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Dockery notes highlights, cultural challenges in annual report to Union trustees

Norm Hill (right), chairman of Union's Board of Trustees, presents a plaque to Gary Carter, senior vice president for business services, during the trustees' Nov. 30 meeting. Trustees recognized Carter and three other Union administrators with awards named in their honor. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Norm Hill (right), chairman of Union's Board of Trustees, presents a plaque to Gary Carter, senior vice president for business services, during the trustees' Nov. 30 meeting. Trustees recognized Carter and three other Union administrators with awards named in their honor. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

JACKSON, Tenn.Dec. 3, 2012 – Union University trustees at their Nov. 30 meeting heard a positive report from Union President David S. Dockery about the institution’s operations and recognized several employees for their contributions.

Dockery made a brief presentation summarizing the 409-page annual report to trustees, citing institutional highlights for the year, such as a 15th straight year of increasing enrollment, a new partnership with the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board for educating church planters and the university’s financial health.

“This is a doxological kind of thing for us, to give thanks to the Lord for what he has done,” Dockery told trustees about the report.

Dockery also touched on some significant cultural challenges facing the university, including questions about whether higher education in general is worth the cost, religious liberty issues and a growing support for same-sex marriage.

“It is a different day for us, and it requires that we think more strategically about our work,” Dockery said.

Given the trends that are moving against Christians, Dockery said it’s becoming increasingly necessary for believers to think of themselves as missionaries in a foreign and sometimes hostile land.

Norm Hill, the chairman of Union’s Board of Trustees, said in receiving the report trustees should be thankful to God for his blessings on the university, be prayerful for God’s continued provision and be generous in their giving.

“Even in this dark world, we’re encouraged about how God will use Union as a beacon of light,” Hill said.

To honor four administrators, trustees approved name changes for four different items. The Faculty Member of the Year Award was renamed the Carla D. Sanderson Faculty Member of the Year Award. Sanderson is provost and executive vice president for strategic initiatives. The Staff Member of the Year Award was renamed the Gary L. Carter Staff Member of the Year Award in recognition of Union’s senior vice president for business services.

The Center for Educational Practice becomes the Thomas Rosebrough Center for Educational Practice, honoring Union’s executive dean of the College of Education and Human Studies, while the financial aid award for students who participate in study abroad opportunities will be called the Cynthia P. Jayne Global Studies Fellowship, in honor of the associate provost for intercultural and international studies.

The board recognized former trustee Morris Chapman and current trustee Frank Page with photos that will be placed on the “Wall of Southern Baptist Convention Presidents.” Located in the Penick Academic Complex, the display honors SBC presidents who have made significant contributions to the life of the university.

Trustees acknowledged two new members to the board – Bill Dement and Danny Sinquefield – both of whom have previously served as trustees. They also honored Steve Beverly, associate professor of communication arts, for the 1,000 episode of “Jackson 24/7,” a daily, student-produced news program that Beverly began and oversees.

Trustees heard from other senior administrators on various topics. Carter provided a status report on the new library project, for which Union broke ground in April. Calling the facility a “very, very complex building,” Carter said design of the dome has caused delays in the project, but he expects construction documents to be complete within the next week.

Once the construction documents are finished, Carter said, the university will begin a bidding process for subcontractors that is expected to take about six weeks. He said early February is a likely target date for construction to begin.

Gene Fant, vice president for academic administration, reported on the status of “Illuminating Minds: Union 2015,” the three-year strategic plan trustees adopted in April. The plan contains seven priorities, including a continued commitment to Union’s mission and core values, strengthening and expanding academic and co-curricular programs, expanding and renovating its physical plant and developing a vision for regional, national and global engagement.

Sanderson and Jayne presented information regarding a new travel policy for Union students, faculty and staff, which trustees approved.

Kimberly Thornbury, senior vice president for student services, presented statistics gleaned from various student satisfaction surveys indicating areas where Union rated significantly higher than other similar institutions. Union students were especially pleased with faculty and staff, campus life, academic support and the campus’ comfort and appearance, among other areas, Thornbury said.

Jerry Tidwell, senior vice president for university relations, updated trustees on the university’s transition to NCAA Division II, while Sanderson and Jim Avery, associate vice president for information technology, updated them on the status of Union’s technology.

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

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