LeTourneau University

From Academic Kids

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LeTourneau University is a private Christian school in Longview, Texas. Founded as LeTourneau Technical Institute in February, 1946 by R.G. LeTourneau with his wife Evelyn, the school initially existed primarily to educate and provide work for veterans returning from World War II.


The University

R.G. LeTourneau founded LeTourneau Technical Institute in February, 1946 on the site of the recently-abandoned Harmon General Hospital, a World War II hospital specialized in treating syphilis. LeTourneau bought the site from the United States government with the help of Longview News publisher Carl Estes and other Longview community leaders for one dollar with the conditions that for the next 10 years, the United States government could reclaim the 156 acres (631,000 m²) and 220 buildings in the event of an emergency and no new construction or demolition could occur. The United States government also insisted that LeTourneau establish a vocational school for war veterans on the premises.

The State of Texas chartered the school on February 20, 1946, and classes were first held on April 1. At that point, enrollment at LeTourneau was exclusively male and predominantly veterans. For the first two years, LeTourneau provided an academy section to allow the completion of the junior and senior years of high school as well as a college section that offered two-year tradeskill programs and a four-year technology program. Students attended classes on alternating days; while one half of the students were in class, the other half worked at R.G. LeTourneau's LeTourneau Incorporated, thus satisfying the laboratory requirements of all of the industrial courses.

From 1946 to 1961, LeTourneau Technical Institute and LeTourneau, Inc. were one unified company under R.G. LeTourneau. In 1961, LeTourneau Technical Institute underwent a transformation into the co-educational LeTourneau College and began to offer bachelor's degrees in engineering, technology, and a limited number of arts and sciences. At this point, the college began to transition from the traditional wooden barracks buildings. The Tyler Hall Dormitory for men was erected in 1962, the Margaret Estes Library in 1963 and the Hollingsworth Science Hall in 1965.

The college continued to grow under the leadership of Allen C. Tyler in 1961 and 1962 and Richard E. LeTourneau (eldest son of R.G. and Evelyn) from 1962 to 1968. Harry T. Hardwick's presidency from 1968 to 1975 saw to the construction of the R.G. LeTourneau Memorial Student Center and the Longview Citizens Resource Center along with spearheading LeTourneau's accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Richard LeTourneau again assumed the presidency from 1975 to 1985, where he oversaw the accreditation of the school's mechanical and electrical engineering programs by the Engineer's Council for Professional Development (now the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) and supervised nine major construction projects, including the Trinity Dorms and the school's aviation facility at the Gregg County Airport. LeTourneau College became LeTourneau University under President Alvin O. Austin, who has served since 1986. President Austin has overseen the development of a MBA program and has seen to the removal of all wooden barracks from the campus, along with the construction of the Belcher Bell Tower, the Solheim Recreation and Activity Center, the Glaske Engineering Center, seven new dormitories, and the expansion to campuses in Houston, Dallas, Tyler, Austin and Bedford.

LeTourneau today

The school offers numerous undergraduate degrees, most of which are focused on engineering, aeronautics and computer science. The liberal arts, business and educational departments are slowly helping to round-out the largely techie (and male) student population. The school also offers extensive business and management graduate classes in Houston, Dallas, Tyler, Austin and Longview.


Most of its 1,500 traditional students live on campus, as the school requires all unmarried students under the age of 22 to live in dormitories or on-campus apartments. The campus itself is located on the "south side" (south of U.S. Highway 80, which divides the city in half) of Longview. While South Longview is home to a variety of neighborhoods, both in age and economic circumstance, LeTourneau is immediately surrounded on three out of four sides by very impoverished, very dilapidated neighborhoods, with the last being largely populated by school faculty and staff. The mostly Caucasian students generally interact well with it's mixture of African-American and Hispanic neighbors, but there have been a number of crime problems in recent years related to the bad neighborhoods that border LeTourneau.

Life At LeTourneau

The school's mascot is a yellowjacket and the colors are yellow and blue. Religious chapel attendance is mandatory, and held three times weekly. The school competes in the American Southwest Conference.

Short 5-10 minute devotions are held before each class by the professor or a student. The campus is completely networked, with 100-Mbit connections available nearly everywhere; convenient for an extremely tech-savvy (and demanding) student body attempting to fulfill the rigorous academic requirements.


Soccer, football, volleyball and basketball intramurals are highly valued. Somewhat unique to LeTourneau is the incredible amount of floor pride. Every floor in the dorms has its own student-created name, logo, and t-shirt. Floors often have rivalries and freshman "orientation" to build floor unity.

Other student activities

LeTourneau boasts many student-led foundations and a very active student senate. A portion of each student's tuition and fees is allocated to student senate each year to fund spring break mission trips, campus activities, clubs, and other projects as deemed worthy by the representative body (senate seats are allocated by residence hall or living area). The mandatory contribution to student senate has been a subject of debate in recent years, with many students questioning why their tuition dollars must support an organization from which they themselves may see nothing in return. The mandatory contribution is ultimately a de facto tax, and some resent their "tax dollars" being allocated to events such as clubs or fraternity retreats.

The Yellowjacket Activities Council (YAC), a university-sanctioned student events committee, is responsible for planning and supervising several recreational "student life" activities each semester. Concerts, midnight festivals, movies, paintball, and Valentine parties are among the activities organized by YAC.

The school emphasizes integrating Evangelical Christian teaching with higher education.

External links


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