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Dr. Larry Frazier
Dean of Arts & Sciences

By Rachel Stallard

frazier.jpgIt’s not easy being 1,200 miles away when your dad is struggling with cancer.  Dr. Larry J. Frazier was only slightly relieved as he hung up the phone in his Murfreesboro, N.C., home after talking to his dad who had played such an influential role in his life.  His dad had worked long hours as a successful plumber in their hometown of White Oak, Texas, and was within reach of achieving his goal to become a teacher through LeTourneau University’s School of Education when he was diagnosed. 

Frazier’s dad had a new outlook on life, but also had unwittingly influenced Frazier’s next career move as a Christian educator.

 “As my dad told me about his experiences at LeTourneau, his class professors, the students and how they took care of him — they really helped him through a tough time,” Frazier said. “His dream had always been to go to college and earn his teaching certification.  With their help, he was achieving that goal.  When someone treats your family well, it really makes an impression on you.”

Frazier admits his dad's experience with LETU influenced his own decision when he considered the offer to become LETU’s new dean of arts and sciences in 2011.

LeTourneau was not on Frazier’s educational radar when he was a teenager growing up in East Texas.

His route followed a Baptist bent as he graduated salutatorian from East Texas Baptist University, double majoring in Christian Ministry and Behavioral Sciences. He then earned a Master of Arts in Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and earned his Ph.D. in Religion from Baylor University in Waco. For 10 years, he taught at Chowan University, a Christian school in North Carolina founded by Baptist families in 1848.

Today, as LETU's dean of Arts & Sciences, Frazier is fully dedicated to his role.

“I want folks in East Texas to say, ‘LeTourneau is our school,’” he said.  “It’s really remarkable that we have this high-quality, Christian university whose name has worldwide recognition, right here in our own backyard in East Texas.

“In the School of Arts and Sciences, LETU students studying biology have had great success getting admitted to some of the top medical schools,” Frazier said. “Welch grants have provided research opportunities for many of our chemistry and physics students, which helps them get into graduate programs because they are already experienced in research activities. 

"Our computer science programs, with concentrations in game development and network security, are having great success placing students in the workplace and in graduate schools.  And we have a great program in biblical studies with a top-notch faculty. 

Frazier likes to emphasize the strengths a liberal arts education can offer, even in a class of engineers. 

“Every student at LETU takes classes in general education from the School of Arts and Sciences, so we serve the entire university in that way,” Frazier said. “The heart of the university experience is cultivated by the arts and sciences.  That’s the universal in university — the essential skills of reading, writing, thinking and communicating. The learning that happens in classes like religion, history and English shapes all of our students.

“The integration of faith and work is an emphasis across the campus, and students begin that process their freshman year,” he said. “All students find that initial contact in their first class, then take those skills to their majors and fine-tune them. What sorts of scientists, computer programmers, ministers, or educators are we producing?  What sorts of engineers or pilots?   Our classes are where the identity of a university is shaped.”

Frazier emphasizes the value of service opportunities that LETU encourages. 

“Service opportunities are the perfect laboratory for applying what you’ve learned in class, while you’re also realizing, ‘It’s not all about me.’  It’s about making a difference in the world and being a Christian witness,” Frazier said. “I tell kids to start saving right now, and ask family members and church friends to help sponsor you, because there’s no experience out there where you’re going to get this kind of return than from some sort of mission or service, especially if it gets you into a culture that’s different from yours.”

Frazier wore a variety of hats as he worked at Chowan, going from a department chair, to an assistant dean, to dean, and then associate provost (with some NCAA duties thrown in along the way). Through his service there, he learned what made a university run, but said all of these jobs were tied to something he learned early on in college —the value of using your talents wisely.  

“Certain words have guided me through my career, and one of those words is Stewardship,” Frazier said. “Stewardship was an idea communicated to me way back, to be the wisest steward of the abilities and gifts you have been given.” 

As new opportunities came his way, if he ever doubted his odds of success in new roles, he would focus on the gifts he had to offer and where God had placed him. “What kept me motivated was trusting God for the abilities He gave me and developing them as best I could and then letting God worry about where they would take me down the road,” he said.

It’s the same concept he hopes to teach students now. 

“College is all about the person you become,” Frazier said. “It’s not just about a job you get, because jobs will change. It’s about what kind of person will you turn out to be? At a school like LeTourneau, you learn that God has gifted you in a special way, and let’s find out what that is and develop it.”