Union University

Renewing Minds
Union University at a Glance

Renewing Minds > Union Profile

Location: Jackson, Tennessee (area population: 100,000), 80 miles east of Memphis and 120 miles west of Nashville. Forbes magazine recently ranked Jackson as one of America’s top 150 cities for business and careers.

Student Body: More than 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students from 44 states and 33 countries.

Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1

Percentage of Faculty with Highest Possible Degree in Field: 84%

Emphasis: A private, four-year, coeducational liberal arts-based university offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.

History: Founded in 1823, Union is the oldest institution affiliated with Southern Baptist life.

Technology: Each residence apartment is equipped with filtered Internet and cable service. In addition, wireless network access is available in all University buildings. Students receive a Union e-mail account and other services.

Activities: More than 50 major student-produced music and theatre events each academic year; 60 campus clubs, societies, fraternities, sororities  and other organizations; Cardinal & Cream student newspaper, The Torch literary journal, and "Jackson 24/7" daily television news program.

Campus: Union University’s main campus in Jackson and its extension campuses in Germantown and Hendersonville cover 360 acres. The wooded Jackson campus features pine groves, sycamores, a variety of oaks including Shumardi oaks lining the great lawn, elm, dogwoods, sweet gums and cherry trees.

There are more than 40 major buildings and excellent athletic facilities. More than $120 million in new campus construction has been completed during the past decade, including several new Georgian-Colonial classroom buildings that support state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities. Most of Union’s on-campus housing was constructed in 2008. Student-suggested design features were incorporated in each new building; all residence buildings include a private bedroom for each student.

The campus is situated along the U.S. 45 bypass in north Jackson and is adjacent to one of Jackson's largest concentration of retail establishments and restaurants.

Campus Visits: Visit our campus anytime to meet with faculty or visit a class. You are also invited to join us for a Union Preview Day. This year’s Preview Days schedule is found at http://www.uu.edu/campusvisits or call 1.800.33.UNION. Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., first and third Saturdays of the month from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Major Recognitions

U.S.News & World ReportU.S.News & World Report
Union has also been listed among 61 "up and coming" schools across the nation. Overall, the magazine's 2014 ranking places Union 13th among regional universities in the South, which means Union has been classified as a Top Tier institution each year since 1997 and has ranked among the top 20 regional universities in the South for seven consecutive years. Editors also identified Union as an "A+ option for serious B students."

Kiplinger's Personal FinanceKiplinger's Personal Finance
Kiplinger's evaluates the nation's private colleges and universities for academic quality alongside affordability. It ranks only 100 such institutions. On the 2014 list, Union is ranked 77th, and was among the lowest-priced schools in the listing. This ranking places Union among some of the finest institutions in the U.S. It was one of only three Tennessee schools on the list.

America's 100 Best College BuysAmerica's 100 Best College Buys
An objective and independent research company annually surveys more than a thousand public and private U.S. colleges and universities each year, then analyzes the information to find out which schools offer the best education for the dollar based upon academic performance indicators and comparative costs. Union has been named among the top 100 for nine consecutive years.

First Things
This highly respected publication that focuses on faith and public life, ranks Union as one of the nation's 12 best Protestant schools, and among the nation's top 25 church-related colleges and universities. Before posting these rankings, the magazine surveyed about 700 church-related institutions.

Princeton ReviewPrinceton Review
Princeton Review ranked Union among the top schools in the Southeast. Nationally, 623 schools received this regional ranking, which represents less than 25% of the nation's four-year colleges and universities.

Union is ranked among the top four universities in Tennessee and 107th among the nation's top 500 private universities. StateUniversity.com bases its rankings on statistical analysis and comparison of student/faculty ratio, student retention, test scores and other critical factors.

President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll
Initiated in 2006, this award recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs. Union is among a select group of institutions that has made the list in each of the years the honor roll has been compiled.

Colleges of DistinctionColleges of Distinction
Union and the other schools chosen for inclusion in this guide exhibit four distinctives of superior colleges and universities: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant communities and successful outcomes.

College Access and Opportunity Guide
Union is listed among 284 U.S. colleges "committed to serving and supporting today's first-generation, low-income and traditionally underserved college-bound students." Union is one of only four Tennessee institutions so honored.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Great Colleges to Work ForChronicle of Higher Education: Great Colleges to Work For
After a survey of 44,000 employees at 310 colleges and universities, the magazine chose 30 four-year institutions for its honor roll of Great Colleges to Work For. Union not only made that short list, but was also among only three institutions to be recognized in 11 separate rating categories.

Templeton Foundation
Union has been listed in the Foundation's guide entitled Colleges that Encourage Character Development. Schools included in this listing have "exemplary programs, presidents, and colleges and universities that inspire students to lead ethical and civic-minded lives."

Current Programs of Study

Art *#
Biology *
Business Administration *
Communication Arts
Computer Science
English *#
History *#
International and Intercultural Studies
Physical Education, Wellness and Sport
Physics *
Political Science *#
Pre-professional Programs
Social Work
Theology & Missions #
*Teacher Licensure Available
# This major is available also with Discipline-Specific Honors
Graduate Programs of Study


Union University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, baccalaureate, master's, education specialist, and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia, 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Union University.

Normal inquiries about the institution, such as admission requirements, financial aid, educational programs, etc., should be addressed directly to the institution and not to the Commission's office.

Discipline Specific Accreditations:



Varsity Sports

Recently offered intramural sports


Union University is an heir of three antebellum Tennessee schools-West Tennessee College and its predecessor, Jackson Male Academy, both located at Jackson, and of Union University, located at Murfreesboro-and it is the inheritor of another college in 1927, Hall-Moody Junior College of Martin, Tennessee.

Jackson Male Academy, founded in 1823 shortly after the opening of West Tennessee for settlement, was chartered by the legislature in 1825.

West Tennessee College

West Tennessee College originated in the mid-1840s when supporters of the Academy secured a charter for a college and received an endowment from the state to come from the sale of public lands. Under its charter, the property rights and governance of the Jackson Male Academy were vested in the trustees of the College. The College offered three degrees- bachelor of arts, bachelor of philosophy, and master of arts- and had four departments: Moral Philosophy, Languages, Mathematics, and Natural Philosophy and Chemistry.

Southwestern Baptist University and Tennessee Baptists

West Tennessee College continued until 1874, when at a time of depressed economic conditions, the trustees offered the College's buildings, grounds, and endowment to Tennessee Baptists in the hopes of attracting the southwestern regional university planned by the state's Baptist leaders.

Meanwhile, after years of discussion and the raising of an endowment, the Baptists of Middle Tennessee (there were three separate conventions in Tennessee at that time) in 1848 established Union University in Murfreesboro, near the geographical center of the state. Union University came upon hard times when in 1859 its highly respected president, Joseph H. Eaton, died and when during the Civil War its campus was badly damaged. It reopened in 1868 only to close again in 1873, largely because of its financial condition and an epidemic of cholera.

Southwestern Baptist University, the immediate predecessor of the present Union University, originated because of a desire by Tennessee Baptists, who still had a separate convention for each of the state's three Grand Divisions, for greater unification. Education became the core issue around which such unification was promoted. Committees of the three conventions met jointly in Humboldt in 1873 and issued a resolution supporting the establishment of a first-class regional university. An Educational Convention met in Murfreesboro in 1874, at which time a committee was appointed to select a location for the proposed university. The committee recommended the acceptance of the offer made by the citizens of Jackson to assume ownership of West Tennessee College.

Southwestern becomes Union University

In September 1874, the new Tennessee Baptist-related institution opened in Jackson, and in 1875 it was chartered as Southwestern Baptist University. In 1907, Dr. T. T. Eaton, a trustee at Southwestern from its beginning, bequeathed his 6,000 volume library to the institution. He was a former professor at the Murfreesboro campus, where his father, Dr. Joseph H. Eaton, had been president. In 1907 the name of Southwestern Baptist University was changed to Union University to honor the Eatons and others from the Murfreesboro campus who had made a major impact on Southwestern as faculty, administrators, trustees, and contributors. In a further move to unify its educational efforts, the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 1925 secured a new charter for the University in conjunction with the adoption of the Cooperative Program and clarity regarding the election of the University's trustees. Two years later, the Convention was able to consolidate Hall-Moody Junior College at Martin (1900-1927) with Union University. During the 1920s, Union discontinued its graduate program, its Law Department, and its high school and added a bachelor of music degree program.

After a major campus fire in 1912, several new buildings were constructed, including Barton Hall, the centerpiece of the Jackson campus for the next 60 years. In 1948, during the administration of President Warren F. Jones (1945-62), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted Union University its original accreditation. In 1962, at the request of area healthcare leaders, Union developed a nursing program with the assistance of Jackson-Madison County General Hospital.

The Move to North Jackson Campus in 1975

Because of an aging and landlocked campus, Union, in 1975, moved from near downtown to a new campus located along Highway 45-Bypass in north Jackson. During the administrations of President Robert Craig (1967-85) and President Hyran Barefoot (1986-1996), enrollment increased from less than 1,000 students to nearly 2,000; the multipurpose Penick Academic Complex was enlarged several times; many additional housing units were erected; and the Blasingame Academic Complex (1986) and the Hyran E. Barefoot Student Union Building (1994) were constructed.

Union Since 1995

When David S. Dockery was elected as the 15th president of Union University in December 1995, he brought with him a compelling vision to build on a great tradition while taking Union to the next level of regional and national prominence in Christian higher education. Considerable progress has been made during this time.

Dr. Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver was elected President on February 10, 2014 by the Board of Trustees.


Union's annual non-duplicating headcount has increased from 2,183 in 1996 to more than 5,300 in 2012. Union has recorded 15 consecutive years of enrollment increases.

The campus master plan established early in the Dockery administration has progressed with the construction or rebuilding of more than 20 residence halls. In addition, major campus building projects have been completed, including Miller Tower, Jennings Hall, Hammons Hall, the Fesmire athletic facilities, White Hall, the Carl Grant Events Center, the Bowld Student Commons and Providence Hall.

Beyond Jackson, Union has expanded with extension campuses in suburban Memphis (Germantown) and suburban Nashville (Hendersonville).

Academic Advances

Union's efforts to develop faculty resources serve as a model for many other institutions. There is a strong commitment to faith and learning efforts, as well as to teaching, scholarship and research among Union faculty through the Center for Faculty Development.

SACS Level VI accreditation was achieved, and many discipline-specific accreditations have been added across the campus. Significant progress has been made in developing research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Undergraduate majors have been added in political science, physics, theology, digital media studies, church history, ethics, sports management, sports medicine and engineering. Graduate programs added include education (M.Ed., M.U.Ed., Ed.S., and Ed.D.), nursing (MSN and DNP with tracks in education, administration, nurse practitioner, and nurse anesthesia), intercultural studies (MAIS), Social Work (MSW), in theology and missions (MCS and D.Min.) and Pharmacy (Pharm.D.).

Union established the Carl F.H. Henry Center for Christian Leadership, the Charles Colson Chair for Faith and Culture, the Stephen Olford Chair of Expository Preaching, the Hammons Chair of Pre-Medical Study and the Baptist Memorial Health Care Chair of Pharmacy Practice.

The university's academic strengths have been recognized by a host of national publications, including First Things, which ranks Union among the top 12 Protestant universities in the country.

Fund Raising Advances

Giving to Union has increased significantly, including more than twenty of the largest financial commitments in the University's history.

The University launched and completed "Building a Future," a comprehensive, $110 million dollar capital campaign. It was the largest capital campaign in University history.

The highly successful annual Scholarship Banquet was initiated in 1997 and has raised about $5.5 million for student scholarships.

People-Focused Advances

In 2011, The Chronicle of Higher Education named Union University among its "Great Colleges to Work For." Union was one of only a few schools to score in 11 of 12 possible categories, placing it among the top 42 schools in the nation.

Union has initiated LIFE group programs, student retention programs, student mission involvement and formative programs for freshman students.

Undergraduate Areas of Study