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Union announces changes to administrative structure

Union administrators (clockwise, from top left) Carla Sanderson, Greg Thornbury, Gene Fant and Jerry Tidwell are among those taking on different and broader roles in Union's administrative restructuring.
Union administrators (clockwise, from top left) Carla Sanderson, Greg Thornbury, Gene Fant and Jerry Tidwell are among those taking on different and broader roles in Union's administrative restructuring.

JACKSON, Tenn.July 26, 2010 – A new organizational structure will make Union University more efficient and help ensure the sustainability of the institution’s mission and vision in the future, according to Union President David S. Dockery.

“This is an attempt to refine the structure to match the university in the second decade of the 21st century,” Dockery said. “We’re a much different institution in terms of size, scope of mission and depth of programming. This is an attempt to capture all of those in a more coherent structure.”

The most significant changes to the organization are found in the School of Christian Studies, in Union’s external relations and in academic administration. Among the key components to the reorganization include:

-- The School of Christian Studies has become the School of Theology and Missions, and now includes the Campus Ministries office. Dockery said the change more accurately reflects what the university has been doing for several years, and it more clearly communicates Union’s priorities.

Dockery emphasized that Union University is not an institution that places academics on one side and ministry and missions on the other, but is a place where the two go hand-in-hand.

“We’re trying to model for the whole university the combination of academics and faith,” Dockery said. “It’s also a way of Union saying to the churches that we’re serious about being a part of the Great Commission Resurgence efforts in moving missions to the forefront of our thought and activity.”

Greg Thornbury, who has been the founding dean of the School of Christian Studies, will now serve as Union’s vice president for spiritual life and dean of the School of Theology and Missions. He will supervise Campus Ministries, with Taylor Worley serving as associate dean for spiritual life and directing Campus Ministries.

-- Jerry Tidwell, who has been senior vice president for church relations, becomes senior vice president for university relations, with the church relations office moving under the umbrella of the Office of University Relations. Richard Wells, who has been dean of the chapel, becomes vice president for church relations. Also in the Office of University Relations, Doug Walker becomes executive director of Union University Foundation.

In his role as senior vice president for university relations, Tidwell will oversee all of Union’s external relations.

-- Carla Sanderson, who has been Union’s provost, retains that title but also becomes the executive vice president and chief operating officer. In that role, she will have a broader role and will assume a greater responsibility for Union’s day-to-day operations, allowing Dockery’s role to be more focused externally.

She will have four vice presidents reporting to her – Greg Thornbury, Gene Fant, Jimmy Davis and Kimberly Thornbury.

Fant retains his title as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, but also becomes vice president for academic administration and the university’s chief academic officer. The roles of Davis, vice president for regional campuses, and Kimberly Thornbury, vice president for student life and dean of students, will change little.

The changes will allow the Union learning community – consisting of the areas of academic administration, student life, extension education and spiritual life – to be connected as never before, Dockery said.

Also in academic administration, Tom Rosebrough becomes executive dean of the College of Education and Human Studies and will become the leader of the deans of all Union’s six colleges and schools.

“In essence, Dr. Rosebrough is the quarterback, Dr. Fant is the coach and Dr. Sanderson is the general manager,” Dockery said.

Dockery said that students would not notice much of a change in how the university operates under the restructuring. The changes would mostly affect how Union’s leadership functions on a daily basis. Dockery will have four senior vice presidents reporting directly to him in Tidwell, Sanderson, Gary Carter and Rich Grimm. The roles of Carter, senior vice president for business and financial services, and Grimm, senior vice president for enrollment services, will see little change in the new structure.

“We’re looking to be more effective and efficient in how we relate on a day-to-day basis, and we’ve moved everyone into a position of strength in a very complementary fashion,” Dockery said.

He also emphasized the key roles that Union’s younger administrators would have in the new structure.

“We’re blessed to have outstanding leaders on this campus – such including Jerry Tidwell, Greg Thornbury, Gene Fant, Kimberly Thornbury and others -- who still have many years of service to give to Union,” Dockery said. “This new structure is a way to ensure the longevity of the vision and mission of the university.”

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

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