JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 9, 2004 – Union University’s 179th graduating class added 230 new members during the Aug. 7 ceremony, bringing the total to a record 820 graduates for the 2003-2004 academic year. The first 25 graduates of the doctoral program in educational leadership were among those awarded diplomas in the Saturday commencement service.
“Recognizing that Union graduated over 800 students in undergraduate and graduate programs, including Union's first Ed.D. graduates, in this one academic year is a significant moment in the life of this university,” President David S. Dockery said. “It symbolizes the growth both quantitatively and qualitatively. It points to the outstanding caliber of students and faculty on this campus. The increase in graduation rates communicates the growing retention rates in all of our programs.”
The commencement address, titled “Which Way is Home?” was delivered by Dr. Thomas R. Rosebrough, dean of the College of Education and Human Studies.
Rosebrough began with a special word for graduates earning the doctorate in educational leadership. “You symbolize in the most vivid way our university’s paradigm of higher education that combines faith, teaching and scholarship. You are here because you have persevered.”
According to Rosebrough, the limits of our values as a society have been tested by the “knowledge explosion” in the 20th century, and continued changes are expected to make the next century equally unrecognizable to residents of the present one. “Futurists have little faith that education can be guided by ideas from the past such as the liberal arts,” he said, “and they may be right if higher education continues to separate character forming education from the liberal arts.”
In asking “Which way is home for America as we consider the state of education?”, Rosebrough implored graduates to consider a return to “good education,” signified by moral and ethical education that combines “head and heart” knowledge.
“Although the head is important, the heart is everlasting,” he said. “People in any profession, not just teaching, who care about helping other people are going to be successful in their profession and in life.”
After receiving diplomas, each doctoral graduate took part in a special hooding ceremony. Doctoral program directors Dr. Michelle Atkins of the Jackson campus, and Dr. Randy Shadburn of Germantown, placed the doctoral hoods over the head of each graduate before he or she left the stage. Graduates receiving master’s degrees were hooded in a separate ceremony prior to the commencement service.
Two Union faculty members seated on the platform rose to give congratulatory hugs as graduating family members crossed the stage. Dr. Kelvin Moore, professor of Christian Studies, gave the invocation and also saw his wife, Cathy Moore, receive the education specialist degree. Dr. James Patterson, associate dean for Christian Studies, presented the benediction following the graduation of his daughter Rebekah Patterson Lollar with the master of education.
Dockery said of the graduating class, “To think about the impact that these students can have in the next steps of their lives as they leave this place is amazing. We are thankful for this day and its significance across the university.”