Office of the President

Hello! Welcome to the LeTourneau University Web site. Spend some time here, and imagine yourself as part of the unique LeTourneau experience.

Want a comprehensive university? We offer more than 85 academic programs for both graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of fields.

Want something more than just sitting in class and taking notes? At LeTourneau University, it is our vision for every student to impact the world for Christ in every workplace and every nation. Our programs provide students with real life, problem-solving opportunities through internships, co-ops and design projects. Our students travel the world each year on mission projects that are life changing.

Want programs that fit your busy life? Are you an adult going back to college? We offer online and on-ground degree completion programs so you can finish your degree in a format that works for you.

It is our desire to glorify and honor God by integrating faith, learning and living that sets LeTourneau University apart.

I look forward to meeting you!


Office of the President



Mailing Address
Office of the President
LeTourneau University
P.O. Box 7001
Longview, Texas 75607


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LeTourneau University President

Is Your Attitude Contagious?
I read recently about "mirror neurons" while preparing for a talk I had been asked to give on leadership. Do you know of this from neurology research? It explains why we yawn when we see someone else yawn (See that research here.)

It may also explain that our emotions and attitudes are contagious too. That's something to think about as we encounter each other and our students many times a day.

One well known hotel chain understands this. They developed what they call a "10/5 policy." When a hotel staff member passes within 10 feet of a guest, they are to make eye contact and smile. When a hotel staff member passes within 5 feet of a guest, they are to smile and say hello.

t may sound trivial, but when a large hospital system implemented the same policy, they experienced an increase in employee and patient satisfaction; even an increase in health outcomes.

I heard it again recently: visitors always find LETU a friendly place. I pray our good natures will continue to be contagious to all we meet.

On another note, many of you know that my administrative assistant Vanessa Hutchinson resigned recently to move to Houston. She was a great asset to me for six years and is missed each day. Today I'm happy to report that Denise Bailey has a greed to become the new Administrative Assistant to the President.

Denise has been at LETU nearly 10 years and currently serves as assistant to Dean Matthew Henry. She'll start in the Office of the President on Monday, Sept. 8, and will be a great asset to the university. I know Denise's good attitude is contagious to all around her.

Posted by Sara Shipley

Returning to Campus at LETU
College campuses have always been special places to me. As I returned to our campus Monday,  that familiar sense of appreciation for the campus flooded over me.   I'm happy to be back.

I am grateful to Dr. Coyle for his leadership in my absence. He and Mike Hood are valuable assets to LETU and friends to me, personally. I'm excited to be back working alongside them daily.

Although just back, I'm already traveling again. Today I'm in Indianapolis at the offices of the NCAA. I have been appointed to the President's Advisory Council for NCAA's Division III. My first meeting with this group is today.

LETU is proud to be a member of the NCAA. Our own Athletic Director Terri Deike has already been serving on an important NCAA national committee. Just this summer, LETU's baseball team earned our first NCAA post-season appearance in a team sport. Our student athletes in golf and cross country in the past have also competed in NCAA championships.

NCAA is so much more than the "big football schools" seen most often in the news. Most NCAA campuses are like LETU -- places where amateur sport is still the goal and 'student' is still the most important part of being a 'student athlete.'  I've come to understand our courts and sports fields are our biggest classrooms on campus.  When done correctly, intercollegiate athletics yields valuable learning outcomes for our students. 

Posted by Sara Shipley

Meeting with Leadership Longview
Does the name John Wooden mean anything to you?  He was the only man elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach.  He did something that will likely never be repeated:  as coach of UCLA, he won seven consecutive national championships in men's basketball. 

Can you imagine completing your "March Madness brackets" predicting one school to win the championship seven years in a row!  John Wooden's teams did it.

When Leadership Longview met on our campus today and asked me to speak, I was eager to share the leadership wisdom of Coach Wooden who died in 2010 at the age of 99.  He is a hero of mine:  A humble Christian who only wanted to be remembered as a teacher.

In his Pyramid of Success, Wooden described the two cornerstones of success as industriousness and enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm is a joy in your work that ignites the willingness to work hard in a reaction of energy that makes the pursuit of success possible.  Think about it:  these were the traits of our university founder.  We all know those around us who love coming to work each day and never fear working hard.  I have seen that on display in the opening of the new Allen Family Student Center.  I'm so thankful for how our staff came together to open the facility early so our students could enjoy it before they leave for summer.  It was amazing!

I left the group today with one of my favorite quotes attributed to Coach Wooden: "Early on I came to believe that you should learn as if you were going to live forever, and live as if you were going to die tomorrow."  He always said to keep learning especially after you had decided you already knew it all.  That's wisdom that goes beyond the basketball court to all of us in the daily pursuit of success.

Posted by Sara Shipley

Opening the New Student Center
The new Anna Lee and Sidney Allen Family Student Center ribbon cutting Monday was a historic day for LeTourneau University and a day of reflection for me.  

We were blessed with good weather and smart planning so that construction on the building was completed three months ahead of schedule, which gave us the opportunity to open it up in time for our current seniors to enjoy the building before they graduate in May.

The focus this week has been creating opportunity for all to "see" the new building. And it was fun to watch the students get their first look.

The buzz of energy was evident as the students explored the building for the first time, with the aid of student tour guides and creative "passports" they had stamped in 10 locations around the building as a way to familiarize themselves with all the amenities in the building. Those passports turned into entry forms for lucky prize drawing winners.   
But just as important is what the students do not see as they enjoy the center. They won't see the university's leaders who more than 20 years ago planned and prayed for a campus community facility like this. They won't see the student leaders who have already graduated who were involved from the beginning in designing what a unique LETU Student Center should be. This week we miss seeing the hundreds of alumni and friends who made financial sacrifices so that this building could be built. Invisible this week are the men and women who toiled to pour four million pounds of concrete foundation and on top of that build 60,000 square feet of structure. And, of course, we can't see what God will do with this building.  

As Christ followers, we understand that what we can see is often beautiful, but what is unseen is even more inspiring.
My higher education career is approaching 30 years and I've had the pleasure to be part of several new building dedications. It's a special experience here at LETU because I'm surrounded by those who see God at work in every brick, glass wall and fiber cable.  

What is seen is beautiful. What is unseen is our eternal joy.

I walked through the building late last night, and the Allen Family Student Center has already become a new "home away from home" for our students to gather, spend time together and build lasting relationships as they grow and learn here at LeTourneau University. If you haven't yet had the opportunity to see the new building, you should plan to come over and tour it for yourself. You will see how it is already making a huge impact on the quality of life of our students.

Posted by Sara Shipley

Beginning the Accreditation Reaffirmation Process
Our 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is coming up in the next few years, and work is getting started now. 

As a peer-reviewed process that confirms quality of the education our students receive, the accreditation process is vital to the future of LeTourneau University. 

It is a labor and time-intensive project, but one that affords us the opportunity to review and refine what we do and improve how we do it, as well as giving us opportunity to share the successes of the things God has done and is doing at LETU.
The reaffirmation process is focused on demonstrating that we as a university comply with the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement updated in 2012 and found on the SACS website.  The principles provide guidance to universities regarding standards colleges must meet concerning education, governance, faculty, support services, and library, physical and financial resources.

I have commissioned a Reaffirmation Team to conduct an internal audit on our ability to document compliance to these principles. Dr. Stephanie Kirschmann, John Lommel, and Dr. Pam Johnson will be leading our reaffirmation efforts. They began work in February.  Lommel has begun meeting with all of the departments concerning areas that specifically need to be mindful of compliance. Our onsite visit from SACS will occur in Spring 2016, with our 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation decision expected in December 2016.  A detailed timeline can be found on our website.

Assuring that we are accomplishing our mission is key to the reaffirmation process.  As a result, we will be reviewing our mission statement as a part of this work. It's the beginning of the process of updating our strategic plan as our current plan was meant to guide us to 2015. 

Much of this process focuses on institutional improvement, which will require that we develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that focuses specifically on how we can improve the education and learning experience of our students.  As a Christ-centered university, we want to do and be the best that we can be, to the glory of God.

Over the next several months, we will be gathering broad-based input from our constituencies-including students, faculty staff and alumni-with our LETU Teaching Faculty Organization leading the development of potential QEP plans.  Several topics will be considered and one will be selected by the President's Cabinet  in February 2015.  The full plan will then be developed and we will submit it to the onsite team as early as October 2015.  It will be a key portion of our onsite SACS review in Spring of 2016.  The implementation timeline will be driven by the topic selected, but is likely to begin in Fall of 2016.

The QEP and SACSCOC reaffirmation of accreditation cause us to reflect, review policies, identify weaknesses and determine action steps for the future to sharpen us as a university.

Posted by Sara Shipley

LeTourneau Aviation Art Show
Did you notice how our university reached out to touch the community this past week? In transforming our Abbott Center into an art gallery and demonstrating the compatibility of faith and science, LETU enriched the culture of East Texas.

Our students, faculty and staff have been showcasing some pretty impressive artistic talent this week during the 2nd annual Aviation Art Show at the Abbott Aviation Center.

Doubling in size from last year, more than 60 entries include media ranging from detailed penciled and shaded drawings of airplanes, to paintings and photographs so spectacular they seem three-dimensional. 

For a school that has its roots as a technical school, it is great to see this artistic expression from our students who have a passion for aviation. Kudos go to Phil Rispin and Molly Norwood for their work in making it all happen, and to Dean Fred Ritchey for his support of the art show.

The Longview News-Journal wrote a nice feature that appeared  in Monday's paper. You can see that here in case you missed it.  CBS 19 also came out Tuesday to help promote the event, and you can see that story here

Judging of the artwork takes place until noon on Friday, so if you get a chance to go by there, be sure to vote. 

Kudos also are well deserved by LETU faculty and organizers who were involved in the recent creation and evolution panel discussion following the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate. LETU faculty Wilson Cunha from theology and Karen Rispin from biology were joined by ETBU theology professor J. Warren Johnson to make up the panel discussion, which was moderated by Matthew Henry, our dean of innovative education. Organizers Gary DeBoer and Steve Ball were integral in getting the word out to make the event a great success. Kudos are also due to Dean Dr. Larry Frazier for his support. If you missed the media coverage you can read about it in the Longview News Journal or watch the story on KLTV.

Posted by Sara Shipley

Celebrating Engineers Week
This week of Feb. 16-22 is Engineers Week, a national event celebrating the engineering profession.

E- Week is a time to celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world. The focus on engineering helps increase public dialogue about engineering and the need for highly qualified engineers like those who graduate from LeTourneau University. The national focus also helps bring engineering to life for kids, parents and educators, as professional engineering groups offer scholarships to area students planning to pursue a degree in engineering.

In celebration of E-Week, LETU hosted the 53rd annual E-Week Banquet on our campus Tuesday night in the Solheim Arena.  About 200 professional engineers and engineering students attended.

I had the honor of introducing the banquet speaker, PING Golf CEO John Solheim.  As a young man, John chose to come to LeTourneau to study engineering.  He didn't stay long, however, because of the exciting prospect of working with his father on a revolutionary new golf putter. John has remained a leader in the LeTourneau Nation serving on our Board of Trustees since 1992.  His leadership at PING is a wonderful example for our students. He places an emphasis on engineering innovations, a respect for the game of golf, and a humility that can only come from an understanding of God's providence. 

Banquet Speaker John Solheim
John told the history of PING Golf and about how his father, Karsten Solheim, gleaned from each work experience the tools he needed to build his own business.

John shared that his father learned valuable lessons in quality and marketing from each of even his most early jobs, from working in a shoe shop to selling cookware door-to-door. He learned how customers viewed a low price as cheaper quality.  He learned about how to make sales one customer at a time. He later worked as an engineer at General Electric when he began making putters from his garage in 1959.

He knew about working with his hands, applying sales experience and retaining quality in mass production. 

Through each work experience and transition, no matter how humble, the Lord was preparing him for the future.

John also shared that last week was a particularly good week for PING, with Bubba Watson in the PGA, Kirk Triplett on the Seniors Tour and Karrie Webb won the LPGA Australian Open - all winning their tournaments with PING Clubs. 

Our world-class engineering program here at LETU is a direct result of the love for engineering of our university founder, R.G. LeTourneau, and his dedication to improving the world through the engineering profession. John Solheim is an inspiring example of Mr. LeTourneau's legacy. It is a privilege to carry on his vision and to celebrate engineering this week as we seek to claim every workplace in every nation for Christ.

Posted by Sara Shipley

Growing our Student Body: Local and International
LeTourneau enrolls students from all 50 states and more than 30 nations, and this week, some of our international students were featured in the local newspaper and on local television news about what they love about LETU.

We are exceptional in that we are truly a global university. While we intend to continue to grow that number, we also want more East Texas students to experience the same quality education that draws students from thousands of miles around the globe.

We know that the future of East Texas is in the dreams of our children. We also understand that a residential college experience offers a unique preparation for a life of professional  competence and Christlike character.

Therefore, we recently announced a new grant to help make a LeTourneau residential college experience more accessible for local East Texas students.

Our new "Future of East Texas" grant provides up to $4,500 per year, renewable for up to four years totaling $18,000, in additional tuition assistance for local East Texas students who want the residential college experience.

This new grant brings a quality LETU education within reach for many of our neighbors.

The grant applies to every residence hall on campus and is available only to first-time college students enrolling Fall 2014 whose home address falls within specific zip codes that include Longview, Tyler, Kilgore, Hallsville, Whitehouse, Lindale and other local cities. A list of zip codes and other information can be found on our website.

Designed specifically for students who plan to seek degrees offered in our School of Aeronautical Science, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business or School of Education, this grant requires students to maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average and remain a residential student in one of the eligible programs. Students who meet eligibility requirements are expected to write a brief essay on "How my dreams will make the future of East Texas brighter."

A limited number of grants are available.

You may know students in your neighborhood or in your church who would benefit from knowing about this grant. You can direct them to www.letu.edu/easttxgrant or have them call our Admissions Office at (903) 233-4300. I encourage you to tell them about it.

Posted by Sara Shipley

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.

Posted by Sara Shipley

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.
Posted by Sara Shipley

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