Friday, December 9, 2016

December Commencement

Saturday will be another momentous and celebratory day on our campus as 214 LeTourneau University undergraduate and graduate students will be rewarded for their hard work as they qualify to receive the degrees they have worked so hard to achieve.

Families and friends will gather, some visiting the university's main campus for the first time.

Our keynote speaker is Texas Senator-elect Bryan Hughes, who is a Republican from Mineola, Texas, who recently won the Senate District 1 seat formerly held by retiring Republican Senator Kevin Eltife.

Hughes will take office when the Texas Legislature convenes in January in Austin. Hughes is no stranger to political life. He is the former Texas State Representative for District 5.

Like me, Hughes is the first member of his family to receive a bachelor's degree.

As an East Texas native, Hughes attended Tyler Junior College and the University of Texas at Tyler, earning his BBA in Economics, cum laude, in 1992. He earned his law degree in 1995 from Baylor University School of Law and was honored to serve as law clerk from 1995-1997 for U.S. District Judge William Steger of Tyler.

In his first run for public office in 2002, Hughes was elected with 52% of the vote against a long-time incumbent. In 2004, he was reelected by a 62% margin and in 2006 with 82% of the vote. He ran unopposed for reelection in 2008 and 2010. Facing his first ever opposition in the Republican Primary in 2012, Hughes was honored to be elected by a 77% margin. In 2014, Hughes won by 92%, his highest margin ever, until this last election, in which he won the Republican nomination in May and ran unopposed for the Texas Senate seat in November.

Hughes was honored in 2007 with Tyler Junior College's Valuable Young Alumnus award. In 2008, he was chosen as Baylor University's Young Lawyer of the Year. In 2013, the University of Texas at Tyler named him a Distinguished Alumni.

He has received numerous awards for his work in the Legislature, including the Taxpayer Champion Award from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, the Horizon Award from Texas Right to Life and "Defender of the American Dream" from Americans for Prosperity. In 2011, Texas Right to Life named Hughes the Pro-Life Whip of the Texas House.

Hughes is also a committed Christian. He is a leader in his church, a champion for the unborn and he understands the integration of faith and work in his daily life.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

YellowJacket Student-Athletes: Character that Lasts a Lifetime

At this holiday time of year, many of us (including me) spend countless hours enjoying college football and basketball on television. 

However, the purpose of college athletics is education, not entertainment, and certainly not money. 

LETU Athletic Director Terri Deike and our entire staff of coaches in our YellowJackets athletics program understand that. They seek to instill in our student athletes the values of a statement that reads: 
"We are committed student athletes of integrity, accountable for our choices, united in the pursuit of academic, athletic and spiritual excellence."
Their work is paying off.

Just this week, the American Southwest Conference announced the Fall 2016 Team Sportsmanship Awards, presented by the 13 ASC Student-Athlete Advisory Committees to eight ASC member institutions.

The SAAC Team Sportsmanship award honors the member institution in each ASC championship sport that best displays positive qualities of sportsmanship and fair play from its student-athletes, coaches and fans throughout the season.

LeTourneau University led with three team SAAC awards for sportsmanship: men's cross country, women's soccer and women's volleyball. Two other colleges received two awards, and five other colleges each had one award, but LETU led as the only college that received three team awards.  

The women's soccer honor was shared among three other colleges (Hardin-Simmons, Louisiana College, McMurry) and the women's volleyball honor was shared with one other college (Belhaven).

I particularly liked how the ASC news release was worded: 
"LeTourneau led..."  

I believe we do lead the conference in the character we bring to athletic competition. Our student-athletes receive a transforming education both inside and outside the classroom. I have often said that our athletic facilities, including our soccer and baseball/softball fields, our basketball, volleyball and tennis courts and our gymnasiums are some of the largest classrooms we have on campus. 

I am proud of Terri, our coaching staff and our student-athletes for exemplifying these God-honoring values and for the character they are building that will last a lifetime.  

More details on the Fall 2016 ASC Sportsmanship Awards can be found online here.