Dr. Robert W. Hudson
Vice President, Office of Global Initiatives
Waiting for his flight to board at East Texas Regional Airport on a cool, crisp Saturday morning, Dr. Robert W. Hudson looks over his itinerary: Longview to Dallas to Chicago to New Delhi. During this trip to India, Hudson is representing LeTourneau University in New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai with the goal to attract international students. This international trip is the first of many he will take as LETU’s new vice president for the Office for Global Initiatives, but he is an experienced traveler and is confident in God’s plan to expand the university’s relationships globally.
LeTourneau University’s Every Workplace in Every Nation strategic plan identifies five pillars that give support for the direction of the university over the next few years. One of these commitments is to “be a university of global influence.” To that end, Dr. Dale A. Lunsford announced the creation of the Office for Global Initiatives, which was established July 1, 2011. Lunsford appointed Hudson to the new cabinet-level position as its vice president charged with leading all global initiatives for the university.
Hudson was the perfect choice to lead this new initiative. Entering his 18th year of service at LeTourneau, Hudson had served as the vice president for the School of Graduate and Professional Studies for 11 years followed by six years as chief academic officer. He knows LeTourneau. And he knows international culture.
Hudson grew up as the son of missionaries in the Mayan villages of Guatemala, Central America, and later, he and his wife, Betty, served as missionaries in Costa Rica where he taught and served in the administration at a Nazarene Seminary. He has traveled extensively throughout Central America and Europe, as well as recent trips to China, Africa, Korea, Mexico and India.
In making the announcement, Lunsford stated that Hudson’s global experience has given him a unique perspective on global education and the significant role that Christian higher education can play in impacting the world for Christ. Even in Hudson’s previous role as LETU’s chief academic officer, he led the establishment of the Office of International Studies to help coordinate various international initiatives for international student recruiting and support.
Hudson continues to oversee this area in his new role, currently seeking to fill a key position for an associate vice president for International Admissions and Enrollment Services. That person will lead recruiting and retention efforts for all international students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and will establish the necessary infrastructure for international student success. In attracting diverse students from across the globe, LETU seeks to promote cross-cultural understanding on the campus and in the local community.
“Our hands-on learning culture and excellent academic programs are a drawing card for recruiting international students of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds to study here and then have them return to work places all over the world with their Christian worldview,” Hudson said.
“Being a university of global influence also means expanding the curriculum to promote the study of global topics and languages, study abroad programs and expanding our exchange relationships with other Christian universities worldwide,” Hudson said.
“Future leaders in the 21st century will require a global perspective across all professions,” Hudson said. “We want to increase the opportunities for LETU students to study abroad, participate in international internships, experience cultural immersion and experience collaborative service opportunities in their educational programs."
In January, Hudson will oversee a new Center for Global Service Learning, under the direction of Dr. Kelly Liebengood. The mission of the new center is to connect faculty and students with opportunities to demonstrate God’s redemptive love in solving global problems and social injustices.
Hudson cited several of the projects currently under way at LETU that will fit under the global initiatives umbrella including:
- Small-plot irrigation project that engineering students have developed to help farmers in developing countries be able to draw water from the ground to grow food.
- A wheelchair research project that enables students to do outcomes research on pediatric wheelchairs being used at an orphanage in Kenya. The research will lead to improvements in wheelchair design that can improve functionality on a global scale.
- Visual literacy project that researches how people in a remote village in Kenya translate visual two-dimensional drawings and representations into a three-dimensional world.
- Bible translation project that enables students to assist a group in Nigeria that seeks to enable villagers in areas of the world to have the Word written in their own language.
“Unique service-learning experiences at LETU are already helping students address global problems and social injustice in a way that glorifies Christ,” Hudson said. “This new center will help us to identify and expand on that.”
All of these intentional global initiatives together will expand the international scope of the university as it attracts a more ethnically diverse student body, expands study abroad experiences for students and promotes international professional development and scholarship opportunities for faculty, and by design, they will create a university without borders.
This article was featured in the Fall 2011 NOW Magazine.
Written by Janet Ragland
Photographed by Tom Barnard