JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 14, 2013 – Graduating from Union University is a dangerous act – not for the graduates, but for the culture in which they live, Michael Duduit told Union grads Dec. 14 in the fall commencement service at West Jackson Baptist Church.
“Your time at Union has equipped you to be the kind of influencer who reshapes culture, who can make a defense for the hope that is in you in every walk of life,” said Duduit, dean of the College of Christian Studies at Anderson University. “That makes you dangerous.”
Three-hundred fifty-two students received their degrees during the ceremony, making it the largest December graduation in Union’s history.
As part of the service, Union presented the Robert E. Craig Service Award to the Dement family – Sonny and Beth Dement and Bill and Katherine Dement. The award is named after Union’s 13th president, who led the university for nearly two decades and was responsible for reestablishing Union with the churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Craig was also responsible for relocating the university campus to north Jackson.
The Craig Award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the university.
The Dements are the owners of Dement Construction Co. Bill currently serves on the Union Board of Trustees. The Dements helped clean the campus following tornadoes in 2002 and 2008 and were involved in key building projects – most notably Miller Tower.
“They have been generous to this institution at all the right times,” Union President David S. Dockery said. “They have helped bring the campus master plan into reality by being a part of those projects along the way.”
Also as part of the ceremony, the university awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree to Dockery, who will soon become the university’s chancellor after serving as president for the past 18 years.
Gene Fant, Union’s executive vice president for academic administration, said that although Dockery has a Doctor of Philosophy degree, the Doctor of Letters is typically seen as an even higher achievement.
“The Doctor of Letters recognizes accomplishments in the fields of scholarship and education that well exceed the norms for professors,” Fant said. “(Dockery) is the very embodiment of a teaching scholar who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of and elucidation of the truth as revealed in Christ.”
Duduit, who served as Union’s executive vice president during the early years of the Dockery administration, said Union graduates are dangerous because they are prepared to combat assertions from “the secular culture-shapers of our age” whose ultimate goal is the banishment of God from the public sector.
“You are dangerous because you have recognized that there is one who stands over and above it all, guiding history yet intimately aware of each individual life,” Duduit said. “That knowledge makes you dangerous, because as you move into new walks of life armed with that worldview, you are a threat to the secularizing forces of the age.”
Due to inclement weather, all Union campuses will be closed on Thursday, March 5, with all day and evening classes canceled.
The wellness center will open at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m., and the aquatic center will be open from 1-3 p.m.
Friday's Preview Day has been canceled.
Nathan Shoemaker's junior recital has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Hartley Recital Hall.
Brewer Dining Hall will be open from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. for continuous service.