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Union University News

New music chair receives high notes of praise from students

JACKSON, Tenn.Sept. 17, 2002 – James Richard Joiner, Ph.D. – if you’ve come through the music department at Union University any time this semester the name will sound very familiar along with the undercurrent of excitement to the words. After a year spent waiting and wondering who would fill the position by Union students and faculty, Joiner, who has taught music for more than 20 years, started his first semester this fall as professor, department chair, and director of choral activities for Union.

Joiner says it was the focus of the university which was so well defined by everyone with whom he spoke that helped him make the decision to leave a 22-year career at a sister Baptist institution and continue his teaching at Union.

“Every faculty member, every administrator, appeared to be sold on its mission and it’s difficult to find a university with a purpose so clearly defined,” said Joiner. “It just drew me here.”

Now that Joiner has had a chance to work with the students and faculty, he says his impressions are that Union is even more focused than what he first thought.

Dr. Richard Joiner leads the Union University Singers through a performance during the university's Sixth Annual Scholarship Banquet held in October.

Dr. Richard Joiner leads the Union University Singers through a performance during the university's Sixth Annual Scholarship Banquet held in October.

“I am intrigued by the amount of support for faculty development that is given to the faculty, the interest in growth, both personally and professionally, and the interest in designing new courses and new curricula,” said Joiner. “This is a very intriguing atmosphere and I’m very interested in what is going to happen in the next few years.”

Joiner’s plans for the music department include an increase in growth, scholarship for faculty, attraction of new students to the department and an increase in all of the various majors within the music program.

“The vocal and choral areas are always going to be strong at a college such as ours, it’s typical, but we cannot exist without strong instrumental departments and keyboard departments,” believes Joiner. “I want to see the growth continue for them as well. I want to build some fine choral ensembles here and a reputation for fine choral ensembles that do everything from great masterworks to gospel.”

“Dr. Joiner runs a top-notch outfit,” said junior Sarah Thompson from Arkadelphia, Ark. “He expects us to be the best that we can be and his goal for excellence will push us to be the best musicians as well. He makes rehearsals where we accomplish a lot and have fun in the process.”

“I think he is a really awesome director and an asset to this department,” said sophomore Rachel Sebby of Yorkville, Ill. “I think he’s going to help us grow so much from last year.”

Joiner, chair of Union's Department of Music leads in his first commencement service at the university.

Joiner, chair of Union's Department of Music leads in his first commencement service at the university.

“We’re really excited about Dr. Joiner becoming part of the Union family,” added sophomore Brennan Uthe of Hudsonville, Mich. “He has the unique gift of balancing professionalism with fun, inside and outside the classroom.”

So it is that Joiner is being welcomed with open arms to his new home amidst the Union family and it is with great anticipation that the students and faculty alike look towards the future and the growth all hope to have occur there.

“I was very stimulated by the opportunity to work at this position and the opportunity offered me,” said Joiner. “I felt and continue to feel that I will grow a great deal through this portion of my career – after all, if I’m not growing, I don’t need to be teaching.”

By Alaina Kraus, Class of 2004


Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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