Thursday, August 25, 2016

Meet Missionaries in Residence Marv & Jan Smith

This first week of classes and chapel services marks the first time in 14 years that we have started the school year with a vacancy in the office of our university chaplain, who has left LETU with his wife to pursue the calling of being closer to their newborn first grandchild.

While we certainly miss them, I am delighted to introduce our new Missionary In Residence Marv Smith, who will be filling in to host our chapels this fall as we search for a new chaplain.

Marv and his wife, Jan, have a long history of serving in overseas missions that began when they boarded an airplane years ago bound for Kenya, on the eastern side of Africa. They have now served with Africa Inland Mission for 35 years, working first in Kenya and most recently in Tanzania.

Marv has held a variety of positions over the years, including evangelism and church planting on an island off the north coast of Kenya, 10 years as the principal of a Bible school. Other roles included training and encouraging others to share the good news with Muslim peoples and serving in mission leadership.

For the past four years, the Smiths served on the south coast of Tanzania, sharing the Gospel in a small town that has been a center of Islamic culture for a thousand years. Tanzania lies just south of the Equator bordering the Indian Ocean, with Kenya and Uganda to the north.

Marv and Jan are actually returning to LeTourneau University, having served as Missionaries in Residence and as International Student Coordinators at LETU from 2003 to 2007. They have told me they loved their time at LeTourneau University in the past and are looking forward to serving again as our Missionaries in Residence this year. Marv's office will be in the Belcher Center, and I hope you will all give Marv and Jan a big LeTourneau University welcome.

And to Marv and Jan, welcome back. We are blessed to have you here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Excitement and Promise of a New Semester

Today is move-in day for around 380 new students, transfer students and those who are returning after taking a break in their college studies. We are pleased to welcome these students who are coming to us from 31 states across the country and 12 countries around the world. 

We have students moving in today who are coming from Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Korea, Madagascar, Mexico, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
I had the great pleasure today to welcome several of our new students to our campus for the 2016-2017 academic year who are "legacy" students, meaning that one, or both, of their parents are LETU alumni. For example, Dave and Carmelita Boyce of Tampa, Fla., are here with their son, Joshua, who is an incoming freshman student. Dave was wearing his KZX shirt and told me about living in the KZX "barracks" on campus.

Dave graduated in 1990 with his computer science/technology degree. Carmelita graduated in 1991 with her degree in biology. They said they didn't fall in love at first sight. They became friends first--then they fell in love. 

What a wonderful blessing it is that these alumni loved their alma mater and chose to send their children here these many years later.    
Every semester begins with a lot of excitement and promise. This year is no different. Our Fall 2016 freshman class of 270 students has an average SAT scores of 1157 and ACT scores of 25.2. Their high school grade point average of 3.6 puts them in the top of their classes. While many of them are drawn to us for our engineering programs, they represent every major on campus. The ratio of men to women in this incoming class is 2:1.  
And as soon as a new fall semester begins, it is time for our admissions counselors to start over attracting students for the next year's class. Executive Director of Admissions Carl Arnold says his six admissions counselors will be hitting the road to recruit the 2017-2018 freshman class beginning Monday, Sept. 12. But first, his office will host the first Fall 2016 YellowJacket Preview for high school students on Monday, Sept. 5.  
I was delighted to get to welcome those students and their families that I met today, and it reminded me how important it is for all of us remember that futures are built here at LeTourneau University-one student at a time

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Faith & Work Focus: Tony Dungy

I was at the NCAA corporate offices in Indianapolis recently for a meeting of the President's Advisory Group, a body that provides feedback to NCAA President Mark Emmert and his leadership team. Also this past year, I was chair of our American Southwest Conference President's Council. I've come to dearly appreciate the educational value of intercollegiate athletics. Our sports fields and courts are truly our largest classrooms.

Since returning home, I've been immersed in the Olympic Games of Rio. The skill and discipline of these world-class athletes and the hours of television programming in air-conditioned comfort is the perfect remedy to our August heat.

But lost in the Olympics coverage was another powerful sports moment: the induction of Tony Dungy into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Dungy was the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl (Indianapolis Colts, 2007). He is one of the NFL's most articulate Christians. If you are discouraged by the mean-spirited political rhetoric of this season, take 15 minutes and watch Dungy's Hall of Fame Speech here. He is a class act!

Even, if you have no interest in professional football, Tony Dungy merits being in a Hall of Fame for those who have integrated their faith and their professional work.

Coach Dungy said this at the induction ceremony: 
"I'm just sorry that my parents, Wilbur and Cleomae Dungy, aren't alive to see this, because they'd be so proud. My dad always preached to us to set our goals high and not complain about negative circumstances. Just look for a way to make things better. My mom taught us as a Christian, your character, your integrity and how you honor God were so much more important than your job title. One of her favorite Bible verses was Matthew 16:26: 'What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.' And I know that she's happy to know that her son never forgot that verse."
Coach Dungy has said that in his 30 years of professional football, he has seen many forfeit their souls for worldly gain. Unfortunately, we've all seen this tragic trade in every industry and walk of life. Hopefully, Dungy will be an example for generations to come that it is possible to reach the pinnacle of professional success without sacrificing your faith.