Friday, January 31, 2014

Plans for a Sabbatical

On April 21, 2014 Marsha and I will begin a three-month sabbatical leave. By then we will have completed a busy seven years at LETU and the timing is right for a short season of rest and reflection.  We're thankful for the Board's gift of this leave and grateful for the capable campus leadership team that makes it possible for us to be away.

We're healthy. We're happy. We're hopeful about the future of the university and our opportunity to serve here for years to come.
We also know it is time for renewal. We know God created us for both work and for rest. Rest prepares one for the work of life and meaningful rest in the presidency is only possible with an extended time away from the daily activities of engaging with the LeTourneau Nation in Longview and beyond.

I'm eager to reconnect. This leave affords an opportunity to spend quality time with Marsha. We'll start our 30th year of marriage in May and during this time at LETU our girls have grown into women -- finished high school then college and started their own lives. We've become grandparents! It's a good time to reflect on how our lives have changed and what is ahead. And this leave provides an opportunity to reconnect with God and better sense the presence of His Holy Spirit. I've learned the still, small voice can be often lost in my daily schedule.  I'm praying for God to renew my call, purpose and identity in Him while we're away. 

Next year we will begin the work of updating our university strategic plan to direct us to 2020. I'm certain this planned rest for my body, mind and soul will equip me to identify our opportunities, define our challenges, and pursue God's direction for us. God has assembled many exceptional and faithful folk here at LETU during the last seven years. He has given us a compelling vision for Christ in the workplace. He has provided for us during the worst economic crisis in a generation. We've not chosen Him. He has chosen us. And I'm excited to prepare myself to be part of what's next for LETU.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Remembering a friend: Earl Roberts, Jr.

When former Longview mayor Earl Roberts, Jr. died of cancer Jan. 2, both the city and LeTourneau University lost a dear and great friend.

A native of Longview, Earl loved his hometown and served it with distinction. He served as Longview's city attorney for over two decades, then served as mayor of Longview from 2000 to 2003.

Earl understood that Longview would grow only if the quality of life was attractive. In July, he was named by the city council to lead the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, a group of 25 Longview residents that has been charged to develop a long-range plan to steer the city through the next two decades. I was proud to be included in that committee and looked forward to working with Earl. 

As a friend of LeTourneau, Earl was first elected to the board of trustees at LeTourneau College in 1967. On his candidate information form, Earl wrote, "Jesus became my savior at age 7, and since that time, He has been the center of my life; I am striving to become more like Him."

Later, in a letter he wrote in the fall of 1981 to Dr. Richard H. LeTourneau, then-LeTourneau College president, Earl wrote, "I believe it would be safe to say that only the Sunday School class which I teach has given me greater satisfaction in furthering the Lord's work than my service as a member of the Board of Trustees of LeTourneau College."

He served LeTourneau College, and then LeTourneau University, faithfully for many years, rotating off and on the board throughout the years.  In 2007, when I came to LETU as president, Earl was elected as a board member emeritus. His service to the school never ended. In 2012, he and his wife, Betty, created the Earl Roberts Endowed Scholarship Fund. From 1967 to 2013 - what a marathon of service to our university! Earl, you will be missed.

Friday, January 10, 2014

LETU Earns Grants for Mobility Research

Over the Christmas break, LeTourneau University got some great news!

Thanks to the work of our faculty and staff, the university was informed that the W. M. Keck Foundation has awarded a $250,000 grant for an interdisciplinary mobility lab (IML) on our campus.

The lab will have a focus on international mobility research in an undergraduate setting. Implementation will include a three-way collaboration involving faculty and students in three disciplines: biology, engineering and kinesiology.

This lab will be used by undergraduate students in Karen Rispin's Wheels project, Norm Reese's Frontier Wheelchairs project, as well as kinesiology students working with Duane Trogdon in human mobility research. Kudos are due to these faculty members and our Office of Sponsored Programs Director Paul Boggs and his assistant Margaret Lister, who provided logistical and other support for the grant proposal. We appreciate their work and especially the generosity of the Keck Foundation.

The world-class equipment provided by the Keck Foundation will enable LETU undergrads and faculty using the IML to collect gold-standard research data that will advance the state of knowledge in assistive technology. Their work could also open doors for future funding opportunities.

About the W.M. Keck Foundation: Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation's grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical, science and engineering research. The Foundation also maintains an undergraduate education program that promotes distinctive learning and research experiences for students in the sciences and in the liberal arts, and a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth from low-income families, special needs populations and safety-net services.  For more information, please