Photos from Union University Summer Graduation

The 2013-14 academic year came to an official close July 26, as 186 students received degrees at summer commencement. We were privileged to hear from Provost Emeritus Carla D. Sanderson, who retired May 31. Please enjoy these photos taken throughout that morning, and read more about the service in our news release.

Dr. Dub Oliver chats with colleagues prior to Summer Commencement.
Graduates celebrate prior to Summer Commencement.
Dr. Dub Oliver files into Summer Commencement.
Ben Williams files in with fellow graduates at Summer Commencement. As graduates file in, Justin Barnard, faculty member of the year, stands next to his colleagues and speakers at Summer commencement.
Dr. Dub Oliver greets graduates and their guests at Summer Commencement.
Carla Sanderson delivers the commencement address. Dr. Dub Oliver gives his very first Union diploma at Summer commencement.
A graduate proudly displays her diploma for nearby family members. A doctoral graduate receives her hood at Summer graduation. Friends and Family of graduates gather in West Jackson Baptist Church for Summer Commencement.

Buster the Bulldog Through the Years

Most people know that the Union University mascot is the bulldog, but a surprising number of people don’t know his name, Buster, or his history. In searching for past photos of Buster, we came across a March 1999 Cardinal & Cream article with some great information about our beloved Buster. The article was written by staff writer Polly Pierce and can be found in Vol. 83 No. 10 of the student newspaper.

“Buster Bulldog. Have you ever thought about where the name “Buster” came from, or even when Union became the home of the Bulldogs?

Union sports and bulldogs were united in 1920. However, from 1922 to 1925, women’s sports were named the Terriers. During this same time, the name Bullpups was given to the school’s freshman football team.

An unofficial live bulldog posing with the cheerleaders in 1967.

An unofficial live bulldog posing with the cheerleaders in 1980. 1980

In 1970, Bill Rozich started his Union career as the Bulldog baseball team’s head coach. Rozich, a former member of the Chicago White Sox, set about to improve the school’s baseball program. The Jackson Sun, the city’s local newspaper, began running a cartoon called ‘Buster Says’ in the sports section to keep fans informed of the results of games and to make special announcements about Union sports.

Buster [the cartoon featured in the paper] was created by Joe McCormick of Malesus, Tenn.. This commercial cartoonist, illustrator and free-lance artist drew Buster from March 1970 until the end of baseball season in 1971.” This indicates that Buster as we know him originated as a sports cartoon in the local newspaper. The idea came from Rozich and was brought to life by McCormick.

The article also mentions that the graduating class of 1998 gifted Union with a live bulldog to serve as the official mascot, and Todd Brady, campus minister, became his caretaker. While there were other bulldogs owned by students and Union friends, this was the first dog officially owned by the school, according to records. Buster continued to come to games and charm everyone he met through the mid-2000s. Since the original Buster’s passing, Union hasn’t had a live bulldog.

Live Buster taking in a gorgeous afternoon outdoors

The live Buster doesn't know what to think about the suit Buster in this 2000 photo.


Our live Buster the Bulldog taking in the attention outdoors


Students pet Buster on move-in day in this 2005 snapshot


One thing this article doesn’t mention is the Buster suit that many students have donned at sporting events since the early 1980s. The first photo of a Buster suit can be found in the 1981 Lest We Forget yearbook, and you can see it change significantly over the years. The original version had a basketball uniform, furry arms and legs and a gigantic head, while the next version featured an open mouth and cute little tongue. We also had a darker brown version in late 80s and early 90s, and later a grey dog.

The first photos of the Buster suit in 1981 and 1982

1981 and 1982

The suit from 1984 along with some shots from 1987.

1984 and 1987

Buster cheering for the team in this 1990 photo.


1990 Mr. Union, Steve Steiner, posing with the Buster outfit he sported.

1990, Steve Steiner

Two photos of an old Buster suit, 1991 and 1995.

1991 and 1995

Buster goofing off on roller skates in this 1994 photo.


Buster doing the YMCA in this 1997 photo.


Buster with the cheerleaders in 1994


Buster goofs off with Steven Curtis Chapman at a concert at Union.


Buster takes a break from cheering in this 2007 photo


The current suit has a distinctly “fierce” look, presumably to intimidate our opponents. Buster is much more than a cheerleader at games. You can find him mingling with the Union family at big events such as move-in day and Union Night, and he is always willing to goof around with anyone.

Buster works the crowd in the left photo and helps on Move-in Day in the right photo.

2009 and 2011

Buster gets the crowd excited during the NAIA tournament.


Buster the Bulldog leads the crowd in cheers when the NCAA logo is unveiled at Union Night, Sept. 28.


If you have photos of Buster during your years at Union, we would love to see them! Share them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag Union University.


Department of Music Hosts Children’s Summer Camp


For the past several years, the Department of Music has hosted a popular summer camp for children in grades 1-8. The department has worked with over 140 students this past week for the 2014 camp. Each year the children are divided into groups based on their ages, and they participate in choir as well as learn a variety of instruments. Activities and lessons included music technology, xylophone, handbells, piano, movement, recorder, beginning strings and guitar. This is a great summer activity to get children excited about music and the arts! Keep an eye on our Summers page next spring in order to sign up for camp early. Spots tend to fill quickly.











Campers enjoy a little outdoor activity and fun each day.



Rising Senior Program Provides Education and Enrichment

Summer for a high school student usually means beach time, taking family road trips, reading by the pool, etc., but several rising high school seniors chose to spend part of their summer earning college credit through the Rising Seniors Program.


The program is offered during the month of June and is designed for outstanding students who have completed their junior year of high school. Will Brantley, senior enrollment counselor, works closely with the program. He says, “The Rising High School Senior program is a great way for a student to experience what university life is really like.  It’s a fantastic experience of learning, growing in their faith and building community with other students.  Every year we have students that come to the Rising Senior Program and then when they come to Union as freshman, they choose to be roommates with the friends they made during this summer.  This is a program that helps students jump-start their university career and where they will make friends and memories that last a lifetime.”


This intensive summer program allows students the opportunity to earn up to seven semester hours of college credit, giving them an early start on their college career. The students take core curriculum classes such as English composition and college algebra during the program, and many also have the experience of living on campus. Gabby Zuckschwerdt, who just completed the program last Friday, says, “Wow! That pretty much sums up my experience so far here at Union! I can’t wait to hopefully attend here next fall!” Another participant in this year’s program, Samantha Barker, says, “During my time at Union, I have experienced nothing but wonderful things. I have attained some extremely valuable information and skills. The classes prepare you for the real college experience, and the residence life experience is truly remarkable. The decision to apply for the rising senior program will always be one of the most joy-filled and rewarding decisions I have ever made!”


During the month, the rising seniors are invited to a social event each Thursday to give them a chance to learn about different aspects of Union life. The final event is an ice cream social, where the students can celebrate the completion of their classes. To learn more about this summer program, visit



Students, Employees Gather to Cheer for USA in World Cup

The Office of Student Leadership and Engagement invited faculty, staff and students to gather in the Bowld Student Commons to watch the USA vs. Germany World Cup game today. While the USA didn’t have to win to advance to the next stage, everyone was rooting for a win. We had students decked out in red, white and blue and waving flags, and many employees spent their lunch break watching the excitement. We won’t spoil the game, in case you have it DVR-ed at home!

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Summer Sports Camps at Union University

Each summer at Union University, there are various summer camps taught by our coaches and athletic teams. Options include baseball, basketball, cheer, soccer, softball and volleyball. Several of the camps took place during the month of June, but there are still opportunities to sign up for the full week boarding basketball camp, several different soccer camps, softball boarding camp and volleyball camp. For more information about each of these, visit

These camps are an excellent way to teach children the fundamentals of these sports, but it also serves as a way to teach them the importance of teamwork. Other non-athletic camps and classes can be found here:

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Union University Welcomes Many for New Student Registration Day

Registration Day. You could describe it as hectic, jam-packed, overwhelming or any other term that basically means “busy,” but one word sums it up best: exciting. For some new students, it is the day when their journey to college starts to feel real. When we posted a photograph on Facebook of the morning orientation crowd, several alumni commented how well they remember their own registration day. It’s hard to forget the first time you registered for college classes, opened the door to your first college bedroom and met the roommates that may become your very best friends. These are moments that students never forget, and so many new students got to experience them Monday.



The day began with new students and their parents gathering in the gym for an introduction and instructions for the day. Everyone was treated to a light breakfast before moving on to other areas of campus.

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After leaving the gym, new students registered for classes with their advisors, learned about student organizations and received their residence assignments. During this time, parents of new students heard from leaders in several areas, such as University Ministries and the Vocatio Center for Life Calling and Career.

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Lunch was held in the chapel, where new students and their parents heard from Dr. Dub Oliver. This was his first registration day as president of Union University, and he spent much of his time greeting and welcoming guests. It was a great day for all involved, and the Union University family is very excited to see our new students back on campus in the fall!

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Barefoots Joe Summer Playlist on Spotify

Our on-campus coffee shop is known for serving excellent coffee, providing an inviting environment and constantly improving the experience of its customers. Another thing many people note about Barefoots Joe is the exceptional background music played each day, which adds to the aforementioned environment. Thanks to the online service Spotify, you can have your own Barefoots Joe playlist! They’ve just released their summer 2014 selections, and you can listen for free here:


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Dr. Dub’s First Day as President of Union University

On June 2, 2014, the 16th president of Union University celebrated his first official day.

The life of a university president is a very busy one, so we wanted to give Dr. Oliver and Mrs. Susie a chance to properly meet everyone before getting into the swing of things. The morning began with a wonderful breakfast reception in Barefoots Joe, and guests enjoyed delicious coffee, scones, fruit and chicken biscuits. After praying over the Olivers, employees were able to mingle with the president and first lady for most of the morning.

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During the evening, Union University and Jackson community leaders gathered at Providence House in Jackson for another welcoming reception called Bowties & Bulldogs. Dr. Dub and Susie, along with their daughter Callie, had the opportunity to meet key leaders of the city, and Mayor Gist officially welcomed them with a joint proclamation from the city and county mayors. The proclamation declared June 2, 2014, as “Samuel W. Oliver Day.” It was a joyful celebration of the Olivers and a perfect way to welcome them to their new home. We are looking forward to seeing God’s plan for the Olivers here!

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Special thanks to the Office of University Relations for making Bowties and Bulldogs such a successful event, and to Casey Jones Village for providing such a perfect setting.