JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 19, 2011 – Eric Leisey of Lititz, Pa., may live a long way from Union University, but he was no stranger to the campus.
His sister Melissa attended Union and is now a graduate student at the university. His brother David is a junior. And on Aug. 19, Eric joined about 500 other freshmen who moved onto the Union campus to begin their collegiate experience. Scores of upperclassmen, faculty and staff were on hand to help the new students unpack their vehicles and get settled into their new home.
“I think the biggest thing was the people,” Leisey said about why he chose Union. “Everybody was nice, everybody was welcoming. That was the nicest thing. I liked that a lot – good, personal contact with people here.”
Another freshman, Morgan Kroeger, also came to Union from quite a distance – Tempe, Ariz. Like Leisey, she said Union’s emphasis on being people-focused (one of the school’s four core values) attracted her.
“I was really looking for a Christian college to attend, because I really want higher education that involves God in my life,” Kroeger said. “When I came to visit, I fell in love not only with the campus, but with the people. Everyone was so nice, and I’ve had a great experience. That did it for me.”
Rich Grimm, Union’s senior vice president for enrollment services, said this was the third straight year for Union to register more than 500 freshmen, and that the class as a whole was exceptionally strong academically. The average ACT score for the incoming class is about 26.
All told, Union welcomed about 650 new traditional undergraduate students to campus.
“It has been our privilege to serve these students and their families as they progressed through the enrollment process,” Grimm said. “We look forward now to watching them assimilate into the Union community, and we anticipate great things as they follow God’s will for their lives. May the Lord be with each of them.”
After moving into their campus apartments, students spent the rest of the day in a variety of orientation activities, such as purchasing textbooks, meeting with financial aid and business office representatives, hearing an introduction from Union President David S. Dockery and meeting with their small Focus groups (Focus is Union's four-day orientation program).
In the evening, the new students and their families gathered in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel for a specially-designed worship service. Greg Thornbury, Union’s vice president for spiritual life and dean of the School of Theology and Missions, challenged students to understand the importance of their education in light of Stephen’s comment in his martyrdom speech in Acts 7 that Moses was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.”
Like Moses, Thornbury told the new students they were getting an education to take part of something greater than themselves. He said Union existed to extend the kingdom of God by recovering the great Christian intellectual tradition that has resulted in a flourishing society “in which our leaders can do what fewer and fewer men and women seem willing to do: lead for the sake of the gospel.”
A Union tradition completed the service. Incoming students sat in the middle of the chapel, while parents, returning students and Union faculty and staff encircled them. Dockery then led in prayer for students and their families.
“We are delighted with the quality of the students who have chosen to attend Union University,” Dockery said. “These students are coming to Union from around this region and all across the country because of the distinctive mission, excellent faculty and caring staff of this place. We wish the best for each and every student and trust God’s blessings on their time on this campus.”