07/05/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/05/2019 03:42
LeTourneau University will host two graduation ceremonies Saturday, May 11, 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 a.m. for graduates from Arts & Sciences, Aviation & Aeronautical Science, Education, Nursing, Psychology & Counseling, Theology and Vocation.
The second ceremony is at 2 p.m. for graduates from Business and Engineering & Engineering Technology.
Keynote speaker for both commencements will be retiring aviation professor Lauren G. Bitikofer, who is retiring this year having taught aviation at LETU for 42 years.
Bitikofer's fascination with airplanes began as a young boy growing up in a farming community in central Kansas when his father arranged for he and his brother to take a penny-a-pound airplane ride. The young boy was hooked. He flew model airplanes growing up and at age 15 began taking flight lessons. He soloed on his 16th birthday, got his private certificate at 17 and became a commercial pilot at 18, working evening and summer jobs to pay for it.
Bitikofer attended LeTourneau College after graduating high school to earn his A&P mechanic certificate. God used LeTourneau during Bitikofer's freshman year to change his focus from airplanes to Himself. As a result, he interrupted his education at LeTourneau to spend a year at Word of Life Bible Institute in upstate New York. It was there that he met his future wife, Kathy.
Upon completing his A&P training at LeTourneau in 1975, he moved back to Kansas to work on a research and development project building small experimental jet airplanes. In 1977 he married Kathy, and they began their ministry at LeTourneau. They have two children, Elizabeth and Robert, and one granddaughter.
Bitikofer holds the following degrees and certifications: Diploma, Biblical Studies, Word of Life Bible Institute; A.S., LeTourneau University, B.S., LeTourneau University; M.S., University of Texas at Tyler; FAA Certificates: Certificated Mechanic, Airframe and Powerplant Ratings; Inspection Authorization, Airline Transport Pilot for Multi-engine, Commercial Pilot with Instrument Airplane Single Engine and Helicopter, Flight Instructor: Multi-engine, Single Engine and Instrument Airplane, Rotorcraft Helicopter, FAA Designated Mechanic Examiner, and Remote Pilot Certificate.
He has worked as an aircraft technician, an instructor of aviation technology, a director of flight maintenance, chairman of the division of aviation, chair of flight science and professor of aviation. He has won many awards including 2016 Outstanding Professor, College of Aviation & Aeronautical Science; 2016 Curriculum Design and Technology Award; 1991Award of Tenure; 2015 Minnie Stevens Piper Nominee; 2003-2004 Teacher of the Year; 2001 Robert H. Selby Teaching Scholar; 1982 Outstanding Teacher of the Year.
LeTourneau University is the 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.
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