Friday, September 14, 2018

Starting the 2018-2019 Academic Year

The Fall 2018 semester is underway, and I am pleased to report that enrollment is 3,175, up nearly 6 percent over last year and up over 16% in the past two years.

This fall we have attracted over 90 international students from 35 countries and a record number of East Texas students, as well. Our dual-credit program is making a nationally ranked Christian education affordable for families as high school students choose LETU to earn college credits while they are still in high school. And we are excited that so many of these students enroll full time once they complete high school.

U.S. News and World Report released Monday its ranking of "America's Best Colleges." This year marks the 25th year that LETU has continued to rank in the top tier of regional universities in the West, a geographic area that extends from Texas to Alaska.

The 2019 U.S. News & World Report rankings listed LETU as #28 among "America's Best Colleges" in the Western Region. Among "Great Schools Great Prices" ranking of schools that provide a Best Value for regional universities in the West, LETU was ranked 12th. Among "Best Colleges for Veterans," LETU was ranked 17th. LETU was also recognized among "A-plus Schools for B-students" among universities that provide opportunity for students accepted for their spirit and hard work. To rank so well out of so many similar universities in the Western region reflects on the quality of our faculty and staff serving at LeTourneau University.

And among all similar schools nationally, LETU's engineering school was ranked among the top 50 engineering programs in the nation and was in the top two best undergraduate engineering schools in the state of Texas, among similar schools with programs whose highest degree is a bachelor's or master's degree.

U.S. News rankings are released each fall and are considered the most notable of the annual published college rankings, but LETU also was ranked among the 2018 Kiplinger's Top 100 Best Universities in the U.S., PayScale's 2018 College ROI Report, and Washington Monthly's 2018 "Best Bang for the Buck" listing of colleges in the U.S.

Thank you everyone for an impressive start to the 2018-2019 academic year. Coming soon is our first Saturday all-campus open house for prospective students and the launch of a new university website. It's a joy to share the story of LeTourneau University.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Technology & the Christian College

Tomorrow I speak to the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities Commission on Technology, which is meeting here on our Longview campus this week.

As "The Christian Polytechnic University," we are honored to have these Information Technology executives here and to host their important discussions about technology and the Christian college.

These IT executives number nearly 100 and come from nearly 30 colleges and universities from around the country. They are responsible for managing and securing their campus IT structure and the data for their campuses. During their conference this week, they focused on casting a vision for the future of IT in Christian higher education. Their theme is "Creating the Power Grid of 2046." They used the year of LETU's future centennial as a marker for the "future" of all Christian higher ed.

Several of our LETU staff are presenting during their conference sessions, sharing their own expertise on a variety of issues.

Those LETU staff presenting and moderating panels include Ethan Cooper, Ken Johnson, Michael Davis, Pablo Albuja Silviero, Mark Hegreberg, Valerie Lewis, and Cindy Thomas. LETU's Center for Faith and Work Executive Director Dr. Bill Peel also addressed the group on the workplace as mission field. Vice President Mike Hood shared a devotional message this morning.

The importance of the work these IT professionals do cannot be overstated. Learning technologies are quickly evolving and becoming more central to every academic program.

Cybersecurity is a major threat and concern for all colleges and universities. Information security is listed as the top issue among the EDUCAUSE's 2018 Top 10 Information Technology issues.

My goal in my remarks tomorrow is to encourage these professionals as they leave for home. Christ-centered higher education is important and it is worthy of our professional energy and personal sacrifices. With Christ at the center of all we do, we see our work as a holy calling with eternal impact.

I am proud of the work that Matthew Henry, who is vice chair of the CCCU COT, has done bringing this group to campus. This is the first CCCU commission to host its conference here in Longview on our campus. Thanks to Matthew and his team for the opportunity to host, and thanks to our Director of Conference and Events Services Marty Lane for all of her work arranging their visit.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Celebrating our Grads & Looking to the Future

Congratulations to more than 400 students who have earned LETU diplomas this Spring. Pastor Erwin Lutzer from the Moody Church in Chicago and many hundreds of guests will be on campus Saturday to celebrate.

As we celebrate these students, let's also look ahead to our future. This week brought good news. I'm asking for your help.

The City of Longview is considering an improvement to Mobberly Avenue that would better connect our campus to downtown Longview. It's a positive step for our university, the neighborhoods of south Longview, and for the overall community.

If you agree, would you please let our city leaders know your opinion?

Here's a quick summary of what's happening:

In 2015, the city developed a Comprehensive Plan to guide Longview's future. Many of our staff and students gave input in the planning. The final plan included a vision for reworking Mobberly Avenue to make it more accessible to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

This week, a citizen advisory group has now recommended this project as the number one priority for street improvements in a proposed package of future capital projects.

Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Maude Cobb Convention Center (100 Grande Blvd. in Longview), the Plan Advisory Committee will meet to accept these priority recommendations.

Finally, the Mayor and City Council will review the priorities and make a decision whether to propose a package of capital improvement projects to be funded. The package would likely include new fire and police facilities, park improvements and other street improvements in addition to the Mobberly Avenue road diet.

Please consider coming to the Monday meeting to voice your support. The project is called the "Mobberly road diet" project. A road or street diet refers to the conversion of multiple traffic lanes on a street to a more pedestrian-, bicycle- and auto-friendly street.

Very importantly, please consider sending a message of support to your City Council representative. You can find them here.

Our LETU community would love to be better connected to the growing energy downtown by a Mobberly Avenue that is inviting for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as autos. This street renovation will encourage redevelopment on the street. It's good for all our neighbors.

The mayor and city council already know my opinion. Would you please let them know of your support?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Living Testimonies of God's Grace

We are just over week away from Spring commencement, and while every graduation day is filled with wonderful stories of achievement and God's grace, this graduation day features a student story I will never forget.

Maria Alchammas arrived here from Syria in 2013, and next week, she will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in biology. As their home country fell into war, Maria's father sent his daughters, son and wife out of the country to save them. Maria and her siblings were enrolled in a Catholic school in Damascus; a school that became a bombing target for radical Muslim terrorists that had invaded Syria. As a young girl, Maria saw church friends murdered. Each day, every decision to shop or go to church or visit family was done in fear of a car bomb or a terrorist shooter in a public place.

Maria's parents made the difficult decision to send their children far away to save their lives. As Maria left for the U.S., the family had real doubt they would ever be together again.

Maria's mother and their youngest child were able to follow Maria into the U.S., but Maria's father, who was a dentist, was repeatedly denied a visa to leave.

Over the years, many of us prayed with Maria that her father would soon be reunited with their family. Each day of her years studying at LETU, Maria would wake to check the death reports from Syria, fearing the worst for her father.

Just a few months ago, the U.S. awarded Maria's father asylum, and he has joined his family in Longview. It's an answer to prayer, and it came in time for him to see his daughter graduate.

As Syrian Christians, this family has horrors to tell. But, they now also have a testimony of God's grace in bringing them all back together again and safely away from danger. Thank you LETU for standing with Maria during these difficult years of her life. What was meant for evil in Syria, God will turn into good for Maria and her family and their new life in Texas.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Critical Need: Aviators of Excellence & Character

I enjoyed meeting today with our Aviation Advisory Council. It is noteworthy that this meeting of industry leaders is occurring just days after the tragic death on a Southwest Airlines flight en route from New York to Dallas. See the New York Times story here.

Dean Fred Ritchey has assembled a distinguished advisory council. They represent organizations such as American Airlines, Boeing, Cessna, Covington Aircraft, Dynamic Aviation, the FAA, FedEx Express, JAARS, MAF, Rockwell Collins, United Airlines and more.

So much of what happened earlier this week on Southwest Flight 1380 has captured my attention. I'm so very sad for the family of Jennifer Riordan, a young mother of two, who was killed by engine debris that entered the cabin at her seat on the 17th row. I'm encouraged at how fellow passengers, strangers really, responded with unselfish and deliberate aid to Jennifer while the plane was still in rapid descent.

And there is Captain Tammie Jo Shults, a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University and the Navy's first female to fly the F/A-18 fighter plane. Her professional and competent handling of the emergency, as well as her authentic compassion for her passengers, is very inspiring. It's God-honoring.

I'm so very proud that Dean Ritchey and his faculty prepare professionals of this same caliber. Aviation professionals do take responsibility for thousands of lives when they go to their workplaces daily. Nearly 2 million passengers fly each day just in the U.S., and worldwide today, more than 100,000 airline flights are scheduled. That's much responsibility on these airframe and power technicians, flight controllers, aviation managers, and, of course, pilots. And then there are the engineers behind the design of an aircraft that can suffer the loss of an engine and a large hole in the fuselage and still return passengers to the ground safely from 30,000 feet.

This world needs aviation professionals who are professionals of both competence and character.

For the sake of millions who fly daily, we need to graduate a new generation of aviation professionals who will see their work as a holy calling with eternal impact.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Welcoming Special Visitors to Campus this Spring

The Board of Trustees are on campus today for the Spring meeting. These men and women have come from across the United States to provide leadership to LETU and the cause of Christian higher education. It's my privilege to work with such a distinguished group of individuals with very different talents, united by a common appreciation for the work we do here at LETU.

The Trustees are just the latest in a series of visitors we've hosted recently.

I was very proud that the university hosted yesterday's free Holocaust remembrance event, sponsored by our Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. The event attracted hundreds of students from local middle schools and high schools, as well as many other members of the Longview community, to hear from Holocaust expert Dr. Carrie Burns and Holocaust survivor family members Vicki and Richard Hornok. Our students and guests were able to hear important lectures and testimonies about the inhumanity that led to the death of over six million Jews leading up to World War II. Public events like this help educate the community to ensure that atrocities like this never recur.

Over the weekend during LETU Homecoming, one of our distinguished guests was Greg Sankey, the commissioner of the Southeast Conference (SEC), whom Forbes magazine describes as one of the most powerful men in college sports. He attended LETU, played baseball, and was transformed by the relationships he built here. He spoke of playing baseball for LETU, and how his former LETU coach Roger Kieffer helped him learn important, life-changing lessons about leadership and being a good team player.

Another group of visitors to campus recently were the inductees into the new LeTourneau University Academy of Engineering and Engineering Technology. This distinguished group of LETU Engineering alumni are too many to list here, but include Donald Bell, the Chief Engineer at Pratt and Whitney Canada; Dale Hill, the founder of Proterra, the leading manufacturer of electric powered bus vehicles; Michael Kessler, the dean of engineering at North Dakota State University; and Stan Settles, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.

I appreciate that in the last two weeks, it has taken an army to plan, host and welcome these special visitors to campus, and I'm very grateful for each of you who have been involved. Each visitor is a testimony to how our service to God here at LETU stretches into many workplaces and touches many lives around the world.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Impact of Christian Higher Education

Christian higher education makes a huge impact on our world, and a new study from a Philadelphia-based consulting firm has calculated the annual economic impact of Christian higher education at around $60 billion annually.

The study was commissioned by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, of which LeTourneau University is a member. The study found that the 142 Christian colleges and universities across the country educate 445,000 students, employ 72,000 faculty and staff and serve 3.5 million alumni around the world.

Key findings of the national CCCU study reported that for every $1 in federal grant money a student receives, CCCU institutions provide $5 in aid to that student through grants and scholarships. LETU alone provides nearly $16.5 million annual in institutional scholarship aid, including a new dual-credit scholarship for $16,000 for high school students who attend LETU after taking dual-credit courses.

The student loan default rate among students at Christian colleges and universities is nearly half the national average. Even though CCCU schools are tax exempt, they still generate $9.7 billion in federal tax revenue each year. For every $1 in federal grant money a student receives, CCCU institutions generate more than $20 in federal tax revenue.

The report also showed that 1 in 3 CCCU students are first-generation college students and half of them come from families making less than $50,000 annually.

More than 1 in 3 CCCU students do community service while enrolled in college, and CCCU students perform an estimated 5.4 million hours of community service annually. To read the entire CCCU report, visit:

But beyond the economic impact, Christian institutions like LeTourneau University have a profound effect on the lives of our students as they discern their vocation, advance their faith and integrate their faith and their work in every workplace and in every nation where God may call them to serve.

The value proposition is clear: LETU graduates get jobs and an excellent return on the investment they've made in a college education.

We are a private university, but we do much public good. We graduate classroom teachers, nurses, law enforcement officials, and mental health counselors who contribute to the welfare of our communities. We graduate builders who create jobs with their innovative ideas. And we contribute to the quality of life of East Texas through the Belcher Center, NCAA sports, and in ministries and churches.

LETU employs over 870 faculty and staff, mostly in Longview, but also including those at locations in the Dallas and Houston areas, as well as online faculty who can teach from anywhere. We contribute to the local economy daily through shopping at local retailers, restaurants and more.

In the past decade, we have made more than $54.1 million in capital improvements which have added more than 177,000 square feet to university facilities, with many of the construction being done by local workers and craftsmen. Our students have made an impact on this area through volunteering nearly 69,000 community service hours each year, and our counseling center has provided more than 8,700 counseling sessions since it opened in October 2013. Many of those sessions provided counseling to local members of the East Texas community on a reduced fee scale to assist those needing financial assistance for counseling services.

I am proud of the work of our university and the role it plays in educating the next generation. As the Christian Polytechnic University, we are an international university that attracts students from East Texas, from around the U.S.A. and from around the world. Our significant impact for God's kingdom will only increase in the years to come.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Joining the King's Work this Easter Season

Did you see the photo this week in the Longview News-Journal? 150 children were on campus to hunt Easter eggs at the invitation of LeTourneau Student Ministries.

I loved seeing the sea of energetic kids representing the wonderful diversity of our Longview community. I was happy to see our students speak of Jesus and a reason for the season that goes well beyond eggs and treats.

Another special Holy Week and Easter has arrived.

I've been reading again about how Jesus spent the last week of his earthly walk. He continued to teach, and his parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew has been my focus:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner...but they paid no attention..." (Matthew 22:2-5)
Rejection hurts. It hurts even God. He is like a king who has prepared a great celebration but many ignore his invitation to come and share in the feast. The king's disappointment becomes anger, and his justice ultimately prevails. In the end, many are invited, but few are chosen to join the king's celebration.

In reading this parable anew, what has stopped me is the king's response to ignored invitations. He sends his servants to tell the people to come, and when the invitation is ignored, what does the king do? He sends more servants to give more invitations: "Then he sent some more servants..."

Our heavenly King has promised a great and eternal celebration with Him. The invitations have been made and the servants have been sent out to deliver the invitation. And even today, God wants to send out more servants to share the Good News of a risen Jesus.

Our mission at LeTourneau University is to join the King in that work: to prepare a new generation of servants to deliver more invitations to every workplace and every nation. The time of invitation will end someday and those who accept the invitation will join the King in his eternal banquet. But, until that day comes, let's pray that God will continue to use LETU to share his invitation. He hasn't given up on this world yet. Let's not give up either because we have Good News to share: He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Impact of Spring Break Ministry

Tuesday afternoon, March 13, in the parking lot of the Island Baptist Church on South Padre Island, God moved.

God used LETU students to make an impact for Christ as they encircled a South Padre Island police officer, laid their hands on him and prayed for his family, his safety, and the safety of the other public servants that week who would be patrolling the beaches throughout Spring Break.

The officer thanked the students, expressing gratitude for Beach Reach and their help keeping people safe and off the roads.

Beach Reach on South Padre Island, Texas, is one of the LeTourneau Student Ministries spring break mission trips that enables our students to provide a Christian witness to fellow college students, serving free pancake breakfasts, providing safe rides for those who drink alcohol and party all night, and sharing the Gospel with others during spring break when the island is overflowing with young people.

After that police officer drove off, he later admitted that he was so moved that he had to pull over to wipe the tears from his eyes over the blessing he received from the students praying over him. He said the rest of his night shift was "different." He had a peace and calm in him that was "different." He said he felt the spirit falling on him in that moment when the students prayed for him.

So much was he moved that the next day, he returned and brought back several others for prayer-about 40 city officials, officers, lifeguards and other first responders. The officer specifically asked for our LETU students who had prayed for him the day before.

The city officials expressed their gratitude for what Beach Reach students were doing, then the students all joined together and prayed over the city officials. God was at work.

And while LETU's Spring Break 2018 Beach Reach is over, God is still at work as our students continue to pray for those they met, gave rides to, shared the gospel with, ate pancakes with and prayed with.

I am grateful for these students, and for all of our other LETU students who went on the other nine LSM Spring Break mission trips, for their faithfulness in building a better future, one heart at a time.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Flying High: A Spring of Progress & Excellence

LeTourneau University is flying high this spring! Our LETU Men's Basketball team just finished another year of breaking school records. Their 24-5 record is the most wins by a LETU team. They are for the second year in a row the ASC East Division champions. They made the very first NCAA Championship Tournament appearance for a LeTourneau basketball team. They finished Saturday night only one basket away from the "Sweet 16." Head coach Dan Miller described the players as unselfish, with each contributing to the season like a family. Kudos to head basketball coach Dan Miller and his team.

Our School of Aviation is also flying high with two brand new Piper Seminole twin-engine airplanes. These new aircraft represent a $1.5 million investment in our aviation program. A beautiful LETU paint job that bears part of our globe and cross on the tail insures these planes will certainly stand-out as they fly across our region.

Sometimes we put people in the air with aircraft, and sometimes we put them in the air with a pole! Our new LETU Track and Field athletes are flying high in their inaugural indoor track and field season. Freshman pole vaulter Alex Hindman qualified for the NCAA Division III National Indoor Championships in Alabama this weekend. His qualifying vault of 15 feet-8 ¼ inches, Alex becomes the first track and field athlete in LETU history to compete for an NCAA championship. Another freshman, Austin Parrish, joined Alex in finishing first and second in our region in pole vault and are the first two All-Region honorees in program history. Kudos to Coach Don Hood and his athletes. What a way for LETU Track and Field to begin!

Sometimes the goal is to launch people 15 feet into the air, and sometimes it's launching something into orbit, which is what the LETSAT student satellite project is doing by advancing the future of spacecraft by creating the next generation of smart satellites. A group of about 25 engineering students and Byron Lictenberg from the engineering faculty is working to launch a Cubesat satellite with artificial intelligence hardware into low earth orbit. The hardware and software teams are working on developing a satellite that can use something similar to "facial recognition" software to identify its location in orbit based on artificial intelligence. Satellites aren't new but smart AI satellites are a new technology and it's impressive to see our students doing this work. You can learn more at:

I'm really proud of these faculty and students.

The wisdom of our faith from Isaiah 40:31 says much about flying: "...but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles..."

It's important to enjoy the flying, but before the flying comes the waiting, hoping, trusting and working. It's something we see every day at LETU.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Honoring the Legacy of Rev. Billy Graham

"America's Pastor" the Rev. Billy Graham died a week ago. Yesterday, the nation honored him as the first religious leader to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington. President Trump described Graham as "an ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God's grace." May such be said of all of us at LeTourneau University!

Billy Graham was the most significant religious figure of the 20th century. He preached the gospel to an estimated 215 million in his lifetime, according to media sources this week. Decades of his faithful service to preaching the gospel have led to untold numbers of decisions for Christ.

Billy Graham didn't just belong to the nation; he belonged to LeTourneau University.

There was a unique friendship between Graham and R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau. As many people know, the LeTourneaus put 90% of their corporation stock into a foundation to support Christian work around the world. Funds from that foundation enabled Evelyn to establish Camp Bethany in Winona Lake, Indiana, where a young Billy Graham worked as camp counselor. A friendship formed.

As World War II was ending in 1946 and the LeTourneaus launched their manufacturing plant in Longview, Texas, and began the LeTourneau Technical School to educate returning war veterans, the young Rev. Billy Graham was drawing huge crowds to Youth For Christ rallies as YFC's first paid evangelist.

The young evangelist came up short in 1947 on finances, and he reached out to R.G. LeTourneau to ask for $7,000 to provide the finances he needed to finish his European tour. Not only did LeTourneau provide a cashier's check a few weeks later, he flew overseas to attend one of the meetings in Birmingham, England. LeTourneau would become a supporter of Graham's evangelism rallies for years thereafter.

In a 1953 letter from Graham to Evelyn LeTourneau, he wrote. "I love you and Mr. R.G. more than any two people in the world," describing the LeTourneau's as "more like a father and mother to me."

Later that year, R.G. LeTourneau designed a domed structure for Billy Graham to use as for revival meetings during his upcoming speaking campaign in Great Britain. In a letter from the Billy Graham Crusade Committee dated in May of 1953, the structure was referred to as "the Billy Graham Crusade tabernacle." While it never was used for its original purpose due to problems with the London city council, the domed structure went on to be used for several years for graduation ceremonies for LeTourneau Technical School students. It stands in south Longview to this day, at the Longview plant now owned by Komatsu.

From 1961 to 1975, Graham served on the LeTourneau College Board of Trustees. He was a featured speaker at the college's 25th anniversary in 1971. Graham was a supporter of faith-based education, and his own son, Franklin Graham, attended school at LeTourneau.

Franklin was back in Longview and on campus just this last October 19th. As the nation mourns Billy Graham, we pray for Franklin and family and their very personal loss.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Campus Improvements: Lighting the Way for Future Savings

LeTourneau University recently updated our campus lighting all across campus to install environmentally friendly LED lighting. Congratulations to LETU Vice President for Finance and Administration Mike Hood and Assistant Vice President for Facilities Services Ben Haywood for their initiative, project management and success on a job well done!

LETU's lighting upgrades included installing new LED head fixtures on all existing street, sidewalk and parking lot poles, along with the bell tower flood lights, the Solheim gymnasium lights, Belcher gymnasium lights, natatorium lights and tennis and volleyball court lights.

Besides durability, rapid cycling, instant on, and increased brightness, these new LEDs across campus use about 50% less energy.

The financial benefit to the university amounts to electrical savings of over $55,000 per year from this year forward. Those energy cost savings pay for the initial upgrade charges within seven years, with the LED lights projected to last maintenance free for 14+ years.

The timing of the conversion to LEDs was right, since SWEPCO offered a $23,400 rebate to us for installing more efficient lighting at a time when their rates jumped between 7.5% and 13 % this January.

The switch to LEDs also lowers our labor and maintenance costs and lift rental costs that were required for changing light bulbs on campus.

Our new LED lights enable us to reduce our usage, allowing our electrical supplier to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, along with lowering carbon dioxide emissions.

The trend across the country is for universities to reduce the need for fossil fuels. Harvard University recently announced it plans to be fossil fuel neutral by 2026 and fossil fuel free by 2050. Other universities that also have converted to LEDs include Belmont College in Ohio, Howard University in Washington and Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. University of Maryland is currently developing an energy efficiency project that includes LED lighting upgrades.

Areas of campus that previously were not as well-lit are now much improved, such as at the tennis courts that now have almost double the lighting level for our teams and those who play tennis in the evenings.

But of all of the improvements we have seen from these LED lights, I believe the greatest improvement was to our sidewalks and walkways all across campus. A well-lit campus is more appealing and safer for our students, faculty, staff and guests.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Foundation Funded Microscope Furthers Research

The collaborative effort of several of our LeTourneau University faculty has resulted in LETU receiving a significant $250,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation for the purchase of a new Scanning Electron Microscope.

The new SEM will benefit students across several disciplines, including materials joining, civil engineering, biology and chemistry.

This new SEM will allow LETU faculty and students the ability to see objects that are thousands of times smaller than what we can see with the naked eye. The addition of this new equipment enables us to modernize our existing courses in materials sciences as well as in biology and chemistry. It will provide our students practical experience using this equipment on research and projects that they can add to their resumes.

The SEM provides three-dimensional imaging that has a wide range of practical research, industrial and commercial applications. They can be used in welding metallurgy to find deformities in welds that would be otherwise undetectable. They also can be used in biology and chemistry to enable students to see individual viruses. In industry, the they are used for inspecting things like semiconductors for quality control on the production line in manufacturing microchips for computers.

LETU's collaborative grant proposal has resulted in a successful award that will have a significant impact on ongoing research projects.

Thank you to Darryl Low in engineering for his efforts as lead in writing the grant proposal, along with other LETU faculty including Yoni Adonyi (emeritus), Richard Baumer, Paul Boggs, Gary DeBoer, Dave Dittenber, Wes Downing, Vivian Fernand and Greg Frederick for the work they all did to help secure the funding.

Their contributions to show how the grant would have a broad impact on students is a key component that resulted in LETU being awarded the grant.

Plans are for the new equipment to be purchased and installed in the Kielhorn Lab on campus this semester and ready to be tested by summer and used for a variety of projects this fall. Access to the SEM and appropriate training will be open to all interested LETU faculty, supporting research and education across departments.

We are grateful for the Keck Foundation for their generous support and for how it will impact students for years to come. 


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Christian Higher Education: Where God is King

Last week, I attended the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities 2018 International Forum near Dallas, the largest gathering of Christian higher education professionals.

A LeTourneau University delegation joined campus leaders from 180-plus CCCU member schools from around the nation and the world. Campus presidents, academic and student affairs leaders, technology and financial leaders, alumni relations and public relations professionals, among others were there.

This diverse group all shares a mission to give students the opportunity for a Christ-centered higher education.

The purpose of the Forum was to engage in discussions, share perspectives and experience, build relationships, identify challenges, collaborate on solutions and be equipped to prepare for the future of Christian higher education. A host of dynamic and diverse speakers provided challenging insights for us to consider.

Sessions covered issues of faith integration and formation and how we can best prepare our students to pursue biblical truth in their lives. Breakout sessions gave opportunities for sharing best practices and creative innovations to meet a wide variety of challenges our institutions face. Discussions examined demographic, technological, legal and cultural forces impacting the work of our institutions and how we can best respond.

It was also a time of spiritual enrichment.

We began each day with thought-provoking devotionals from Andy Crouch. Jim Denison reminded us that the underlying narrative of the gospel is that God is a king, not merely a Sunday morning hobby.

Today's culture has separated our worship on Sunday from our work on Monday mornings, and turned the Bible into merely a collection of religious stories. Denison encouraged us each to love God with all our hearts, souls, mind and strength. God must be our King, not our hobby.

Our commitment as leaders in Christian higher education is to create a higher education where Christ and the spiritual formation of our students is central.

Students who love God with all of their hearts, souls, minds and strength -- as their king -- is our measure of success. As we do, His kingdom will come, His will can be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is our place of ministry.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Next Steps: The Leading Christian Business School

LETU School of Business Dean Dr. Van Graham has assembled a school advisory council, and it was my pleasure to meet with the group this week. Input from alumni, employers and civic leaders is essential in crafting a vision for the future growth of our business school.

We are unique as the only university founded by a Christian business professional. Mr. R.G. LeTourneau's life is the ultimate story of faith and business. We offer students an eternal perspective on work. We offer employers a business school graduate of both competence and character.

Business programs are important to LETU. 373 students are studying business with us. That is about 17% of our total degree-seeking student body. Business students represent significant numbers in our residential and global programs and both our undergraduate and graduate programs.

As in past years, business administration remains the most popular field of study for college students. Nationally, 364,000 students earned undergraduate degrees in business in 2015. As a point of comparison, 98,000 engineering bachelor degrees were awarded. The same is true for graduate students. The MBA is the most popular graduate program, representing one of every four graduate degrees awarded.

Serving on the advisory committee are Citizens National Bank Vice President Greg Colquitt, Henry & Peters President Jana K. Broussard, Texas Bank and Trust Senior Vice President Craig Chaikin, and Martin Resource Management Executive Vice President and General Counsel Chris Booth.

I'm grateful for their input and encouragement to advance the business school.

Our calling is to build the leading business school in Christian higher education. Going from good to great is our next step.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Rebuilding After Harvey: God's Provision

In late August, Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas Gulf Coast causing at least $125 billion in damage, widespread flooding, and severe economic hardship for many families. Harvey made history as the costliest storm on record.

We have an education center in Houston, and many LETU students live in Houston and the Gulf Coast region. Among our residential students, many of their families back home were hit hard by Harvey.

To help with tuition assistance for LETU students impacted by Hurricane Harvey, LETU set up a Hurricane Harvey scholarship fund. Many generous friends of the university have donated to the fund.

To date, more than $12,000 in aid has been awarded. These funds enabled these students to return this semester, students who might otherwise not have been able to continue their college education.

One such student, a senior civil engineering major from Houston, said she found it difficult last fall to focus on school when she knew her parents' family business that they had built since the 1980s had flooded and they lost all their files, their equipment, their furniture--and their steady income.

"There was a very high chance we could not afford for me to finish the semester," she said. "Luckily they had enough savings to finish helping me pay for last semester, but it was going to be quite difficult to afford the spring semester."

That's where the LETU Hurricane Harvey scholarship made a difference.

"I had been wondering what God would do to provide," she said. "He had provided quite a bit of gifts from my coworkers, church, my parents' clients, as well as my fellow students in the Honors College here at LeTourneau."

Once she applied for the scholarship and was interviewed by LETU's Student Life Office, she learned she had received a scholarship.

"It took about a week to sink in that this semester was going to work out," she said.

"The community of God has been revealed to me in a whole new way over these last few months as I have seen how so many people have trusted God and shared his love with my family," she said. "I have learned that LETU is truly a Christ-based and trusting university. They are people of God who want to share his love and be a strong community to support each other."

To those who have donated to the fund, I thank you, and the students whose lives have been blessed thank you.

Just recently, I received an email from the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT) that LETU is receiving an additional grant to be used as emergency aid for students impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

It will take time for those hurt by Harvey to rebuild. I thank God that LETU can be a part of easing the burden for our students and their families during that process.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

YellowJacket Athletics: A Strong Start to 2018

This past week, LeTourneau University has had its share of history-making moments, the most recent of which was closing ALL of our offices statewide for two consecutive days, due to the arctic blast that dropped snow and dangerous icy road conditions across the state. It is good to be back today.

Our decision last year to expand our athletics program to include track and field for both men and women made history Friday with our first track meet--where 7 YellowJacket women and 12 YellowJacket men combined to set 13 inaugural school records.

Freshman track and field athletes Ro Galloway and Austin Parrish earned the first American Southwest Conference track honors in school history, being named Field Athletes of the Week for their performances at the Leonard Hilton Memorial Invitational in Houston, Texas on January 12.

Galloway, a nursing major from Texarkana, Texas, recorded a long jump of 14 feet-10.75 inches and ran the 60-meter-dash in 8.42 seconds, setting two initial school records.

Parrish, a kinesiology major from Carthage, Texas, cleared 14 feet-1.25 inches in the pole vault in his first collegiate track meet, earning a spot in the top eight.

LETU track and field coach Don Hood said he was pleased with our athletes' efforts. Their next competition will be Friday, Jan. 26, at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Then on Saturday, I had the privilege of dedicating the new seating in the Solheim Arena between the Women's and Men's basketball games. The upgraded bleachers and chair-back seating in our Solheim Arena have made a remarkable difference in the quality and comfort of the facility.

Watching the women's and men's teams play was a joy from the comfort of chair back seats, surrounded by my family, who were all there for the game to cheer on the YellowJackets.

We are grateful to all of those who have contributed to make improvements to our athletic facilities and our programs, and many joined Athletic Director Terri Deike and me for a short reception in the Stuedler Lounge after the dedication.

At Saturday's men's basketball game, Nate West, a business major from Houston, scored a career-high 28 points in the YellowJackets' 80-63 win against University of Texas-Dallas. West was named the ASC East Division Co-player of the week for his performance.

The YellowJackets' next home basketball games are coming at 2 p.m. (women) and 4 p.m. (men) Saturday, Jan. 20, at Solheim Center against Louisiana College.

I hope we will all make it a point to attend more games and support our athletes as we enjoy these beautiful blue upgraded seats and bleachers for years to come.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Our 'Star Over Longview'

Today, it was a joy to celebrate Gerrie Forbis, who was honored at the 2018 Stars Over Longview Award Ceremony and Luncheon at Maude Cobb Convention Center. Gerrie works in our office as an executive administrative assistant to the provost and is a remarkable resource for all of us with her institutional knowledge.

Longview Regional Medical Center and the Women's Advisory Council honors 12 women each year who "generously share their time, talents and loyalty to our community and its citizens." That's our Gerrie.

The hospital publishes an annual Stars Over Longview calendar featuring one of its stars for each month of the year. Our Gerrie is the centerfold as July's Star of the Month.

Gerrie's community service work dates back to the 1970s as a member of the Evening Pilot Club of Longview and later the Longview Pilot Club, serving on projects to benefit the community and serving in several leadership capacities in both clubs. One of her projects was helping establish an organization to assist families with children who had epilepsy. A Leadership Longview alumna, Gerrie has served as chair of the New Member Committee of the Longview Chamber of Commerce and also has served on the board of the Longview Community Theatre. In her 51 years working at LeTourneau University, Gerrie has worked with all but the first of the university's presidents.

The event featured guest speaker Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who shared her childhood experience with a community center of volunteers who became a big part of her life. She knows firsthand how important it is to give back to the community. She congratulated the recipients and encouraged us all to be involved in serving the community with the gifts and talents God has provided.

Surrounded by family members and many of her LeTourneau University family, Gerrie shined as the star that we all know that she is. Congratulations, Gerrie!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy 2018, Everyone!

Each new year is a gift from God: a new opportunity to glorify God in our daily work.

Can one glorify God through improving factory tools? Norm Reese's engineering students are learning this is true. Today's Longview News Journal newspaper featured the Frontier Wheelchairs Team and the work they recently did to streamline wheelchair construction at a Hope Haven International factory in Antiqua, Guatemala.

Our students repaired wheelchairs, built therapy bars for patients to use in therapy, built fixtures, and built a hydraulic press to enable factory workers to do their work more efficiently, even after our students left to come home. The factory can now build better wheelchairs with less labor. See the LNJ story here.

Let's be sure to pray for each other. We are in the midst of a terrible flu outbreak in East Texas. My daughter Hannah is one of the many diagnosed with the flu. She's a nurse and informs me East Texas is tops in the nation in flu occurrences.

Flu season, which usually starts in January and even as late as February, has hit early this year. School districts before Christmas--like White Oak ISD--and now this week--like Sunnyvale ISD--have canceled classes due to a high level of flu-related absences.

And many here at LETU have been hit by the flu.

Students in both our residential and global programs will be starting classes again Monday, January 8. We can all do our part to help avoid spreading the flu. Frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizer can help. Avoiding close contact with people who have flu symptoms is a good practice, as is using disinfecting wipes on surfaces that might harbor germs-from doorknobs, faucets and telephones to your own computer mouse and keyboard. If you come down with the flu, stay home until you recover. We will miss your company, but we'd rather not share your germs.

Welcome to 2018 everyone, and may God bless our work and keep us healthy.