Lubbock Christian University (LCU) officials announced today a $3 million-dollar gift from Al and Pat Smith, longtime friends and supporters of the University from Amarillo, TX. The gift will be divided between two areas: $2 million of the funds will be used to establish the Jesse C. Long, Jr. Endowed Chair of Biblical Text, and $1 million will be used to set an endowment for the Vocati Institute, a program fostering spiritual formation in young people.
The Jesse C. Long, Jr. Endowed Chair will help recruit and retain distinguished faculty, provide long-range planning, and secure the on-going mission for the Smith College of Biblical Studies.
On having the chair named after him, Dr. Jesse C. Long, Jr. commented, “To have an endowed chair bestowed on the College of Biblical Studies in my name is a great honor. It is an honor not because of personal recognition—the naming was not solicited—but because of the benefactors.”
Long continued, “Al and Pat Smith are genuine servants of God who have been touched by our Lord to give generously to Christian higher education, which they have done for LCU. Their hearts are especially turned toward training young men and women to serve the kingdom in ministry, and they believe that the word of God is the foundation of that training.”
Dr. Scott McDowell, president of LCU, announced at the press conference that Dr. Jesse C. Long, Jr. will receive the first appointment to the endowed chair. Dr. Long has been part of the LCU faculty for over 20 years, and currently serves as a Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Archaeology. A beloved and popular professor with students, Long formerly served as the dean of the Smith College of Biblical Studies for eight years. Additionally, Jesse and his wife, JoAnn, have routinely led trips to the Holy Land of Israel for over 20 years, taking students, peers, and friends of the University.
“In this moment, Dr. Jesse Long receives a double honor that is well deserved,” shared President McDowell. “Not only is the endowed chair named for him in perpetuity, but he is also the inaugural holder of the chair. I cannot imagine a more appropriate person to fill this role. As a university, we are grateful for the service of Jesse and JoAnn Long and the heritage of faithfulness that they represent.”
Dr. Long commented, “It encourages me to know that when we are gone, because of this gift and our emphasis on biblical teaching and ministry at LCU, young men and women will know and have in their hearts the name of Jesus.”
The other $1 million of the endowment gift will be used to sustain the ongoing effort of LCU’s Vocati Institute, a Missional Youth Theology Institute, which originated with a grant from the Lilly Endowment. Vocati is designed to create spaces and experiences where young people can cultivate their intellectual curiosity, explore deeper questions about God and faith, and make sense of their place and purpose in an increasingly complex, global world.
Dr. JoAnn Long, LCU faculty member and Program and Research Director for Vocati stated, “Supporters of all things good, and especially ministry, the Smith’s decision to come alongside the work being accomplished through Vocati will impact both church and community for decades to come. We are confident that God will multiply what they have done in the lives of the young people who will be blessed because of their generosity.”
Dr. Jeremy Smith, who serves as Program Coordinator for Vocati, shared, “This gift invigorates the fire in our soul to continue offering the highest level of wholistic ministry to adolescents as we strive toward real discipleship and transformed lives in today’s young people.”
In response to the generous gift to the University, President McDowell said, “This gift for an endowed chair in the College of Biblical studies and to create a permanent endowment for the Vocati program is a watershed moment for Lubbock Christian University. These funds will enable us to successfully fulfill our Christ-centered mission by faithfully teaching scripture and providing a setting for students to wrestle with the hard, critical issues that are necessary for them to form and own their own faith.”
Raymond Richardson, who serves as the Vice President of University Advancement, stated, “This gift from Al and Pat Smith creates a legacy, not for them, but for students who will attend LCU for generations to come. This type of investment allows Lubbock Christian University to stand firm on Christ-centered mission that is so important in today’s world.”
President McDowell concluded, “We are all grateful for, and I am personally moved by the sincere generosity of Al and Pat Smith. Al and Pat are the definition of joyful givers. They give because of who they are. They are people with deeply held kingdom convictions and an overall sense of gratitude for God’s blessing in their lives. Generosity just flows out of their hearts as a result. They are so fun-loving that it’s infectious. You cannot be around them without catching some of their gratitude fueled joy.”
Learn more about Vocati or the Alfred and Patricia Smith College of Biblical Studies.