Students Celebrate Arbor Day by Expanding Union Arboretum

Mark Bolyard, university professor of biology, and Michael Schiebout, associate professor of biology, went out this week with about 15 students to plant nine varieties of trees around campus to celebrate Arbor Day.

These additions bring the total trees in the Union University Arboretum to about 60. Students also helped place signs beside existing trees on campus, which will help educate visitors on what is planted here. Bolyard said he looks forward to continuing this tradition for Campus and Community Day each fall and Arbor Day each spring.


The trees planted this week:

  1. Two Monkey Puzzle trees. These are endangered in their native range, and there are few of them planted in the state of Tennessee. They are unusual looking evergreen trees native to Chile (pictured above).
  2. Two small Catalpa trees, with plans to add a third one, which should become medium sized flowering trees.
  3. Shumard oak, which should have nice fall color.
  4. Burr oak
  5. Warei oak
  6. Black poplar
  7. Black Alder
  8. Kentucky coffee tree
  9. Basswood, which replaces a tree near the BAC that was struggling.


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

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.

Meet Our Students – Part 2

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


Reeves Garrett

Reeves Garrett – Biblical Studies major from Brownsville, Tennessee

“I like that Union’s community as a whole is pretty organic. Students build relationships because we’re a small campus – small enough that you can know a lot of people but big enough that you can always meet someone new.”

Learn more about Reeves here.



Emily Easter

Emily Easter – conservation biology major from Hendersonville, Tennessee

“I left Union [the day that I visited], and I remember thinking, ‘How am I ever going to decide where I want to go to school if every college campus feels like this?’ And none of the other ones ever did.”

Read more of Emily’s story here.




Joshua Stucky

Joshua Stucky – mathematics and computer science major from Maryville, Tennessee

“Having the skills that you learn in upper level mathematics allows me to better engage in theological discussions and philosophical discussions about God’s nature.”

Read more about Joshua here.

Hundley Center Moves to More Inviting Location


Renee Jones, director of the Hundley Center for Academic Enrichment, said many students have been disconnected and had a negative perception of the Hundley Center, and the center’s new location should help remedy that.

The Hundley Center moved from the upper level of the old library to a downstairs location on the main hallway near Union Station in the Penick Academic Complex earlier this year.

“The Hundley Center is not just a place that you go when you are stressed out academically,” she said. “Smart people start here.”

Jones said she would encourage all freshman students to visit the Hundley Center as soon as they start college. She said she wants to see the center become part of the norm.


“We are here to lay a foundation that is strong and fertile and prepare students to flourish,” Jones said.

The Hundley Center has more than 20 faculty-recommended peer tutors in more than 30 subjects. Jones said most students are familiar with the center’s peer tutoring program, but they don’t realize that it offers much more.

The Hundley Center offers a grad school prep series, test preparation for tests such as the GRE, LSAT and MCAT, and academic coaches.

“We will have students map out their entire academic plan so they know where they’re going and how to get there,” Jones said.

She said the main purpose of the Hundley Center is to support the efforts of faculty and bridge the gap between the classroom and understanding the material.


Jones said the new space will allow more students access to the Hundley Center’s resources. The space is split into two sides: quiet study areas and group study areas. She said any student is welcome to study there, and she will continue to make the center more accessible and accommodating.

“We want to equip every student to succeed at the university level,” Jones said. “God gives us all gifts, and we want to help students unveil them and cultivate them.”

Story by Nathan Handley, Photos by Kristi Woody


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.

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



First snow for The Logos library




Photos submitted by Kayla McKinney



Photos submitted by Kayla McKinney



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.”


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.”


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.



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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.


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


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.



Photo submitted by: Jordan Chism


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

Thirteenth Annual Campus & Community Day

Today marks Union University’s thirteenth annual campus-wide service day. This is a time when faculty, staff, and students join together to give thanks to God for His protection over our campus during the 2002, 2003, and 2008 tornados. Most projects this year took place off campus, but a few groups of faculty and staff members worked around campus.

Members of Chi Omega chat with residents of Recency Retirement Village during a game of bingo.

The ladies of Chi Omega visited Regency Retirement Village to play bingo and visit with the residents.

“Volunteering, helping the residents is really fun, and they appreciate it so much…It’s really cool to get to come back and see people that you’ve seen before and get to talk to them and just to build relationships with the residents.” – Abigail Hamblen, sophomore nursing major

Abby Cox, a member of Chi Omega, gets to know residents of Recency Retirement Village during a game of bingo. Members of Chi Omega chat with residents of Recency Retirement Village during a game of bingo. Member of the cheer squad work on preparing art therapy materials at The Star Center

Members of the cheer squad volunteered at The Star Center by helping prepare art and music therapy materials and washing windows.

“Doing this shows people that great stuff is going on here is Jackson, and we’re here just to help in any way possible…Having these few friends with me to just kind of fellowship and get to know them more is really fun.” – Marcellous Jiles, junior education major

“I think that it’s so great and important because it’s tying Union back into the community…Not only are we helping the community and helping out the Star Center a little bit, but it’s also great to get to have that time to volunteer with friends.” – Sydney Fly, junior education major

Members of the cheer squad wash windows at The Star Center. Members of the cheer squad wash windows at The Star Center. Members of the cheer squad make labels for the music room shelves at The Star Center

A team of students led by the golf team refreshes a US map on the sidewalk outside of Alexander Elementary.

A group of students led by the golf team refreshed a US map on the sidewalk outside of Alexander Elementary.

“It’s just a great way to get in touch with the community and make sure that we’re involved just as much as they are with us.” – Trey Whitnell, senior accounting major

“For the community to come help Union the year we had the tornado, to come back out and help the community and us as a golf team to get together and work for others is pretty amazing. Working with my team and the few others that joined in with us is pretty fun too. We don’t always get to get together like this a lot.” – Joy Cooper, junior business management major

A team of students led by the golf team refreshes a US map on the sidewalk outside of Alexander Elementary.

A team of students led by the golf team refreshes a US map on the sidewalk outside of Alexander Elementary.

Gaye Christy works with fellow staff members to plant flowers at the West entrance of campus.

Faculty and staff members worked on campus planting flowers, weeding and trimming trees.

“What we are doing today is one of the basics for us. It’s part of who we are as a university — serving, giving, showing compassion.” – Dub Oliver, president of the university

Karen works with fellow staff members to plant flowers at the West entrance of campus. Dub Oliver helps trim trees along the Great Lawn.

Members of the executive council pose together after trimming trees along the Great Lawn

Story by Nathan Handley, Photos by Kristi Woody