JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 16, 2008 – Less than seven months after massive tornado damage forced the demolition of multiple student housing buildings, Union University dedicated 14 new residence life buildings in a special ceremony Sept. 12.
“Peace be to this new residential complex, and to all enter and abide here,” Union University President David S. Dockery said to start the ceremony.
Dockery thanked those people who served as “God’s agents and instruments of grace and mercy” during the rebuilding process that began after a Feb. 5 tornado caused massive destruction to the former Hurt and Watters residential complexes. Those two complexes were demolished in the days after the storm.
“It is hardly possible to thank everyone appropriately,” he said. “We begin with 5,000 volunteers who came to help us. We begin with 6,500 donors who have given more than $16 million to help us in the recovery. For each and every one of those, we are thankful.
“For the amazing generosity of so many that continues to compound itself project after project, we offer our thanks to God.”
The four quads in the new complex have been named Ayers, Grace, Hurt and Watters.
Dockery noted the work of the contractors –Worsham Brothers Construction Co. of Corinth, Miss., and Brasfield Construction Co. of Jackson, Tenn. – who finished the complexes ahead of schedule. He also praised Gary Carter, Union’s senior vice president for business and financial services, and Kimberly Thornbury, Union’s dean of students, for their dedication to the project.
The two-story buildings in the residence life complexes house about 700 students. A 15th residential building in the complex is under construction, and is scheduled for completion later this fall. A final building scheduled for construction will serve as a commons building.
Total cost for the project was about $30 million.
Original plans called for half of the 14 buildings to be ready by the start of the fall semester, with the other half to be completed by the spring semester in 2009. But the two contractors working on the project -- Worsham Brothers Construction Co. of Corinth, Miss., and Brasfield Construction Co. of Jackson, Tenn. – finished the task earlier than expected.
The new student housing facilities are located on the site of the previous Watters and Hurt complexes. The apartment-style suites in the new housing complex accommodate four students, each of whom will have a private bedroom. Each suite also features two bathrooms, a kitchenette and a washer/dryer. Each building in the complex contains 39, 47 or 55 bedrooms.
All downstairs apartments contain a safe room to provide storm shelters for students.
A memorial marker to the previous buildings is located on the sidewalk through the middle of the new complex.