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Trustees approve record $80 million budget, hear about new faculty hires

Chairman Rod Parker presides over the April 9 trustee meeting. Trustees re-elected Parker to serve as chairman for another year. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Chairman Rod Parker presides over the April 9 trustee meeting. Trustees re-elected Parker to serve as chairman for another year. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

JACKSON, Tenn.April 9, 2010 – Union University trustees approved a record $80 million budget for 2010-2011 -- a 12 percent increase from the previous year – as part of their spring meeting April 9.

Union President David S. Dockery described the budget as both “hopeful and cautious.” “It will help move the university forward in a significant way,” he said.

The budget includes 20 new positions and a reduction in expected revenue from gifts and endowment earnings because of a stalled economy. It allows for various capital expenditures, such as improvements to the Penick Academic Complex.

Also as part of the trustee meeting, Dockery announced several new faculty members who have been hired and will begin their service at Union in the fall of 2010. Among the new hires:

Dockery also recognized four outgoing Union trustees for their years of service to the university: Danny Sinquefield, Ray Newcomb, Ed Graves and Craig Christina.

Trustees also heard from several Union administrators who gave reports about “Renewing Minds: Union 2012,” the three-year strategic plan that trustees adopted in December. The plan emphasizes qualitative enhancements to the university’s work and is designed to help Union reclaim and apply the Christian intellectual tradition in a grace-filled community consisting of students, faculty and staff who love God with their hearts as well as their minds.

In addition to the current construction projects across the campus, the plan calls for Union to construct six new campus housing buildings on the west side of Walker Road. The buildings will be arranged in two quads which will be identical to the quads on the east side of the road that were built after the 2008 tornado destroyed the existing housing complexes. Three buildings, constituting three-fourths of one quad, will be complete by the fall semester of 2010, providing about 150 new residential rooms for students. Three additional buildings in a second quad will be complete by the end of 2012. The final two buildings that will complete each quad will be constructed sometime after 2012.

The plan also calls for a commitment to the further development of Union’s honors and Gateway programs. Gateway is a semester-long course for all incoming freshmen and transfers that provides an introduction to the intellectual life at Union. The class includes four plenary sessions that address such topics as the Christian faith, the university’s liberal arts foundation, cultural engagement and the Christian worldview. Students then in smaller groups, led by various faculty members, spend multiple weeks discussing each of the topics from the plenary sessions and their application to the core curriculum.

The Gateway program, which was revised for the fall of 2009, is designed to strengthen the first-year experience of Union students. The university’s Honors Community, which builds upon the current honors program, is designed to provide highly academically qualified students with the social, intellectual and material resources to develop their gifts. Both the Gateway and honors programs use an inter-disciplinary approach that encourages students to pursue ideas across the academic spectrum rather than just one area of study.

The new plan includes the development of opportunities for Union students to study in international and intercultural contexts, and a strengthening of Union’s commitment to racial reconciliation.

The plan also provides for the construction of a road on the 55 acres of land that Union owns along Interstate 40 at exit 83, as the university continues to develop strategies for the future use of that property. In addition, the plan lays the groundwork for numerous other initiatives at the university to be developed after 2012.

Rod Parker was re-elected as board chairman for the next year.

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

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