JACKSON, Tenn. – July 26, 2014 – The 2013-14 academic year came to an official close at Union University July 26, as 186 students received degrees at summer commencement.
About 1,170 students have received Union University degrees during ceremonies in December, May and July.
The summer graduation, at West Jackson Baptist Church, included a large number of non-traditional and graduate students. Among the fields represented were organizational leadership, nursing, education, business administration, social work and theology and missions.
The event also marked the first time President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver has presided over a graduation ceremony at Union. Oliver officially became Union’s 16th president on June 1. Irene Arnold, an organizational management major from Hendersonville, Tenn., became the first Union student to receive a degree from Oliver.
Provost Emeritus Carla D. Sanderson, who retired May 31, delivered the commencement address, entitled “Headline News: Your God Reigns.” She urged the graduates to think not in terms of their own limitations, but rather in terms of what God can do through them.
“When faithfulness is most difficult, it is most necessary,” Sanderson said. “We are prone to wander, prone to think, ‘there is no way up and out of the downward spiral our nation appears to be in, there is no way for peace in the Middle East, no way these children born into poverty will ever rise above it.’ I pray the words of Mark 9:24, ‘Father, Help my unbelief.’ Find me faithful.”
Sanderson said each person must find the specific role to which he or she has been called, and then work to fulfill that calling. She acknowledged that the process is difficult.
“The world is established, firm and secure, even as the fragmentation we’ve created threatens at every turn,” Sanderson said. “What is your vocational identity? What is it that you must do? Do it wholeheartedly, as unto the Lord, with steadfastness and forbearance.”
She concluded her comments by urging the graduates to start finding their life callings immediately.
“Do not hold back, do not wait – commencement means to begin,” Sanderson said. “Work with the reminder that God is on His throne.”