Christmas with the Olivers

Each generation of students seems to create its own traditions, most likely brought on by changes in what’s considered “cool.” However, there are some traditions that rise above the cultural shifts and remain solid from year to year. One of those generation-spanning traditions is the reading of the Christmas story by the president. This year was the 18th time this event has occurred, but the first time it was called Christmas with the Olivers.

Christmas with the Olivers took place in the McAfee Commons, which was decorated with lights and stocked with plenty of cookies and hot cocoa. Students piled onto the couches, chairs and even the floor as Dr. Dub and Susie made their way in. To start off Dr. Dub asked students to share a few of their favorite Christmas traditions, which ranged from cooking special dishes to adding a new ornament to the tree with family. Next the entire group joined in singing a few carols such as Deck the Halls and The First Noel. Dr. Dub then took a minute to document the crowd (he tweeted the photo later). To wrap up the evening Dr. Dub read both The Night Before Christmas and Luke 2, followed by another carol, Silent Night, during which everyone gathered closely together and locked arms. It was a truly special evening, where students were able to celebrate Christmas with the president and first lady.

Dr. Dub speaking to residence life employees before the event

Students gathered in the commons to fellowship with the president and first lady

Dr. Dub chatting with students before the Christmas Story.

Dr. Dub leads in some Christmas Carols.

Dr. Dub and Susie singing carols with students.

Susie Oliver, first lady of Union, singing carols with students.

Dr. Dub leaning back to get a photo of the crowd of students in the commons.

Dr. Dub reading A Night Before Christmas.

Dr. Dub reading A Night Before Christmas

Hot chocolate mugs resting on the table by the president.

Dr. Dub reading Night Before Christmas.

Dr. Dub reading a passage from Luke 2.

Dr. Dub and Susie singing one final carol with students.

Dr. Dub and Susie standing in a circle with students singing a Christmas song.

Meet Our Student Bloggers

Throughout this semester, we’ve had a few students pen some blog posts about their first year at Union. The students have done a great job portraying what it’s like to be here, and we are looking forward to hearing even more from them next semester. We thought it would be nice to have a proper introduction to these wonderful students who have given so willingly of their time to blog for us, so without further ado, meet our bloggers!

Josiah Murphy headshot Josiah Murphy, freshman Christian studies major.

  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – corn nuggets
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – Waffle House
  • Favorite movie – Forrest Gump
  • Hidden talent – It’s still hidden from me!
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – Jamaica
  • Why I picked Union – I picked Union because during my visit I met a group with whom I immediately connected and wanted to spend time. My sister also attended Union and the school treated us all like family and I really appreciated that.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Greek life; Student Ambassador; Buster the Bulldog mascot

Chandler Bell headshot Chandler Bell, freshman accounting major

  • Favorite band – Coldplay
  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – Wrap Wednesday
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – Kroger
  • Favorite book – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Hidden talent – It wouldn’t be hidden if I told you
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – El Salvador
  • Why I picked Union – The community here is something you can’t find anywhere else.  You’re genuinely cared for.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Freshman council and Greek Life

EmilyJohnson-200 Emily Johnson, freshman biology major

  • Favorite band – Right now, probably the Oh Hellos, although it will likely change in a week!
  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – the mac and cheese, for sure
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – I enjoy going to Alba, a coffee shop downtown. It is definitely the best place to study off campus. Plus, their coffee is incredible!
  • Favorite book – Right now, one of my favorite books is Manalive by G.K. Chesterton.
  • Hidden talent – I am creepily adept at picking objects up with my feet.
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – The glorious Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
  • Why I picked Union – Both my sisters had the privilege of attending Union, and I fell in love with it through them! Union is genuinely Christ-centered, and the community is welcoming and encouraging. I can’t imagine going to school anywhere else!
  • Extracurricular Activities – Student Government Association

StevenCutliff-200Stephen Cutliff, freshman international business major

  • Favorite band – Maroon 5, Rascal Flatts, and Mumford And Sons
  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – pepperoni pizza and french fries
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – movie theater (Jackson 16)
  • Favorite book – the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher
  • Hidden talent – I’m really flexible
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – Neply, Haiti
  • Why I picked Union – I really wanted to go to a Christian college. Union seemed like a college that really cared about me. They also offered good scholarships and I was able to get a job on campus.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Student Activities Council and Men’s Choir

Yee Eun Lee headshot Yee Eun Lee, freshman pre-professional major

  • Favorite musician – Bruno Mars
  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – chocolate ice cream
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – Alba (coffee shop downtown)
  • Hidden talent – rugby, I was on my high school’s team
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – Philippines and Korea
  • Why I picked Union – God called me to come to Union
  • Extracurricular Activities – BIOME, SMACS (American Chemical Society), and the International Students Organization

From Differential Equations to Bank President, Grisham Values his Union Education

gary grisham headshotGary Grisham looks back on his time at Union with a sense of accomplishment – especially in one particular area.

“My highest academic achievement was passing Richard Dehn’s differential equations class,” Grisham says.

Nearly 40 years later, Dehn is still teaching math at Union, and the skills he taught to Grisham have paid off. Grisham is now the chairman and CEO of The Bank of Jackson and a strong supporter of Union University.

“I’ve always thought of my diploma as a stock certificate – that I actually own a piece of the campus,” Grisham says. “I think I’ve truly gotten a great return, if you look at in the financial sense. I do believe my degree is worth more today than it was even when I finished.”

A native of Memphis, Grisham transferred to Union after two years at a community college. He played baseball his junior year and basketball both his junior year and senior year. Baseball proved to be a bit of a stumbling block to him, because he failed Dehn’s class as a junior – which Grisham attributes to several missed classes because of baseball games.

Grisham with his college basketball teammates

Grisham pictured here with his basketball teammates. He is on the bottom row, third from the right.

His senior year, he didn’t play baseball specifically so he could focus on that pesky differential equations class. He made a B.

Grisham graduated in 1975, a member of the last graduating class on the old Union campus. He met his wife Susan while he was a Union student, and their daughter Mallory followed in their footsteps, graduating in 2009 with a nursing degree.

Through the years, Grisham’s love for Union has continued to grow.

“Union has always been a highly respected, highly regarded institution of higher learning,” he says. “Today, its light shines brighter than ever.”

 

Grisham's basketball photo and a photo of him escorting his wife at homecoming

Grisham escorting Susan Pittman, whom he would later marry, at a homecoming game | Grisham’s basketball portrait.

Grisham in his office

Grisham in his office

Grisham chatting with bank employees

Union basketball boasts tremendous start for 2014-2015 season

Post by: Lydia Wright, senior public relations major

The men’s and women’s basketball teams are both undefeated after the first three weeks of competition. With conference play beginning this week, both teams hope to make a statement in the Gulf South Conference as they are eligible for NCAA Division II postseason play for the first time.

The men’s team is currently 6-0 with one of those wins coming from an overtime victory against Stillman College on Nov. 22, as part of the University of Alabama Huntsville Classic. Senior guard Corieon Pearson hit a three pointer with 20 seconds left in overtime to give the Bulldogs the lead, 79-78, and ultimately the victory.

Senior guard, Pedro Faller, looks for a pass in the homecoming game

The Bulldogs have reached 90 plus points twice already this season, as they scored 99 points in their season opener against Lemoyne-Owen College and 96 points in the win against Rust College.

The men’s team opens conference play against Shorter University on Friday, Dec. 4, in Rome, Georgia, followed by another conference game, Saturday, Dec. 5, at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.

As for the women’s team, while most students were at home visiting family over Thanksgiving Break, the Lady Bulldogs traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to participate in the Nova Southeastern Classic. At the time, Nova was ranked number one in all of NCAA Division II.

Amy Philamlee, senior sports medicine major, plays defense

On Friday, Nov. 29, the Lady Bulldogs faced off against Sunshine State Conference member, Barry University, (Fla.) with the women coming out victorious, 70-61.

Saturday brought the second and final match of the tournament for the Lady Bulldogs, as they were set to play the host team, Nova. The Bulldogs came out victorious once again, beating the top team in the nation 83-78.

The two wins at Nova brought the Lady Bulldogs to an overall record of 4-0, making a combined record of 10-0 for Bulldog basketball so far this season. Along with the men’s team, the women will also face off against Shorter and Lee University this coming weekend.

With the way these two teams have begun playing, the GSC teams look like they are in for some tough competition from the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs this season.

Topping Out Ceremony for the Library

Many people may not have heard of a “topping out,” but it’s quite a neat event during the construction of a building. The idea behind this tradition is to celebrate the pinnacle of a building project, which in our case is the new library. To commemorate laying the final steel beam on the structure, students, faculty, staff and alumni signed their names to the beams. In addition, we heard from several key people at the university and prayed for God’s blessing over the remainder of construction. To learn more about this event, check out our news release.

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Campus and Community- A Day of Remembrance and Service

Post by Matthew Marshall, director for service and diversity initiatives

Philippians 2 tells us that we are to always live with the mind of Christ, who although He was God, became a servant for our sake.  So, we are to do likewise by offering ourselves in service to others.  Campus and Community Day is just one example of how we get to do that.  At times Christianity can get a bad rap in the media, so what a great opportunity to demonstrate some of the good we do, the love we demonstrate and the merciful God we serve.

Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service also allows Union to show its appreciation to the community in return for its assistance to us after tornadoes hit our campus in 2002, 2003, and 2008.  It gives us the opportunity to say to the community, “Thank you!”  It also affords us yet another occasion to tangibly embody the mission of the University to serve church and society.  On this day our campus can follow in the way of Christ by placing others above ourselves, and serving even as He served.

We had about 900 volunteers go out into the community to serve, and they worked at over 50 different locations.  Faculty, staff and students served at retirement villages, local schools, churches, shelters, and at private residences.

More information about Campus and Community Day can be found in the official news release

Photos below by Kristi Woody, web design specialist, and MiKalla Cotton, student photographer.

Students work at ROAR, an after school program Tina Netland mops the floor during a service project Students do yard work at East Elementary School Morgan Morfe helps with yard work for Campus and Community Day Scott Heit tapes off a room to be painted during a service project A group from the university paints a room at ROAR, an after school program Students and staff work together on a service project Students work on a community service project at an elementary school

First Year at UU – Adjusting to Life in the US

Yee Eun Lee headshot

Post by Yee Eun Lee, freshman pre-professional major

During the first four months at Union, I have made the biggest transition of my life. I didn’t realize how difficult and exciting it would be not only to live on my own, but also to live in a new country.

I have travelled all the way from the Philippines to come to Union University. Having lived in the Philippines for 19 years, I have to say, adjusting to America was quite challenging. I remember having difficulty adjusting to the deep-fried food. Even though I love eating anything that is deep-fried, the sudden change in diet was a shock to my system. Also, when I was talking to my fellow freshmen friends, I could understand them perfectly until I heard someone with a Southern accent. I could only pick up a couple of phrases and words they would say, but overall, I had no clue what they were saying. Another major difficulty I faced was seasonal changes in Jackson. Since the Philippines is a tropical country, it only has two seasons: rain and more rain. As the weather here in Jackson is slowly getting colder, I always have to wear at least three layers of clothes to keep me warm between my walks to PAC from my dorm.

Yee Eun Lee and her friends

Despite the difficulties I had in adjusting to America, I have been able to adjust smoothly, thanks to my Union family. Many of the upperclassmen helped me adjust to America by mapping out where the banks, restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores are located. They were always willing to give me rides and even tell me crazy stories of their adventures around town. Other international students also helped me adjust by telling me the struggles that they went through during their freshman year. My roommates have also been amazing, because they continuously cheer me on and make me laugh with their jokes and fear of spiders.

I am blessed to have experienced even the difficult times, because through them I have grown so much. I have learned that no matter how hard our current situation is, God will always provide a way. This doesn’t mean that I have fully adjusted to America; in fact, I don’t know if I will ever fully adjust. One thing I know for sure is that God has placed me at Union University with many people who care, and I am truly blessed to be a part of the Union family.

Photos of Yee Eun Lee with her friends at Union

 

First Year at UU – SAC Behind the Scenes

StevenCutliff-200Post by Steven Cutliff, freshman international business major

My name is Steven Cutliff, and I’m a new SACling. By that I mean I’m a first year member of the Student Activities Council. As a SAC member, I got the chance to work the Casey Jones Hullabaloo event earlier this month, and I had so much fun! I believe there is a major difference between what it feels like to attend an event and to be a part of making the event happen. Instead of enjoying an event for the sake of simply having fun, we get to find ways to make our event the most enjoyable for everyone involved.

I’ve heard things described as a person’s “baby” before, and I always thought it was a strange phrase. Now I get it. Hullabaloo was a lot of work, but it was pretty awesome to see a small idea turn into an event the whole student body had the chance to enjoy. Hullabaloo was my baby, and it was amazing to see what it grew into. When the event first started, I was worried that no one would come. All of us SAC members were good to go, with our flannel shirts and work assignments, but there weren’t very many people. I started to panic. I was in charge of the hot chocolate, and though I had rows of steaming cups lined up, people were still trickling in. It turns out it was just the calm before the storm. Soon there were people everywhere I looked! It became a struggle to keep up with the huge demand for hot chocolate. On two separate occasions my job was to inform people that we were completely out and waiting for the staff from The Old Country Store, which is part of Casey Jones Village, to bring us more.

Before the event started, all of the SAC members were admonished to step back, at least once, and just enjoy the night. We were told that if we focused only on what needed to happen we would miss the great things that were going on. I’m so glad I was given that advice. When I did get the chance to take a good look, I saw smiling friends laughing and enjoying tasty treats by the fires, I heard beautiful music being played for a crowd that was enthusiastic in showing its appreciation for the musicians’ efforts, and I felt the crisp air in my lungs. It was great. There was something for everyone. There was even a small bit of mosh pit action towards the end for those who were into that sort of thing (I participated eagerly). It was so fulfilling to know that I had been a part of making this happen. I feel like I got to know each person there just a little bit. If you were at the event, I just want to say “thank you” for making it so wonderful.

10622699_909867229042438_2695180475933457071_nMobile phone photo above courtesy of Erika Borrero

Photos below by Morris Abernathy, staff photographer

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Bulldog Madness – Athletics Season Kickoff

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Post by Katie Woodruff, associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator

If you weren’t at Bulldog Madness last night, you missed out BIG TIME! It was the biggest pep rally and spirit-building opportunity we’ve had in my 12 years at UU. This is going to sound weird, but it was somewhat of an emotional moment for me. To see so many different groups on campus come together as one to support our student-athletes was great!

In addition, to see the culmination of our hard work being enjoyed by all and supported by so many students, in that moment, was so gratifying.

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“It was great to see so many students come together in support of our athletic teams,” senior psychology major Kevin Morgan said. “Last night there weren’t Greeks and indies or athletes and students, we were all Bulldogs.”

Alec Beard, a junior international business major who filled in as dancing Buster, said he enjoyed seeing the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd.

The evening involved black lights, glow sticks, hyped up music, selfies and more energy than I’ve ever felt before in The Fred. We were intentionally building school spirt through a remix of the flash mob from a performance earlier in the day, introduction of a student-led cheer support team called the Fred Fanatics, a performance from the cheerleaders, some minute-to-win-it games, 10-minute scrimmages by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams and a scrimmage between faculty/staff and students.

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Dr. Oliver then led a “Never Forget” cheer on the court, surrounded by all the students.

“It was really neat to see the student body come together for a fun event supporting our basketball teams,” said Jesse Dahms, a junior business management and psychology major. “The blackout was really awesome and a great way to build hype. I think we are excited and ready for this upcoming basketball season.”

What a night! Our hope and desire in athletics is to continue to build school spirit. Bulldog Madness brought different campus groups together — the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, cheerleaders, the student group Fred Fanatics, volunteers from campus organizations and classes as well as student-athletes. It takes synergy to build energy and enthusiasm. I think we are heading in the right direction, and I’m excited.

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Scott Lancaster, multimedia producer, put together this short video of the events from last night:

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Preview Day Gives Visitors an Overview of Union Life

Post by Will Brantley, senior enrollment counselor

A few weeks ago, we posted about our Preview Days and why they are so important. This past Friday, we had the pleasure of hosting around 100 prospective students and their families for one of three Preview Days this semester.

So what makes Preview Day such a fantastic day? Is it the hustle and bustle about campus? The excited students and their families? The really good food? The answer is “all of the above.” Students from all over the country come to see what makes Union so special. The day is packed full of activities such as a campus tour, a chapel service, student and parent panels, visits with professors and lunch with an address from our president, Dub Oliver. I personally love these days because we get to introduce students and their families to this wonderful institution and see them fall in love with this place.

Telling the Union story is one of my favorite things about being an enrollment counselor. Our faculty is one of the best teaching faculties in the entire country, using facilities that are state of the art. Our students are some of the best anywhere. They are winning awards, going on to top-notch graduate programs and participating in ministry here in Jackson and around the world. But perhaps more importantly, we are a tight-knit, close community that loves one another and seeks to honor Christ in everything we do.

Preview Days give prospective students a glimpse into what being a part of Union is really like and gives us a chance to show those students what an amazing community exists here at Union. If you’ve never been to a Union Preview Day and you or a student you know are searching for a home for college, I would urge you to check out Union’s next Preview Day on Nov. 14. You can sign up for a Preview Day on our website at www.uu.edu/campusvisits. Check out the photos below to see what you’ll experience during your visit!

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