JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 27, 2007 – Daniel Qiu met Union University President David S. Dockery last summer while Dockery and other Union leaders were in Qingdao, China, for a conference on higher education.
“Daniel was a young man who was looking for a Christian education when he went to the university level,” Dockery said. “Already, as a junior in high school, he understood what was taking place in the culture, not only in his country, but around the world. He grew up in a context that’s governed by fate, by fortune, by a belief in gods, but not the God.”
And yet Dockery said that Qiu had a mature faith in Jesus Christ, and realized that life was governed by God’s providence, and not by fate or fortune.
Qiu’s relationship with Dockery ultimately led him to Union University. On Aug. 25, Qiu joined with about 475 other freshmen in moving into their student housing rooms as part of Union’s annual Freshman Move-In Day. Dozens of upperclassmen, faculty and staff were on hand to help the freshmen unpack their vehicles and get settled into their new home.
This year’s freshman class is the most geographically diverse and academically talented class in Union’s history. The average ACT score for the class is nearly 26, with 79 students scoring a 30 or higher on the test. The class includes 62 Scholars of Excellence students (Union’s most elite scholarship), up from 38 last year.
“It appears we will be opening our doors to a record number of freshmen and transfer students,” said Rich Grimm, Union’s vice president for enrollment services. “As word of Union’s reputation for excellence continues to spread nationally, it is certainly reflected in the quality of our incoming class.”
Total enrollment for the fall semester is projected at about 3,300, including about 600 new traditional undergraduate students. Official enrollment figures will be available in early September.
Katie Shatzer, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is one of the Scholars of Excellence students in the freshman class. Shatzer said she looked at Northwestern University in Chicago and the University of Iowa, but only applied at Union.
“I really like that it’s a Christian school, but it doesn’t strike me as the stereotypical Christian school,” Shatzer said.
Shatzer said that in addition to its Christian commitment, Union is still a school that values intellectual inquiry where she can get a good education.
For Qiu, a major consideration in a private Christian school was how committed it was to its Christian faith and mission.
“Union was a school that was really unique from the rest,” Qiu said. “Most schools have a very strong Christian commitment and are lacking in strong academics, or the other way around. Union was surprisingly excellent in both areas.”
After a day of unpacking, the new students and their families gathered in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel for a specially-designed worship service. Greg Thornbury, dean of the School of Christian Studies, challenged the students to seize the educational opportunity before them to fulfill God’s design for their lives.
“It’s a beautiful thing to see somebody coming into God’s design for them,” Thornbury said. “You were designed by God for great things. You were created to be holy. You were created to be wise. You were made to find exactly the right place for you in the kingdom of the heavens which is already right now at work in power among us.”
Thornbury also told students that God had placed them at Union University at this specific time, to honor certain things, “most greatly, the ancient faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
At the conclusion of the service, the incoming students sat in the middle of the chapel, while parents, returning students and Union faculty and staff encircled them. Union University President David Dockery then led in prayer for students and their families.