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. 

Meet Our Alumni – Part 2

Union University is known for shaping the next generation of great leaders. Our alums go on to elite graduate schools, meaningful careers and mission and ministry opportunities around the world. There are scores of Union alums doing amazing things, and here are some we would like you to meet.

Part 1


alumni-ChelseaCobb-400

“At a nonprofit, you are the whole communications team. Studying such widespread curriculum really let me transition well to this position.” – Chelsea Cobb Croom (’15) – Communications Coordinator, RIFA, Jackson, Tenn.

Learn more about Chelsea’s work with RIFA here.


alumni-ChadWilson-400

“A Union education completely transformed the paradigm through which I viewed my faith and the world. I was taught how to think Christianly, how to broaden my faith to affect every single endeavor and activity of life.” – Chad Wilson (’01) – President, Foundation Bank, Jackson, Tenn.

Read more about Chad here.


alumni-HannahClardy-400

“It is rare to find a school with such camaraderie. The faculty enjoy what they do. They pushed me to read widely, critically and charitably.” – Hannah Clardy (’12) – Doctoral Student, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Read more of Hannah’s story here.

49-bell Carillon Dedicated at Union Night

Union dedicated the new 49-bell Miller Tower carillon as part of Union Night Oct. 1 during Family Weekend. The bronze bells replaced the speaker system in the tower last summer and chime every quarter hour. They can also be played using a keyboard in the base of the tower. A professional carillonneur played a concert of hymns after the dedication.

Kaylee Gibson, president of Union’s student government association, said Miller Tower serves as a symbol for the campus, and the bells are an important part of that.

“The ringing is a gentle reminder that time will pass, things will change, but God is always good,” she said. “I hope that we can all see these bells as an inspiration to inscribe God’s word on our own hearts and to never be silent when we should be singing his praise.”

Read more about the carillon on our website.

Story by Nathan Handley

161002427161001gf_union-night-108161002442161001gf_union-night-122161002460family-weekend-184

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

Bantu Addresses Culture and the Gospel

160907_kmw_chapelbantu003

Vince Bantu, visiting professor of missiology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, said diversity is necessary for unity. Bantu spoke in Union University Chapel Sept. 7.

“God is a God of Unity, and you can’t have unity without diversity,” Bantu said. “You have to have different things to unite…We are united in Christ, but we’re also different. That should not be ignored or passed over, but it should be celebrated.”

Bantu said modern Americans often talk about moving beyond racial and cultural differences in an effort for equality, but he said equality is not achieved through racial colorblindness.

“God doesn’t want us to get beyond it,” Bantu said. “This is part of how he made us.”

He said the gospel is uniquely positioned to be translated into every culture, and the Bible offers many examples of this in the book of Acts. He said when the context of the dominant culture is added to the gospel it adds an unnecessary barrier to those in other cultures.

In addition to his chapel address, Bantu gave an evening lecture Sept. 6 titled “Culture and Context: Church History, Orthodoxy and #blacklivesmatter.” He said missions is how the gospel interacts with culture and is contextualized, and understanding current social issues is vital for Christians on mission.

“The gospel is universal in absolute truth, but it’s relative in how it hits us,” he said.

Bantu compared the gospel to a stage play. He said each person in a theater is watching the same play, but each person has a different perspective of the play based on where he or she is seated. He said when Christians recognize and embrace different perspectives of the gospel, it gives a more complete picture.

“Cross-cultural experiences are like an intermission,” Bantu said. “We get to hear about other perspectives and what other people have seen.”

Bantu encouraged students who are interested in mission work in other countries to first interact with other cultures in their own cities. He said the gospel embraces each person equally, and this is obvious when it is seen in an unfamiliar culture.

“We’re not bringing God to heathen nations,” Bantu said. “He’s already there at work, revealed in creation. We aren’t civilizing people or teaching them anything. We’re sharing good news.”

Story by Nathan Handley

img_20160906_200833

Dr. Vince Bantu’s evening lecture in the Bowld Student Commons

Meet Our Students – Part 3

Union students work hard and set lofty goals. They enjoy building community, pursuing leadership roles and having fun. Here are just a few of the stellar students we would like you to meet.

Part 1 | Part 2

 


 

Austin Orr

Austin Orr – exercise science/wellness major from Jackson, Tennessee

“Pretty much every aspect of campus life I’m involved with, either in class or on the field, faith is always that overarching theme that ties everything together about Union.”

Learn more about Austin here.

 

 


 

Ryne Roper

Ryne Roper – elementary education major from Harrisburg, Illinois

“The sense of community that Union brings is very different and something I was really longing for. It’s been nothing short of remarkable.”

Read more about Ryne’s Union story here.

 

 


 

Bailey Howell

Bailey Howell – teaching English as a second language major from Jackson, Tennessee

“I look at my time at Union so far, and I think that the tight-knit community with the professors and staff and students here makes it exactly what I want. I’m the person I am today because of a lot of people at Union.”

Read more about Bailey here.

Cell Biology Project Uses Bio-Rad qPCR

160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch003

Students in the department of biology have been working throughout the summer on research projects. Many of the projects, including Benton Hurt’s, are focused on the thyroid and thyroid irregularities.

Benton is a senior cell and molecular biology major, and his project is focused specifically on how cells regulate the thyroid under different types of stress.

“We’re looking to see if there is a marked difference in RNA expression in the macrophages, which are immune cells,” Benton said. “The goal ties into broader research going on in the department to better understand hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.”

William Thierfelder, associate professor of biology, has been working on the project with Benton. He said some of the things they are studying are possible because of new equipment provided by donors.

“This machine, the Bio-Rad qPCR, is a complex piece of machinery,” he said. “But it basically allows us to measure gene expression in these cells.”

Thierfelder said the research may help find ways of treating thyroid irregularities that cause metabolism issues and other symptoms. Benton said even though the project does not sound exciting to most people, he has enjoyed the process.

“It’s nice to be able to work on something like this and later be able to see how it ties into the bigger picture,” he said. “We’re not looking for a major discovery, but every part of the research is important.”

Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody

160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch008160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch011160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch013160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch015160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch020160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch025160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch027160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch033160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch036160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch040160714_KMW_BentonBiologyResearch058