Snow Days – January 2018

Union University has experienced an unusually snowy and cold January so far. The days off have given students and alumni in the area plenty of opportunities to get out and play in the snow. Here are a few of our favorite photos taken by our staff photographer, Kristi Woody, as well as photos submitted by students and alumni.


Below are images submitted by students and alumni in the area.

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Top Ten Photos of 2017

Throughout the year, staff photographer Kristi Woody and four student photographers took more than 40,000 photos documenting life at Union University. Here are 10 photos from 2017 that give an overview of the year at Union. We are looking forward to even more great moments in 2018!

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For Variety Show, members of Chi Omega performed a Mario-themed number complete with Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. Their performance won them first place in the large group category. Photo by Gretchen Foels.


Dr. Dub Oliver, president of the university, walks out of The Logos with Buster the Bulldog. Photo by Kristi Woody.


Members of the Bulldog soccer team celebrate after scoring a goal against Auburn University Montgomery. Photo by Hannah Heckart.

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The New Respects, who Rolling Stone described as “funky, exuberant blues-rock,” performed in Barefoots Joe in the fall. Photo by Gretchen Foels.


On Aug. 21, Jackson experienced 96 percent totality during a solar eclipse. The event coincided with Welcome Week, so new students gathered on the Great Lawn to observe the eclipse. The physics department gave a short presentation and had viewing instruments out for use. Photo by Kristi Woody.


The Union University players performed in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead under the direction of David Burke, professor of theatre, in the W.D. Powell Theatre. Photo by Kristi Woody.


Each building in the residence life complexes forms a team of students that competes for points throughout the year. These points are tallied up at the end of the spring semester, and the Union Cup is awarded to the team with the most points. The final event in the competition is Field Day, where students compete in a balloon toss. Photo by Kristi Woody.


Fireworks go off at the conclusion of Union Night during Family Weekend. Photo by Kristi Woody.


Undergraduate Admissions passed out free stadium horns during a community appreciation event at a soccer game. This event coincided with Bulldog Days so several prospective students had the opportunity to enjoy a Bulldog sporting event during their stay. Photo by Kristi Woody.


The Student Government Association hosted a Christmas tree lighting outside of The Logos with the hope that it will become a new Union tradition. Students sang a few Christmas songs and enjoyed some hot chocolate before the tree was lit. Photo by Kristi Woody.

Biology professors host students for Be Our Guest event

Be Our Guest is an annual event where Union University faculty and staff host a group of students in their homes for an evening meal together.

Due to the popularity of Be Our Guest, we are now offering the program twice each academic year. 

Be Our Guest ranks as one of the most popular events SAC organizes each year. Students have shared that they love the chance to spend time with faculty and staff outside of the classroom and learn that their lives are more than academic pursuits. SAC truly hopes to encourage faculty/staff and student interaction, which we know contributes to student growth and retention.  As Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast sings, we trust the meals prepared are delicious, but we truly hope that the fellowship is enjoyable.

The following photos are from the home of Beth and Andy Madison, who hosted seven students at their home last Tuesday. Andy Madison is a professor of biology and Beth Madison is assistant professor of science in adult and professional studies.

Photos by Kristi Woody & Riley Boggs

Building names in Heritage honor former Baptist leaders

As freshmen start their first year at Union University, most live in the freshman housing of the Heritage Residence Complex. Each of the buildings in this complex is named after a prominent figure in Union’s history. Many of these men served on the university’s Board of Trustees, and most held prominent positions in other areas of Southern Baptist life. Their names on the buildings of the Heritage Residence Complex serve as reminders of the impact they had on Union and on Baptist history.


Craig – Robert Craig was president of Union University from 1967-1986. He was Union’s longest serving president and led the university in its move from downtown Jackson to its current location. He also served as president of Southwest Baptist University and East Texas Baptist University.

Dehoney –Wayne Dehoney was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson during the 1950s and 1960s, during which time he served on the Board of Trustees at Union. He also served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1965-1966.

Dodd –M. E. Dodd graduated from Union and became the pastor of First Baptist Church of Shreveport, Louisiana.  He served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1934-1935 and led in the development of the Cooperative Program, the major funding initiative for Southern Baptist missions and ministries.

Grey – J. D. Grey was a graduate of Union who served for many years as pastor of First Baptist Church of New Orleans, Louisiana. He served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1952-1953.

Jarman – The Jarman family was a generous benefactor of Union. They founded Genesco, a large shoe manufacturing company in Nashville, and their financial contributions helped Union relocate the campus and build the Penick Academic Complex in 1975.

Lee – R.G. Lee was the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis from 1927-1960 and was president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1949-1951. He served on the Board of Trustees of Union and is widely remembered for his sermons and books.

Paschall – H. Franklin Paschall was a graduate of Union who served as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1956-1983. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Union and as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1967-1968.

Pollard –Ramsey Pollard was pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church from 1960-1972. He served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for Union during the time that the university bought the land for the current campus.  He also served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1960-1961.

Rogers – Adrian Rogers was pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church from 1972-2005 and served on the Board of Trustees at Union.  He was a prominent leader in the Southern Baptist Convention’s conservative resurgence and served twice as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, from 1979-1980 and from 1987-1988.

Sullivan – James L. Sullivan was a pastor and denominational leader who served on the Board of Trustees for Union. From 1953-1975, he served as president of the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources).

Wright –Frances E. Wright was a professor of education and academic dean at Union during the 1950s and 1960s and served as the university’s president from 1963-1967. He also served as the first president of Jackson State Community College.

*Former Union Vice President Bob Agee provided much of the background information for this story.


Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody

Top Ten Photos of 2016

Throughout the year, staff photographer Kristi Woody and four student photographers took more than 40,000 photos documenting life at Union University. Here are 10 photos from 2016 that give an overview of the year at Union. We are looking forward to even more great moments in 2017!

Nadaskay demonstrates drawing techniques outdoors.

Chris Nadaskay, university professor of art, coaches Madison Borden, a sophomore pre-professional art therapy major, during an outdoor drawing session. Nadasky often takes his drawing classes outdoors to practice basic drawing techniques. He uses the trees on campus to teach students how to see negative space between the branches. Photo by Kristi Woody.


Freshman nursing major RoNesha Davis performs during an open mic night at Barefoots Joe. The coffee house hosts concerts each semester featuring recording artists from across the country, but the open mic nights give students an opportunity to share their talents with their peers. Photo by Gretchen Foels.


Charlie Wilson leaps over Tray Boyd for his final dunk in a dunk contest during Bulldog Madness. Bulldog Madness kicks off basketball season for the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs. Each team has a scrimmage, and the athletics department hosts giveaways, throws out t-shirts and holds a dunking contest. Photo by Kristi Woody.


The live Buster the Bulldog mascot has been a huge hit on campus! He was welcomed into the Union family in 2016 and was featured in his Santa hat on the annual Christmas card. Photo by Kristi Woody.

Election night watch party.

Sean Evans, professor of political science, and Hunter Baker, associate professor of political science, keep up with election results as they are announced at a presidential election watch party in the Bowld Student Commons. The Department of Political Science hosts a party  during each major election, where students and professors gather to watch the results together. Photo by Kristi Woody.

Cast of theater production takes a bow.

The Union University players bow after a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The large cast performed the show six times under the direction of John Klonowski, assistant professor of theatre, in the W.D. Powell Theatre. Photo by Kristi Woody.


Vernon Stafford, senior chemistry major, works on a lab assignment. Photo by Kristi Woody.


A supermoon rises behind Miller Tower on the Union University campus in November. Several community members came to campus to watch and photograph the event. Photo by Kristi Woody.


Ulylanders Kent, BSOL graduate, waves to family and friends after receiving his diploma at fall commencement. Kent was one of 302 students who received their degrees at the Dec. 17 ceremony. There is always an abundance of smiles and wonderful moments as students are celebrated for their achievements. Photo by Kristi Woody.


Buster the Bulldog revealed his new look at Family Weekend 2016. Buster, along with the cheer team, enjoyed greeting Union friends and family during Union Night. Photo by Elizabeth Wilson.

Why I Don’t Regret Choosing My Private College Education

Post by Kallan Parker, senior public relations major. 

kallanparkerMy senior year of high school consisted of a persistent mental battle between attending a public college very close to home or a private college a little further away. I wrestled between the ideas of graduating from the public college debt free or graduating from the school I loved with an evident chunk of debt. The public college’s “debt free aspect” was the only pro, in my mind, to attending. That environment was not what I wanted and not the place I needed to be in order to grow and network on my own. Needless to say, I chose the private college: Union University.


Setting aside the fact that Union’s campus is beautiful and relatively new, their public relations program is accredited, academics are taken seriously, the faculty is caring, the students are friendly and the environment is encouraging and Christ-like. After day one at Union, I knew without a doubt that I made the right decision. Sure, I could have been set to graduate debt free from another school, but would I have been happy?… Not at all.

The truth is that college is four years of your life, which is much too long of a time to spend unhappy and much too short of a time not to take full advantage of each second. My college experience thus far is something that I would not trade for the world. I love my school. The people I have met, the professors I have had and the classes I have taken have all taught me so much. I have been allowed so many great networking opportunities that I would have never received if it were not for my decision to attend school at Union.

The truth is that college debt is temporary. College education is a worthy investment. I am currently enrolled in 1 of 37 PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) accredited undergraduate programs in the world. I love every faculty member in the Communications department and have gained wisdom from them that I feel certain I could not have learned anywhere else. I may leave with thousands of dollars in debt, but I will be leaving with the skill sets that I need in order to find a job to pay it all off. To be honest, I am happy with the idea of living in a cruddy apartment for a couple years after graduation and eating ramen noodles so that I can get my debt out of the way, if that is what it takes. I will leave Union University knowing that it was worth it to me and that I took full advantage of all my time. College is something you only get to do once, so you might as well choose the school you love.

The truth is that there is no price tag for a valuable experience. Even setting all of the educational classroom aspects aside, Union has its evident advantages. Nothing feels better than walking around campus with the knowledge that so many people around you are devout, God-fearing Christians. There are no words that express the level of gratitude for professors who not only lead by example in their careers but also in their walks with Christ. Being able to join campus organizations and Greek life without entering a stereotypical “ trashy, party scene” is great. Campus organizations are filled with students who share a common love for Christ. Because of that common bond, there is a sense of community on campus that I know I could not have found at the other school I was considering.

Not a day goes by that I regret my decision to attend a private university. I would not hesitate to pick Union again and again.

This post was originally published on The Odyssey in December 2015. 

9th annual Remember Me Commemorative Walk

Post by Theresa Blakley, professor of social work

The Remember Me Commemorative Event for Families of Homicide Loss began nine years ago.  

Dr. Mehr and I conduct a type of therapeutic support group (Restorative Retelling) for persons who have lost loved ones to homicide in and around West Tennessee. The group is free to the community and is operated out of the Trauma, Faith, and Resilience Initiative of The Center for Just and Caring Communities at Union University.

In one of the first groups we facilitated, members expressed how deeply they needed their community to know that their murdered loved ones were persons who were esteemed, cherished, beloved – that they were in the midst of chasing their dreams, ambitions, and managing their responsibilities when their lives were taken – and that they should not be forgotten.  

It was from this angst, the annual Remember Me Commemorative Event for Families of Homicide Loss was born. The event provides an avenue for families of homicide-loss to know that they are not alone, to have their pain and courage acknowledged by a caring community, and to walk in the name and memory of their lost loved one.

In this ninth year, we continue to hear that Remember Me has become the essential event where families of homicide loss annually gather to remember and honor their loved ones.

Many hold up photographs of lost loved ones as they walk around Union’s bell tower; some wear specially made tee shirts with photographs and messages of love.  Tears mingle with courageous smiles as families link arms in their walk of remembrance, vowing never to forget.  

As for Dr. Mehr and I, both survivors of homicide-loss, it is our way of never forgetting as well.  We have learned and have acted upon the lesson that so many who mourn know well:  Placed in the hands of God, no suffering is ever wasted.


Photos by Kristi Woody

Student Life Photos

Over the past few weeks, our student photographers have been hard at work capturing events across campus. In between those assignments, they’ve also photographed many student life moments. Here are some fun photos from our four student photographers taken during their time on campus and during some Residence Life activities.

Photos by Elizabeth Wilson, Gretchen Foels, Morgan Morfe and Janelle Vest

Union Family Celebrates Barefoot


Union faculty, staff and students honored former Union president Hyran E. Barefoot at a celebration Monday in Barefoots Joe. The celebration marked the 20th anniversary of the naming of the Barefoot Student Union Building in Barefoot’s honor.

Barefoot served as president of Union from 1986 to 1996. Catherine Kwasigroh, vice president for institutional advancement, was a student at Union during that time. She said it was appropriate that the Student Union Building be named for Barefoot because of the love he had for students.

“Dr. Barefoot knew all the students in the senior class,” she said. “That was the type of president that he was. He wanted to know the students and be invested in their lives.”

Joy Moore, director of Barefoots Joe, said Barefoot’s name was also an obvious choice when naming the coffee shop. Barefoots Joe was built in 2008 after a tornado damaged much of Union’s campus.

“We were building something for the future of Union, but we wanted to remember the past and the people who made it possible,” Moore said. “Dr. Barefoot’s name points to that.”

Barefoot said he remembers vividly when the Student Union Building became a reality. He said in the early 1990s, the campus had about 2,400 students when it was designed for only 1,200.

“Some of the structures that we made at that time were not total necessities, but this building simply had to be built if we continued activity,” Barefoot said.

He said as the building was built, he was anxious to have someone give an outstanding gift in order for the building to be named in their honor.

“We suggested $2 million,” Barefoot said. “No takers. We threw out the idea of $1 million. No takers. And we simply moved on until finally I got my name put on it for $40. It’s the best bargain I ever made.”

The building was named in honor of Barefoot upon his retirement in 1996.

Barefoot said he and his wife, Joyce, were thrilled to spend time on Union’s campus Monday and celebrate what God has done through the university.

“We are very grateful for the privilege to be back here and to remember those beginning times,” he said.

Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody




Students Invited into Faculty, Staff Homes for Be Our Guest

Six students gathered around a meal of beef bourguignon, risotto and homemade bread at David and Nancy Thomas’ home last week.


The meal was part of Be Our Guest, where faculty and staff invite students into their homes for an evening of food and fellowship. More than 20 faculty and staff members had students in their homes as part of the event.

“Be Our Guest allows the faculty and staff another way to care for the students,” said Grace Pepper, senior English literature major. “By welcoming us into their homes, preparing delicious food and engaging us in lively conversation, they demonstrate their desire, even outside of the classroom, to cultivate relationships with us.”

Grace, one of the students at the Thomas’ house, said she especially enjoyed the conversation at the dinner table, which ranged from Neil Young to the Memphis botanical gardens to Seinfeld. She has been a guest at the Thomas’ house for the past three years, and she said they are always generous and hospitable.

“My evenings at their home have become some of my favorite in my time at Union,” Grace said. “The company is always most delightful, and the food is an added bonus.”

Beth Adams, junior English and history major, was also a guest at the Thomas’ home.

Beth chose to go to their house after getting to know Dr. Thomas through his class on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

“I love any opportunity to talk with both Dr. and Mrs. Thomas,” she said. “My favorite part of the evening was after dinner, when we all ventured into the living room to browse their bookshelves and share book recommendations.”

Beth said she was glad to see every student included in the conversation. She said Be Our Guest demonstrates that Union’s faculty and staff care genuinely for their students.

“When faculty and staff members take time to connect with students outside of the classroom, we students learn so much more,” she said.

Story by Nathan Handley, Photos by Kristi Woody