Fri, Apr 28 2017
LeTourneau University will host two graduation ceremonies Saturday, May 6, in the S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center at the Longview campus, 2100 S. Mobberly Avenue for over 400 qualified graduates.
LETU’s first commencement ceremony is at 10:30 a.m. for graduates from Arts & Sciences, Aviation & Aeronautical Science, Education, Nursing, Theology and Vocation.
The second ceremony is at 2 p.m. for graduates from Business, Engineering & Engineering Technology, and Psychology & Counseling.
Keynote speaker for both commencements will be John A. Solheim, Chairman and CEO of Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, the parent company of PING, Inc., maker of the world-renowned PING golf equipment. LETU will award Solheim an honorary Doctor of Science degree for his outstanding leadership, spiritual commitment and contributions to society.
“John Solheim is recognized worldwide for his impact of the golf industry,” said LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford. “He has engineered the top performing equipment while growing PING into one of the most recognizable brand names in the golf marketplace. John epitomizes the LeTourneau mission with his commitment to professional excellence and personal faith in Christ.”
Solheim, who originally wanted to be an architect, today designs and manufactures golf clubs that make the game of golf easier to play. John worked side-by-side with his father, Karsten Solheim, a General Electric engineer who revolutionized the golf equipment industry after starting the company in the garage of their home in Redlands, California, in the late 1950s.
The company was named “PING” from the pinging sound made when the golf ball strikes the club. The story of PING Inc. is a true American success story.
John excelled in math, science and shop in high school and was recognized as the Outstanding Industrial Arts student. He attended LeTourneau University in 1964 and has provided leadership to the university since his election to the board of trustees in 1992. LETU’s Solheim Recreation and Activity Center today is named in honor of the Solheim family.
John’s engineering mind developed while assisting his father in building putters, leading to his fascination in engineering and design. He helped turn his father’s garage business into one of the premier golf brands in the world.
In the 1980s, PING became the top seller of irons and was the first to offer golfers with a custom fittings for golf clubs based on their physical characteristics and common golf problems. In 1995, John became President of KMC/PING.
John has been instrumental not only running the company, but also facilitating and designing clubs, along with golf bag design. John created a lightweight carry bag with a stand, changing carry bags forever. PING bags have dominated men’s and women’s NCAA golf championships, many times with 100% usage.
Over the past 57 years, KMC has evolved into a global company. Karsten started a sister company in England, and John expanded with subsidiaries in Canada, Japan, China, Germany, France and Spain.
Based today in Phoenix, Arizona, PING sponsors the Solheim Cup, three-day match play event that is the top competition between top women golfers from the U.S. and Europe and also supports U.S. military personnel by providing those serving in various war zones around the world with PING golf clubs.
Today John is Chairman, President and CEO of KMC; Chairman and CEO of PING; Chairman of PING Europe and President of Dolphin, an investment cast foundry.
PING remains family owned and operated, with John’s sons John K., Andrew and David along with niece Stacey Pauwels running day-to-day operations alongside John and other family members. John’s oldest son, John K., recently became President.
John Solheim, like his father, leads his life following the Bible verse of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
LeTourneau University is the premier Christian polytechnic university in the nation where educators engage students to nurture Christian virtue, develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, integrate faith and work, and serve the local and global community. LETU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs across a range of disciplines and delivery models at LETU’s residential campus in Longview, Texas, and in hybrid and fully online options at centers in Dallas and Houston.