JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 26, 2002 – “I have made a lot of investments in my life, but none have had as great a return as Union,” said Harold Patrick, an affable gentleman who acts as a Union trustee and sponsored Union University Day at Shiloh Ridge Golf Course one Tuesday afternoon in September.
Scattered across the course during the sunny, blue sky day could be seen small groups of alumni and students, both current and prospective, shading their eyes from the early afternoon light as they watched a white speck fly though the air to land almost invisible upon the green. Coming closer there could be heard shouts of joy and the teasing banter between the golfers along with the puzzled shaking of heads as they saw where their last ball landed. For those who felt no call to the green, back on the tennis court, a heated match was being played out by several players from the Union tennis team as part of a tennis clinic for prospective students. A little later, laughter and encouragement filled the courts as all the players engaged in games such as Dawgs and Union vs. Stinky U, training games that kept the balls whizzing over the net and players running back and forth over the court.
“I enjoyed being able to hang out with the tennis team and talking and getting to know them better in a less formal environment,” said Derrick Lambert of Corinth, Miss., a high school senior who attended the tennis clinic. “It was good. I really enjoyed it.”
“We want the prospective students to team up with and meet Union students,” said Patrick. “It takes away some of the fear factors to play with them in tennis or golf. Students are more likely to choose a school where they’ve met the students who attend there and so we really want to get Union students more involved in the recruitment of prospective students.”
“It’s always fun when we get together and see students and alums from within the community meet each other and realize that they have a connection,” said Gary Williams, executive director of alumni services.
Connections were discovered everywhere when talking with prospective Union family. The Roodens of Corinth, Miss. came because of their friendship with Charles Fowler (’86), a coordinator of the event, while Jill and David Jourdan played one hole ahead of friend of the family and ’66 graduate Ned Boston.
“Ned and I didn’t really know each other in school,” said Tommy Tapp, graduate of ’65, “which is funny considering how small the school was, but we’ve run into each other at several alumni events. We were on the old campus. It’s changed quite a bit since I was there.”
“I enjoyed the relationships with the professors. They weren’t distant, but accessible. That was new to me and I felt like they were on my side,” said Eric Barron (’87). “I had friends who started at the old campus and graduated at the new one, so we were always going back and forth. We still have a lot of friends at Union, like Charles Fowler.”
At the close of the evening meal a presentation was made by Union faculty and a surprise appearance by Patrick who played his harmonica with gusto, his talent having been discovered earlier in the day by Carroll Griffin (’87), director of admissions. Union President David S. Dockery also gave a short address and once the presentation was complete many stayed around to mingle with friends both old and new.
“It was very good, very informative,” said Mary Jane Mills of Selmar, Tenn., who attended with her daughter, Laura Beth.
“I think it went well and we had a good turn out. A great mix of students and alumni,” said Dockery.
“We had a real good time meeting prospective students and spending time with alums,” said Griffin. “Mr. Harold Patrick wanted to invite prospective students and alum to have food and play tennis and golf. He funded the whole thing and wouldn’t let us help with any of it.”
“The day went great,” said Patrick,”I hope to have another event here before the end of the year to help raise support for Union.”
By Alaina Kraus, Class of 2005
Sara B. Horn,