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614 students, first pharmacy class graduate from Union University

Houston Wyatt (center), one of 41 graduates from Union’s first School of Pharmacy class, receives his hood from Union Provost Carla Sanderson (left) and Kim Jones (right), assistant dean of students in the School of Pharmacy. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Houston Wyatt (center), one of 41 graduates from Union’s first School of Pharmacy class, receives his hood from Union Provost Carla Sanderson (left) and Kim Jones (right), assistant dean of students in the School of Pharmacy. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

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JACKSON, Tenn.May 19, 2012 – Faithfulness is a characteristic that marks the class of 2012, Union University President David S. Dockery told a group of 614 graduates during Union’s 187th annual spring commencement ceremony May 19 on the university’s Great Lawn.

“This class, in a sense, saved Union University,” Dockery said. “If faith involves believing what we can’t see, then back in Feb. 2008 the students graduating this weekend decided that they would come -- or decided they would still come -- to Union in spite of the fact that the school for the most part was in shambles.”

Dockery referenced the 2008 tornado that caused massive destruction on the Union campus and praised the students, most of them high school seniors at the time, for demonstrating both a sense of faith and faithfulness in choosing to attend Union in the midst of uncertainty.

After enrolling at Union, Dockery said the students in this graduating class quickly became leaders on the campus. He cited several of the class’s achievements, including two national debate championships, three Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature awards, top recognition of journalism students at the Southeast Journalism Conference and four straight TranSouth Conference all-sports trophies, among other accomplishments.

“I think God has blessed them and blessed us abundantly because of their faith to come here. I think many others would have sought a seemingly safer option at that point,” Dockery said. “This class is now prepared in an extraordinary way to live a life of faith from this point forward.”

This year’s graduating class includes the first 41 graduates from Union’s School of Pharmacy. Sheila Mitchell, the founding dean of the school, said that the occasion, while bittersweet, was a tremendous milestone for the program.

“It has been an amazing journey to get to this point,” Mitchell said. “The members of this first class of students were pioneers. They partnered with faculty and staff to develop and implement a new kind of pharmacy program from the ground up -- an innovative program of excellence taught in an environment embracing the Christian intellectual tradition.”

Ashley Turner, one of the pharmacy graduates and president of the graduating class, said the class had a special bond because of all the “firsts” in which they participated. In addition to being “guinea pigs” of sorts for pharmacy classes and residency programs, they in large part determined the culture for School of Pharmacy students.

“I feel like this school in years to come will continue to stand out, and I'll forever be proud to say that this is where I became a pharmacist,” Turner said.

In addition, to the pharmacy students, the class includes the first graduates from the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership program at Union University Hendersonville. One student in that cohort, Camilla Jill Yochim, of Gallatin, Tenn., enrolled in the program because her husband Sid was terminally ill. Her moving story propelled her to pursue a degree that would prepare her to enter the job market.

Sid died in November, but Jill continued with her studies, graduating with honors.

As part of the ceremony, Union presented the Elizabeth Tigrett Medal to Katherine Pullen, an intercultural studies and journalism double major from Jacksonville, Fla. The award honors the mother of Isaac B. Tigrett, a former interim president at Union, as well as a benefactor and trustee. The Medal has been awarded since 1912 by vote of the entire Union faculty to an outstanding member of the senior class.

The university also presented two honorary doctorates – a Doctor of Humanities degree to Bill Latimer, the lead donor for the new library, and a Doctor of Letters to Lloyd Hansen.

Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, delivered the commencement address. She told of her journey from poverty in Virginia, where she didn’t complete high school, to earning five college degrees. Swain told graduates that life can take them in unexpected directions, and she encouraged them to live with boldness and courage.

“Be willing to live and die by the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Swain said. “If you place the fear of God above the fear of man, you can rest in the assurance that you will accumulate treasures in heaven that will far surpass anything you gain by living a life of compromise.”

Such courage is needed, Swain said, because the world is dominated by political correctness, and trusted and respected leaders have abandoned the truth of the Bible for the accolades of men. She told graduates that as true followers of Jesus Christ, they would be hated by the world.

“There is no biblical reason for us to believe that God has changed his mind about sin,” she said. “The Bible is not a living document that changes with the moral standards of a given culture. Rather, it is an eternal document that has clear ‘if … then’ statements about the consequences of sin and the rewards of obedience.”

 

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5/19/12 - Graduates walk alongside faculty members in the processional from the PAC to the Great Lawn for spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Graduates walk alongside faculty members in the processional from the PAC to the Great Lawn for spring graduation. - Kristi McMurry Woody
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5/19/12 - During the 187th annual spring graduation, David S. Dockery, president of the university, told a group of 614 graduates that faithfulness is a characteristic that marks the class of 2012. Here the line of graduates passes Miller Tower on the way to the Great Lawn.
5/19/12 - During the 187th annual spring graduation, David S. Dockery, president of the university, told a group of 614 graduates that faithfulness is a characteristic that marks the class of 2012. Here the line of graduates passes Miller Tower on the way to the Great Lawn. - Morris Abernathy
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5/19/12 - 614 graduates walk past friends and family to the Great Lawn for spring graduation.
5/19/12 - 614 graduates walk past friends and family to the Great Lawn for spring graduation. - Morris Abernathy
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5/19/12 - The bright summer sun casts shadows of the graduates as they walk to the Great Lawn for spring graduation.
5/19/12 - The bright summer sun casts shadows of the graduates as they walk to the Great Lawn for spring graduation. - Morris Abernathy
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5/19/12 - Skyler Vaden, sports management graduate, walks to his seat during the processional at spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Skyler Vaden, sports management graduate, walks to his seat during the processional at spring graduation. - Ebbie Davis
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5/19/12 - Alyssa Karr, broadcast journalism and sociology graduate, and Whitney Jones, journalism graduate, smile as they get ready for spring graduation to begin.
5/19/12 - Alyssa Karr, broadcast journalism and sociology graduate, and Whitney Jones, journalism graduate, smile as they get ready for spring graduation to begin. - Jacob Moore
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5/19/12 - Spring graduates find their seats before the services begin on the Great Lawn on a beautiful summer evening.
5/19/12 - Spring graduates find their seats before the services begin on the Great Lawn on a beautiful summer evening. - Kristi McMurry Woody
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5/19/12 - David S. Dockery, president of the university, welcomes graduates, employees, and guests to spring graduation in front of Miller Tower.
5/19/12 - David S. Dockery, president of the university, welcomes graduates, employees, and guests to spring graduation in front of Miller Tower. - Morris Abernathy
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5/19/12 - Union University Singers perform <em>All Flesh is Grass</em> under the direction of Chris Mathews, associate professor of music and department chair, during spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Union University Singers perform All Flesh is Grass under the direction of Chris Mathews, associate professor of music and department chair, during spring graduation. - Morris Abernathy
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5/19/12 - Luke Allison and Jessica Attig, mathematics graduates, bow their heads during the opening prayer at spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Luke Allison and Jessica Attig, mathematics graduates, bow their heads during the opening prayer at spring graduation. - Ebbie Davis
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5/19/12 - 614 graduates gather with friends and family on the great lawn for spring graduation.
5/19/12 - 614 graduates gather with friends and family on the great lawn for spring graduation. - Kristi McMurry Woody
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5/19/12 - Carol M. Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, delivers the commencement address at spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Carol M. Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, delivers the commencement address at spring graduation. - Morris Abernathy
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5/19/12 - Carol M. Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, gives the commencement address at spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Carol M. Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, gives the commencement address at spring graduation. - Jacob Moore
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5/19/12 - Graduates, their family and friends, and Union employees fill the Great Lawn during spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Graduates, their family and friends, and Union employees fill the Great Lawn during spring graduation. - Morris Abernathy
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5/19/12 - Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, addresses the graduating class of 2012 at spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, addresses the graduating class of 2012 at spring graduation. - Ebbie Davis
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5/19/12 - Rachel Taylor, elementary education graduate, high-fives Cooper Rawls, physical education and health graduate, after receiving her diploma during spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Rachel Taylor, elementary education graduate, high-fives Cooper Rawls, physical education and health graduate, after receiving her diploma during spring graduation. - Zac Calvert
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5/19/12 - Darren Awender receives his doctor of pharmacy degree at spring graduation. The pharmacy class of 2012 was the first group to complete the program.
5/19/12 - Darren Awender receives his doctor of pharmacy degree at spring graduation. The pharmacy class of 2012 was the first group to complete the program. - Jacob Moore
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5/19/12 - Keta Patel receives her doctor of pharmacy degree from David S. Dockery, president of the university, during spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Keta Patel receives her doctor of pharmacy degree from David S. Dockery, president of the university, during spring graduation. - Jacob Moore
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5/19/12 - Katherine Pullen, Tigrett Medal recipient, walks forward to receive her award at spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Katherine Pullen, Tigrett Medal recipient, walks forward to receive her award at spring graduation. - Ebbie Davis
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5/19/12 - Katherine Pullen, intercultural studies and journalism graduate, smiles after receiving the Tigrett Medal at spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Katherine Pullen, intercultural studies and journalism graduate, smiles after receiving the Tigrett Medal at spring graduation. - Kristi McMurry Woody
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5/19/12 - William Latimer, III, major donor for the new library project, receives an honorary doctor of humanities degree at spring graduation.
5/19/12 - William Latimer, III, major donor for the new library project, receives an honorary doctor of humanities degree at spring graduation. - Jacob Moore
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5/19/12 - William Latimer, III, receives an honorary doctor of humanities degree during spring graduation.
5/19/12 - William Latimer, III, receives an honorary doctor of humanities degree during spring graduation. - Kristi McMurry Woody
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5/19/12 - Lloyd Hansen receives an honorary doctor of letters degree during spring graduation.
5/19/12 - Lloyd Hansen receives an honorary doctor of letters degree during spring graduation. - Morris Abernathy
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5/19/12 - David S. Dockery, president of the university, leads a round of applause in appreciation for Barbara McMillin, associate provost and dean of instruction. McMillin has been named the new president of Blue Mountain College.
5/19/12 - David S. Dockery, president of the university, leads a round of applause in appreciation for Barbara McMillin, associate provost and dean of instruction. McMillin has been named the new president of Blue Mountain College. - Jacob Moore
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5/19/12 - A series of seven images merged to show the great lawn full of students, family, faculty and staff gathered for May Commencement service.
5/19/12 - A series of seven images merged to show the great lawn full of students, family, faculty and staff gathered for May Commencement service. - Morris Abernathy

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

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