Brent Ellis has been named the new president at Spring Arbor University in Michigan, and Dr. Sherilyn Emberton has been named the new president at Huntington University in Indiana.

I thank God that Brent and Sherilyn have answered God's call to serve His important work in Christian Higher Education.  I will look forward to working with them in our great cause.

This weekend is the Great Texas Balloon Race at East Texas Regional Airport.  For those of you who can attend, be sure to come out and visit with our LETU alumni who will be at the LETU Alumni Balloon Glow Hangar Party at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at the Abbott Center. The hangar party is free to faculty, staff and alumni.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Making our American Story

Our university-wide lunch last week was a real treat. Thanks to those who  told their "American Stories" and to all of you who shared in the  fellowship and patriotic songs.

As we gathered on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, I couldn't resist the opportunity to dress like Abraham Lincoln and recite his Gettysburg Address. It is likely the most well-known speech in American history and it was moving to go back and read his words again.

In his newspaper column this week, David Brooks reflected on the Civil War and observed that from Lincoln's Gettysburg address on down to the thousands of letters sent home by soldiers, the words of those who fought that war reflected a higher calling.

They loved their country and saw their fight as a responsibility they  inherited from generations before them who fought and died in the  American Revolution. Brooks described this as "...a belief that they were born in a state of indebtedness to an ongoing project, and they would inevitably be called upon to pay these debts, to come square with the country, even at the cost of their lives."

I am inspired by men and women who live their lives on mission; for a cause greater than themselves. The history of our faith is the history of such selfless men and women. This history of LeTourneau Tech, its time as LeTourneau College, and now its time as LeTourneau University is filled with those who poured their lives into the noble work of higher education here.

In my own life, "the state of indebtedness to an ongoing project" I sense is my small part in the ongoing restorative work of God's project that we call LETU. It is true that LeTourneau University has been uniquely equipped to answer God's call and just as true that we have been called to invest our lives in that work at this time and place. This sense of obligation and debt to others is a great gift for which I am grateful. And I'm grateful to join with so many others at LETU who have also surrendered to this higher calling.