JACKSON, Tenn. – May 11, 2007 – Hailing the day as one of the most significant in Union University history and thanking God for his blessings, Union University President David S. Dockery and other university leaders dedicated White Hall during a May 11 ceremony.
“It is a hallelujah day on the campus of Union University,” Dockery told a crowd of about 700 who gathered on the steps of Union’s new science building for the dedication ceremony. “We have looked forward to this day for many years. We have dreamed and prayed and worked, and today is the culmination of that, and we give thanks to our great God.”
The $20 million, 63,345-square foot state-of-the-art facility will house the departments of biology and chemistry, and the School of Nursing. It includes 20 teaching laboratories (including a nuclear magnetic resonance facility), seven lecture classrooms, three undergraduate research suites, 42 offices and three conference rooms.
For the School of Nursing, the building contains seven hospital bed bays, six human patient simulators and one operating room.
“It will provide incredible opportunities for our students in the days ahead, things we could not have even imagined just a few years ago,” Dockery said.
The building is named in honor of Roy L. White of Memphis, the lead donor for the project.
“I really think God laid that on my heart,” White said following the ceremony about his decision to give the lead gift for the building. “Before I really got involved with Union, I started walking through the halls of Union and talking to students. I would listen, and a lot of the things students would talk about at Union University were not discussed at public institutions.”
White said he realized how important education was to the Union students, and added that God prompted him to get involved at Union. He has served on the board of trustees for about 10 years now.
One of the things White is most excited about is what White Hall will mean in the future – not only for West Tennessee, but for the world.
“The students who go through this building, I think will touch mankind throughout the whole world,” White said. “I think God has got his hand on Union University. I am just delighted and privileged to be a part of it.”
Jill Konkol, a senior biology major and chemistry minor, led in a time of praise and adoration during the ceremony.
“We are impressed when scientists develop instruments so powerful they can pick up the sound of galaxies in collision 270 million light years away,” Konkol said. “We are amazed to see a laser beam cut through a diamond as if it were paper. We marvel at the quiet power of a few drops of water which, when frozen, can tear apart a brass valve that half a dozen men cannot turn. But we are completely in awe when we contemplate the greatness and the majesty of one God in three persons.”
Union trustees in December 1997 approved a campus master plan that set in motion the events leading to White Hall’s construction. Two years later, Union chemistry professor Charles Baldwin and biology professor Elsie Smith, in a conversation with Dockery, confirmed that the university should build a new science facility if at all possible, Dockery said.
“At that time the Lord brought Roy White our way,” Dockery said. “Roy White was God’s instrument to help chart the course for this marvelous facility.”
In 2002, plans were in place to move forward with the building. But a tornado that devastated the campus in November 2002 brought those plans to a halt.
Dockery said the events were all in God’s providence, as the delay allowed more supporters to come on board for the project. The university received five different donations of more than $1 million for the building and several six-figure gifts.
“West Tennessee Healthcare, in particular, joined in leading the way,” Dockery said.
In 2005, trustees selected Jim Campbell of H&M Construction to build the facility, joining architects from TLM Associates Inc. Construction began in November 2005. It took about 145,000 man-hours of work to complete.
Dockery thanked Union trustees for their support of the project. He cited special leadership from such trustees as Harry Smith, Mike Weeks, Shelby Massey, Gary Taylor, Lisa Rogers, Bill Dement and Bob Campbell. In front of White Hall, brick pavers contain the names of every trustee and emeritus trustee who voted for or invested in the facility.
Additional bricks contain the names of others who donated to White Hall’s construction.
“Today we gather to give thanks, abundant thanksgiving to our great God for this magnificent facility,” Dockery said during the ceremony. “We have come today to dedicate this building to the glory of God and to say a word of deep gratitude to so many, many people.”