JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 28, 2009 – Union University installed three people into leadership positions at the university during the fall convocation service in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel Aug. 28.
As part of the service, which marks the official beginning to the semester, the Union community also heard from President David S. Dockery, who used Jesus’ prayer in John 17 to illustrate characteristics of a Christ-centered academic community.
“It is only at the cross, and only through the gospel itself, that we can truly see what it means to live in and be a part of a Christ-centered academic community – to pursue serious studies and rigorous scholarship, while serving in this community for the good of those around us,” Dockery said.
Dockery said the first priority of Union students, faculty and staff should be to bring glory to God in all things done at Union University. He also encouraged them to perform their responsibilities with joy.
“My prayer is that the Union community would find joy ultimately in Christ, that students would find joy in their studies and in a myriad of friendships across the campus, and that faculty and staff would daily and gladly find real joy in their service in this most special Christ-centered academic community,” Dockery said.
Mary Anne Poe, who has served as a social work professor at Union since 1996, was installed as the director of the new Center for Just and Caring Communities. The center is based on the premise that just and caring communities are sustained by transformational relationships. The center exists to research and promote strategies that strengthen such relationships, especially those involving vulnerable populations.
Union Provost Carla Sanderson described Poe as “an exemplary community servant, deeply devoted minister of the gospel and highly effective teacher of students.”
Scott Huelin, who joined the Union faculty this semester after serving at Valparaiso University’s Christ College, was installed as the founding director of the new Honors Community at Union. The Honors Community at Union will provide highly academically qualified students with the social, intellectual and material resources to develop their unique gifts to the glory of God, Huelin said.
“Union University to is honored to install a keenly perceptive, intellectually gifted and highly creative thinker, Dr. Scott Huelin, to engage this campus, its faculty and its students for a deeper understanding of truth as the founding director of its newly established Honors Community,” Sanderson said.
The final installation was C. Ben Mitchell as the Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy. The position is named in honor of J.R. Graves, a pastor, editor and Union board member who in 1889 made the motion to first admit women students to the university.
Mitchell joined the Union faculty this fall after serving at Trinity International University. He is a leading expert in the fields of bioethics and contemporary culture.
“Like J.R. Graves, Dr. Mitchell can be a man of thunder on matters of moral concern, yet an individual of a gentle and sweet spirit underneath,” Sanderson said.
Courtney Bragg, president of the Student Government Association at Union, addressed the student body during the service.
“Welcome to the place where God has ordained each of us to be – a place where we can love and laugh, cry and grow, teach and be taught,” Bragg said. “A place that some may call a school, but where we call each other family.”
Bragg challenged the students to take the knowledge they will receive during their time at Union and let it stir a passion within them to make the world a better place, starting with their community at Union. She quoted a professor who said that knowledge without passion is legalism, and passion without knowledge is heresy.
“So let us join passion and knowledge together as we seek God’s will for us this year,” Bragg said. “Find a place where your passions and knowledge can be intertwined and actively lived out on our campus. We each have different passions and will be involved in different things, but we serve one God and are a part of one body.”