JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 28, 2008 –
Dear Students and Parents,
Greetings. I trust you have had a good summer. The starting date of the fall semester is getting closer and closer. We are so excited about the new students who will be arriving on Sept. 4, and the returning students who will join them shortly thereafter. We are expecting a record enrollment for what we trust will be a blessed semester in every way.
It is hard to believe that it has only been seven months since the storm of Feb. 5. At that time the future of Union looked very bleak. Today, the future of this university looks extremely bright, for which we are so grateful to our great God. Seven months ago, no one could have imagined the transformation that is taking place on the campus.
The new residence life complex is going to be absolutely terrific. When you arrive on campus you will see that we still have much work to do. Throughout the fall semester we will be focusing on the ongoing cleanup, as well as the projects that are still in process. The good news, however, is that we will be ready to welcome the new students on Sept. 4 and start classes on Sept 8. What an exciting time that will be!
Fourteen new residence life facilities are now complete. The Dodd and Grey buildings have also been completed. For all practical purposes, they are completely new as well. This means we have 16 new facilities. A 17th facility is under construction and should be ready for use in the spring semester. The architectural work for the new commons building is in process. We hope that work on the new commons building can begin before the conclusion of the fall semester so that the facility can be completed by this time next year.
In addition to this information about the residence life area, I wanted to provide a few brief highlights and updates that might be of interest to you.
1. We had a record year this past year in the area of giving. We give thanks to God for well over 8,900 donors who gave over $19 million (not counting pledges) over the 11-month period from Sept. 1, 2007, to July 31, 2008. About 150 donors made gifts of $10,000 or more. Indeed, we say, “Thanks be to God!”
2. The new pharmacy students started their classes on Wednesday, Aug. 27. We are also excited about the start of other new graduate programs in the year to come.
3. Much of the new furniture for the residence life complex has arrived. The final shipment is due on Sept. 2. The landscaping work around the new complex has begun. We need to ask you to please, please stay off of the grass when you arrive -- and continue to stay off of the newly sodded areas for some time to come. We will be ever grateful for your cooperation in this regard, and we all will be thankful in days to come if the landscaping efforts can mature to provide enhancement for the beautiful new facilities.
4. As I mentioned above, work will be continuing even after the students arrive, but we should be able to allow everyone to move in on Sept 4 and Sept. 6. We are excited to report that at this time we have 100 percent capacity in residence life.
5. At this time, the new external lighting is running behind schedule. We will have to use temporary lighting for the new complex when the semester begins. Work will continue on the paving, as well as the landscape work. The important thing to remember as you make your way to campus during the first week of September is that the campus has constantly been under construction for seven consecutive months.
6. On Sept. 12, we will have opening Convocation at 10 a.m. in the chapel. This will be followed by the dedication of the new residence life facilities at 11 a.m, which will be followed by a campus wide picnic. It should be a memorable day for all.
7. The opening of the new conference center (the Carl Grant Events Center) will not take place until mid-semester. This facility will add much to the campus, but we will wait patiently for its completion.
8. Work on the Miller Tower should be completed by the end of September. We will all be glad when the look of the campus icon can be restored.
9. Things are nearly completed in the Barefoot Building, Jennings Hall, and Blasingame. Everyone has been so patient and understanding as the work on these buildings has moved forward. I think the students will be excited about the look of the Barefoot Building, including the updates in the cafeteria and Barefoot’s Joe.
10. Work on White Hall and Hammons is complete.
11. We celebrate the wonderful news from U.S.News & World Report and the other recognitions that have come our way in recent days. For the 12th straight year, Union was chosen as one of the top tier universities in the South. Moreover, Union was selected as one of the top five “Up and Coming Universities in the South.” This recognition is extremely significant. Please see the story on the Web site if you have not already taken a look.
12. Several wonderful new faculty and staff have joined the Union family. I am excited about the contribution they will make to the life and mission of this university. I know you will look forward to meeting them.
I want to express my deep and heartfelt appreciation for the dedication of Union faculty and staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in recent months. We pray God’s blessings and favor upon each one. Finally, I want to ask you to join me in praying for all of the details that still have to be completed before the fall semester begins. May God’s blessings be yours in abundance.
David S. Dockery
President, Union University