About LeTourneau University
LeTourneau University is a private, nondenominational Christian university located in Longview, Texas with flagship programs in engineering, aeronautical science, business and education. The university also provides business and education programs for working adults in educational centers around Texas. Founded as LeTourneau Technical Institute in February of 1946 by R.G. LeTourneau with his wife Evelyn, the school initially educated veterans returning from World War II but has grown into a nationally-recognized master's-granting university, as ranked in "America's Best Colleges" by US News and World Report. Total enrollment of LeTourneau University is over 4,000.
LeTourneau University is named for its founder, R.G. LeTourneau, one of the world’s greatest inventors of earthmoving equipment. A businessman and devout Christian, LeTourneau toured Longview, Texas, with his wife, Evelyn in 1946 to consider a manufacturing site for his next earthmoving equipment factory. While flying over a sprawling complex of a vacated Army hospital consisting of over 200 frame buildings, Mrs. LeTourneau inquired about the facility. When told it was no longer in use, she suggested establishing a school to educate returning World War II veterans.
The site became LeTourneau Technical Institute, founded in 1946 with only male students. In 1961 the school became LeTourneau College, a co-educational four-year school. In 1989 LeTourneau College became LeTourneau University, a SACS and ABET accredited, nondenominational Christian university, offering four-year and two-year degree programs in engineering, technology, the liberal arts, business, aeronautical science, education, and the sciences, plus master's degree programs in business and education.
In that same year, the university began expanding into offering programs for working adults in evening and weekend classes. Calling it the LEAP program, which stood for LeTourneau Education for Adult Professionals, classes with the same students making a group, or cohort, met weekly for six to eight weeks per course. Cohorts were kept on track through to degree completion with students automatically enrolled in each next class, and as each class finished, the next course began in the same location the following week with a different professor. Many other universities have adopted this format to reach working adults.
Today, more than 2,500 students attend LeTourneau University without ever stepping foot onto the university’s beautiful main campus in Longview, Texas. These LETU students are working adult students in the university’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies. They attend classes online or attend evening and weekend classes at educational centers in Tyler, Dallas, Bedford, Houston and Austin.
Longview and Tyler both opened learning centers for evening and weekend classes in 1989. Dallas and Bedford opened in 1990. Houston followed in 1993. The city of Austin was added in 2001. A second Houston site, in the Westchase District, opened in 2006.
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 servicemen with neurological and dermatological issues. 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 U.S. 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 nearby LeTourneau Incorporated manufacturing plant, thus satisfying the laboratory requirements of all of the industrial courses.