JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 25, 2010 – With thanksgiving to God for his sustaining grace to Union University over the past 30 months, President David S. Dockery and other university leaders dedicated Providence Hall – the new home for Union’s School of Pharmacy -- during an Aug. 25 ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“While there are many people deserving of having their name on this building, they all agreed that what we needed was a marker on this campus to testify to God’s gracious providence, to his faithfulness, to the fact that he has sustained us for the past 30 months in ways that are almost unimaginable for us to understand,” Dockery said.
The name of the 57,000-square-foot facility testifies to the way God provided for Union University in the days following a Feb. 5, 2008, tornado that caused massive destruction on the Union campus. At the time of the storm, Sheila Mitchell, founding dean of the School of Pharmacy, and her colleagues were busy recruiting their first class of students, who were scheduled to begin their studies in the fall of 2008.
Their task was challenging enough without the added burden of the tornado that left a cloud of uncertainty in its wake. As the Union community gathered two weeks later to celebrate the resumption of classes, Dockery read the words from Psalm 84, words which are now inscribed on the front of Providence Hall:
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord. My heart cries out to the living God. … The Lord God is a sun and a shield; he bestows favor and grace upon us; no good thing does he withhold. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.”
“The Lord God is good and he has been favorable and gracious to us, and he has given us this day and this wonderful opportunity for celebration,” Dockery said.
The three-story Providence Hall features state-of-the-art technology and a design conducive to student learning. The building contains five large classrooms, all equipped for video conferencing, as well as about 20 rooms for elective classes and small group teaching, faculty offices, a student lounge and the School of Pharmacy’s Student Government Association and Student Organizations office.
The building also features seven laboratories for science research in the fields of pharmacology, drug design/pharmacometrics and drug discovery, as well as teaching labs for sterile preparation, simulation and counseling.
In addition, a large portion of the third floor is devoted to simulation, with multiple human patient simulators that the School of Pharmacy shares with Union’s School of Nursing as a part of the university’s Center for Excellence in Health Care Practice.
Providence Hall is special, Dockery said, because it signifies Union’s commitment to a distinctive, cutting-edge approach to healthcare education. As part of the dedication ceremony, Dockery recognized Lou Oberndorf, who has been what the Union president called a “guiding force” in helping Union’s development of healthcare education through human patient simulators. Oberndorf was installed as the first senior fellow for the Center for Excellence in Health Care Practice.
The three floors of Providence Hall are named for significant donors to the project. The first floor is named for West Tennessee Healthcare, the second floor for the Grace Foundation and Carl Grant and the third floor for Baptist Memorial Health Care. Throughout the building, classrooms, labs, offices, lounges, conference rooms and simulator rooms are also named for key donors. A dozen six-figure gifts, four of which were seven-figure gifts, were donated to help Union build Providence Hall.
Dockery recognized H&M Contractors, who built the facility, and TLM Associates Inc., who designed the building, as well as those from the Union administration and School of Pharmacy who were heavily involved in the planning and construction processes.
The ceremony included dedication tributes from Ashley Turner, a third-year pharmacy student, Josh Clarke, part of the School of Pharmacy staff, and Blake Watkins, from the School of Pharmacy faculty.
“We are continuously prospering as students, as future pharmacists and as people,” Turner said. “Therefore, on this day, as we dedicate Providence Hall, we the students will remain dedicated to our education here at Union and to our profession that each of us has been called to. It is our hope and our mission to walk out into the world standing firm in our faith and our education, letting our knowledge, our diligence and our professionalism speak for themselves.
“We will represent pharmacists set out from the rest, as we will be products of Union University.”
Later in the day, first-year students in Union’s third pharmacy class received white coats and the university’s blessing during the annual white coat ceremony. The ceremony is a ritual for medical schools and pharmacy schools in which students are given the white coats they will wear throughout their years as students and in their profession.
The ribbon-cutting was the first of two such ceremonies at Union University this week. On Aug. 27, Union will dedicate its new Hope Quad student housing facility. The Hope Quad dedication will be the 18th ribbon-cutting over which Dockery has presided during his 14-year tenure as president.