By Beth Spain
Dr. David S. Dockery, university president, answered questions, updated students on future plans and gave current university statistics in an “Ask the Doc” Senate meeting in early October.
“It’s always informative for me,” Dockery said. “Sometimes I learn what’s going on just by your questions.”
The university is in the midst of its fourth strategic plan that will conclude in 2012. Some students will be invited to offer their input on the new plan, which will begin in 2011.
An official partnership with Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China has risen out of the Consortium for Global Education. At least a dozen students have studied abroad at Yanbian, and Dockery said he hopes to keep the exchange going. Dr. James Kim, president of Yanbian University, has sought and received approval from the North Korean government to duplicate the university.
The top five denominations among Union students this year include: Baptist, Non-denominational, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. Dockery said this spread was an indicator of a post-denominational day in society.
Fifteen years ago, the fall enrollment was 1,975 students, and now it has reached 4,186 students, and the university’s ethnic diversity has grown from 10 to 23 percent. The male-to-female ratio has balanced out from 33 to 67 then, to 41 to 59 now.
Dockery said the administration hopes to accomplish four building projects in the following order: a new library, a new chapel, an athletic-to-convocation center and an arts center. The order in which they will be built is based on donor preference.
For the library, Dockery said the dream is to construct “an academic resource building” on the space between the new Quads and Jennings Hall that could begin by fall 2013.
Dockery said the space beside White Hall has been “reserved in the minds of the board for a chapel and athletic-to-convocation center, but all of that has hardly been discussed.”
A new arts and theater center would likely occupy the “L-shaped” space between Jennings and Providence halls.
Dockery acknowledged an intramural complex was needed, but said the construction of residence halls near Hope needed to be worked out before coming to a solution.
Concerning academia, Dockery said he sensed the faculty was exploring some health care-related programs. Since the engineering program has done well, he said he would not be surprised if there was a feasibility study relating to architecture.
For the sports programs, Dockery said the university is seriously considering realignment in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and he said the schools that Union currently plays are also considering this move.
“We don’t fit very well in the (TranSouth) conference play,” Dockery said. “We’re seen as kind of the Goliath, which is unfair to the athletes and the coaches.”
NCAA is also an option to consider because the organization is now requiring a strong academic profile and community service components for Divisions II and III, but he said there are no guarantees Union will make the switch.