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.

161007gf_open-mic-edits-7

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.

161021_kmw_bulldogmadness227

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.

161102_kmw_busterclaus052

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.

161109_kmw_vernonviewbook027

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

161114_kmw_supermoon035-copy

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.

161216_kmw_graduationgraddegrees160

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.

161002368

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.

great-lawn1

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.

160926_kmw_remembermewalk007160926_kmw_remembermewalk094160926_kmw_remembermewalk122160926_kmw_remembermewalk132160926_kmw_remembermewalk153160926_kmw_remembermewalk160160926_kmw_remembermewalk172160926_kmw_remembermewalk210160926_kmw_remembermewalk218160926_kmw_remembermewalk228160926_kmw_remembermewalk233160926_kmw_remembermewalk256160926_kmw_remembermewalk277

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

160509_KMW_BarefootCelebration006

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

160509_KMW_BarefootCelebration044160509_KMW_BarefootCelebration058160509_KMW_BarefootCelebration063160509_KMW_BarefootCelebration074160509_KMW_BarefootCelebration088160509_KMW_BarefootCelebration094160509_KMW_BarefootCelebration148

 

 

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.

160310_KMW_BeOurGuest013

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

160310_KMW_BeOurGuest002160310_KMW_BeOurGuest006160310_KMW_BeOurGuest018160310_KMW_BeOurGuest026160310_KMW_BeOurGuest028160310_KMW_BeOurGuest033160310_KMW_BeOurGuest045160310_KMW_BeOurGuest059160310_KMW_BeOurGuest062160310_KMW_BeOurGuest076160310_KMW_BeOurGuest080

First Snow of 2016

Over the weekend, our three campuses were blanketed with a coat of snow. This was the first snow of the year, and some students here for January term took advantage of the opportunity to have snowball fights and build snowmen. Here are some of our favorite photos from Friday and Saturday.

1D4_0474_5_6_7 High

Photo of Hendersonville campus by Don Claussen, Trap the Light Photography

 

160122_KMW_SnowDay-2

First snow for The Logos library

 

160122_KMW_SnowDay-17160122_KMW_SnowDay-31160122_KMW_SnowDay-34160122_KMW_SnowDay-41160122_KMW_SnowDay-43160122_KMW_SnowDay-48160122_KMW_SnowDay-53160122_KMW_SnowDay-56

IMG_9322

Photos submitted by Kayla McKinney

 

IMG_9326

Photos submitted by Kayla McKinney

 

Snow_Panorama1

Photos by Kristi Woody

Students Share Christmas Traditions

The Christmas season is a season of traditions – decorations, music, food and spending time with friends and family. Some traditions are universal, and others are unique. A few Union students shared their favorite Christmas traditions.

Jameson Winter

“Each year my family gets together to celebrate Christmas. The older all of us kids get, the harder it becomes to have everyone in the same place, but we do our best. I suppose we don’t have many traditions, but we always enjoy our time together and we always have the best food. My mother is an exceptional cook and baker. Each year, she makes her apple pie from scratch, and it’s easily one of the greatest tastes I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Needless to say, it doesn’t last very long in our big family.”

Kelly Gwartney

“I love Christmas parties, Christmas food, making deliveries with my mom, giving gifts, playing games and most importantly celebrating the life of Jesus. One of my favorite holiday traditions is looking at Christmas decorations, lights and trees around the town or in Memphis and Nashville. My family and friends will travel to see big decorations in the Opryland or Peabody Hotel because it gets us in the Christmas spirit. I love to walk around and admire all of the time and hard work people put into making their Christmas decorations the best.”

unionuniversity-christmastraditions-1

David Taylor

“My favorite Union Christmas tradition is the freshman council Christmas party, which I have been blessed to take part in twice: once when I served on freshman council and once when I served as freshman council mentor. Both times, Karen Taylor graciously opened her house to us and provided a meal. Freshman year, however, was an interesting experience. We always do a white elephant gift exchange, and the limit is five dollars. Unbeknownst to Karen, you can get a mouse from Petco for less than five dollars. Needless to say, when she realized that there was a mouse in one of the boxes, she went crazy and made us get the mouse out of her house. It was an experience I will never forget.”

unionuniversity-christmastraditions-5

Photos: Christmas at Union

December at Union University is always filled with Christmas festivities for both students and employees. We’ve gathered some photos of events from the first week of December as well as photos of decorations around campus.

The week started off with the annual Storytime with the Olivers event in the McAfee Commons. The tradition of our president reading The Night Before Christmas has long been a favorite.

1511EW250

151201EWChristmasStory1

15121EW_Christmas Story2

On Tuesday night, employees enjoyed their annual Faculty & Staff Christmas Dinner followed by the Union Christmas concert. Prior to dinner, there were activities for the kids and a setup for family portraits.

1512EW3351512EW3491512EW3551512EW374151201_KMW_ChristmasDinnerConcert422151201_KMW_ChristmasDinnerConcert459151201_KMW_ChristmasDinnerConcert533151201_KMW_ChristmasDinnerConcert433151201_KMW_ChristmasDinnerConcert449151201_KMW_ChristmasDinnerConcert444151201_KMW_ChristmasDinnerConcert637151201_KMW_ChristmasDinnerConcert639

The School of Pharmacy held its 3rd annual Trimming of the Tree with Dr. Dub.

SOP_Kristina_1SOP_Kristina_2SOP_Kristina_3SOP_Kristina_4

Throughout the week, various areas on campus were decorated for the season including the Bowld Student Commons and the Brewer Dining Hall. On Thursday, Residence Life hosted Deck the Halls for students to decorate their individual buildings.

151130_KMW_Christmas012151130_KMW_Christmas008151203SP_DecktheHalls10151203SP_DecktheHalls26151203SP_DecktheHalls70151203SP_DecktheHalls47

JordanChism

Photo submitted by: Jordan Chism

Kayla2

Creative Dining Builds Community Through Dining Experiences

A college dining experience is about more than just the food, said Jim Erickson, director of Union dining services.

“I look at what we do here as encompassing so many different things,” he said. “Obviously we want the food here to be good, but we want the experience in here to be good. It’s a place where you build community; it’s a place where you get to know people.”

Fall decoration in the cafeteria

Creative Dining Services took over operation of Union’s dining in June, and Erickson said there were some things they knew they wanted to implement from the start. He said they were focused on what the student experience would be, and they wanted it to be a positive experience for everyone, including employees.

Employees work to get lunch ready for students.

“There are a lot of different areas that we look at on this,” Erickson said. “Food is naturally one of the first ones. What is the quality, the variety, the presentation on food? Are we serving what students are going to want to eat, that they’ll feel like they’re getting a good value for their meal plan?”

He said dining services has increased the perception of value by giving more options. Brewer Dining Hall now has a fully stocked salad bar, a grill, a pizza area and a taqueria, in addition to the regular homestyle station.

The salad bar in the Brewer Dining Hall

Signs show where lines are location in the cafeteria

“We put in the taqueria concept and Emma and Charlie’s pizza because we know that those two items are popular with college students,” Erickson said. “I think that probably those have a pretty wide appeal.”

Erickson said dining services is working with students with allergies to ensure they have something to eat without having to make it themselves.

The dining hall also has an allergen area with things like gluten-free bread and dairy-free milk. Erickson hopes to expand the allergen area soon so that people with allergies can have hot meals, not just a sandwich or salad option.

Allergen aware section of the cafeteria

He said Creative Dining Services is uniquely suited to deal with those kinds of things because it is a small food service company. That gives them the flexibility to adjust to what their clients need. He said he looks at their relationship with Union as a partnership.

“We kind of downplay that we’re Creative Dining and make it into Union dining services and really try to promote the school,” he said.

Student response to the changes in the dining hall has been mostly positive. In a survey sent out in late October, students were asked to rate their experiences in the dining hall and give suggestions. About 85 percent of the students who participated said they were either very happy or happy with their experiences.

Jim Erickson posts responses to comments left on the suggestion board.

The dining hall also recently added a comment and suggestion board where students can give feedback about meals. Erickson said most of the suggestions there have been about simple things like adding lids for coffee cups. He said he plans to answer every question or comment that is posted.

“There are always things that we can do better,” he said. “And we’re going to keep improving to make it the best it can be.”

Erickson has worked with Creative Dining for 22 years, and he said he loves everything about it. He said the dining hall is one of the main places on campus that he sees community being built.

Jim Erickson, Food Service Director and Chef Manager, smiles in the Brewer Dining Hall

“There’s something about sitting down and eating,” he said. “If you’ve got good food, it helps foster the relationship between people. If you’ve got a place where you don’t want to come and eat, it really doesn’t do that.”

Story by Nathan Handley, Photos by Kristi Woody