Thu, Mar 8 2007
Dale A. Lunsford, Ph.D., 46, has been named the sixth president of LeTourneau University. The announcement was made today by Dr. Kenneth L. Hall, chair of the LETU Board of Trustees. Lunsford will succeed Dr. Alvin O. Austin, who has served for 21 years as president and will assume the title of chancellor.
Lunsford has served as vice president for Student Affairs and External Relations at the University of Texas at Tyler since 2002. He becomes LETU’s president July 1.
“After a nationwide search, the board of trustees confidently voted to name Dr. Lunsford as the man to lead the university into the future,” Hall said. “The presidential search committee feels strongly that God has provided an excellent leader and that Dr. Lunsford’s background, experience and gifts will help take the university to the next level.”
During his seven years at University of Texas at Tyler, Lunsford served on the president’s cabinet and was responsible for the areas of student affairs, enrollment management, student success, intercollegiate athletics, public information, marketing and government relations. Lunsford helped UT Tyler secure more than $170 million in capital funding from various sources both public and private. In addition, state appropriations for operations increased during his tenure. He oversaw construction of a student center, student health clinic, student recreation and convocation center and two student housing developments. He was instrumental in the creation of an academic advising center and support programs for freshmen. During his tenure, first-time enrollments of students increased 81 percent and the residential population grew by more than 800 students.
“LeTourneau University has a bright future,” Lunsford said. “To be named its president is a unique honor and an assignment that I accept with humility. It is among the most desired presidential appointments in the nation and I thank the Board for its confidence in me.”
In his opening address to LETU faculty, staff, and students on March 8, Lunsford spoke of his own faith.
"My trust is in the saving grace of Jesus Christ,” he said. “I believe that absolute truth exists and that it is found in the Bible, God's inerrant word, and that it is revealed with the assistance of God's Holy Spirit."
Lunsford emphasizes the value of an unapologetically Christian, interdenominational institution.
“The mission of LeTourneau University will not change,” he said. “I will hold steadfast to this place as a Christ-centered institution . . . that will not change.” As a part of his community work, he has served as a member of the executive committee leading a fundraising effort to construct a Baptist Student Ministry building adjacent to the University of Texas at Tyler campus. He feels that God has called him to LeTourneau University in His perfect timing for His purposes and prays for His wisdom.
An ordained deacon, Lunsford currently teaches a Sunday morning Bible study and is active in international missions at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. Lunsford's pastor, David O. Dykes, said Lunsford has been instrumental in leading his church to reach people around the world for Christ.
“Dale Lunsford has a heart for God and shares a passion to see people come to know Christ and become mature disciples,” Dykes said. Lunsford has served other churches through the years as a deacon, church moderator and mission chair.
Lunsford describes LeTourneau as a distinctive university, with its storied heritage of faith and ingenuity and its strong programs in aviation and engineering.
“With high ability students working with outstanding faculty, LeTourneau University prepares its graduates to lead in numerous professions, as many seek to meet our nation’s most critical shortages of teachers, scientists and engineers,” Lunsford said. “As an interdenominational Christian university, LeTourneau provides answers to a world hungry for the good news of Jesus Christ. Educating professionals who have a heart for God is the promise of LeTourneau. I’m most proud to join in this vital work.”
Prior to his administrative role at the University of Texas at Tyler, Lunsford was associate dean and director of undergraduate programs from 1995 to 1998 at the University of Tulsa’s College of Business Administration, where his first administrative role was as acting associate dean of the business school from 1993 to 1994.
Lunsford was an award-winning business professor prior to making the career step into administration. He began his teaching career as a graduate teaching associate from 1985 to 1987 at Oklahoma State University, where he earned his doctorate in business administration in 1989. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees, earned in 1982 and 1985, respectively, are from the University of Tulsa, where he taught from 1987 to 1999, completing his tenure as associate professor of marketing. In 1999, he was a visiting scholar at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He has continued as an associate professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Tyler since 2000.
Lunsford was twice named professor of the year at the University of Tulsa. He has published numerous professional articles on marketing and business and has served as editor of professional marketing and business publications. He also co-hosted a popular radio program called “ Business World” on a National Public Radio station in Tulsa.