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Dockery: Students are primary concern

Center: Caitlin Clinger, Maggie Paredes, right, Rachel Fillinger, back center, Alania Bare, left, were among the first Union students to return to campus after Tuesday night's tornado. With students hoping to attempt to reclaim belongings and vehicles, authorities have closed down the campus to assess the damage. Photo by Kyle Kurlick
Center: Caitlin Clinger, Maggie Paredes, right, Rachel Fillinger, back center, Alania Bare, left, were among the first Union students to return to campus after Tuesday night's tornado. With students hoping to attempt to reclaim belongings and vehicles, authorities have closed down the campus to assess the damage. Photo by Kyle Kurlick

JACKSON, Tenn.Feb. 8, 2008 – David S. Dockery, president of Union University, expressed great sympathy in reflection of Tuesday’s tornadic activity.

Nevertheless, he holds great hope for the future of the student body and the rebuilding of the university as a whole.

“I’ve gone through several emotions from the first moment I saw the devastation, to hearing the cries from the students under the rubble, to seeing how in the world are we going to be able to coordinate these efforts Tuesday night, which were just a jumble sort of things,” Dockery said. “Now, nearly 40 hours later, I’m in a state of great hopefulness.”

Dockery explained a plan has been implemented to propel the university forward in a positive direction.

“We’re not going to have everything back to normal tomorrow, on Feb. 18, or even by the end of this spring semester,” Dockery said. “But we have a plan in place that’s going to move us forward with short-term strategies, intermediate strategies and long-term prospects for a better Union University.

“While this is an incredible tragedy, the opportunities on the other side are quite hopeful. We’re thankful for God’s providence that has helped us through and we’re trusting in God to guide us as we move forward.”

Dockery explained his heart for his students who have suffered and been displaced during this time. However, he encouraged students that this is not the end.

“My heart goes out to students who have been in places and lost belongings and those who are badly hurt from (the tornado), but I think we have much for which to rejoice and we need to focus on that and not look back, but look forward,” Dockery said.

Dockery expressed his desire for students to know that the university’s administration and faculty know the difficulties students are experiencing. He said while there is concern for the devastation of the physical campus, that is not the chief focus. The primary concern of the Union administration is the students.

“We are concerned about them, their well-being, getting them back into the saddle, getting them back into trying to finish this spring semester,” Dockery said. “It’s so important, especially for our seniors who are trying to plan for graduate school next fall. We have got to finish this semester, and we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that happens.”

By Brittany Howerton ('08)


Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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