By Anna Lewis, Staff Writer
Despite the economic downturn, Union University continues to excel in its enrollment, community goals, new projects and athletics, said David S. Dockery, university president.
Dockery addressed senators and students from various organizations at the 16th annual “Ask the Doc” Senate meeting, Oct. 5, acknowledging hope for a bright future, while recognizing the institution’s need to act responsibly.
Focusing on areas from budgets to plans for the new library, Dockery presented a positive outlook for the 2011–12 school year. Following his address, students took advantage of the time provided to ask questions regarding their specific interests.
“It is always an honor to hear from Dr. Dockery in Senate each semester,” said Karl Magnuson, Student Government Association President. “As representatives of our student body, it was great to hear updates on issues we may not hear about on a daily basis, especially big upcoming projects like the new library.”
Dockery recognized the Senate meeting as “something I look forward to each year” and began by thanking the senators for their leadership across campus and for all they do in advancing the university.
Speaking on the many recognitions Union has received and its continual growth in recent years, Dockery announced this year is Union’s 14th straight year for enrollment increases with a total of 4,205 students.
“For us to have held our own is a good thing, and we’re very encouraged by that,” Dockery said.
Previously mentioned in Convocation at the beginning of the semester, Dockery referenced his goal for Union to be a confessional community.
“We want to build a community that’s grounded in God,” Dockery said. “There are 5 billion people in the world who go to bed each night without a relationship with Jesus Christ.” He encouraged students to
let this fact shape their lives as they make choices for their futures.
“Dr. Dockery gave great insight into how our future direction is definitely Christ-centered,” said Sarah Love, sophomore senator for Alpha Psi Omega. “His presentation reminded me that even though our government changes and circumstances change, God is and always will be faithful.”
Dockery addressed the budget for this year, stating that although Union has gained more donors, the amount per gift has dropped. He also announced that even with Union’s increase in student population, it has decreased in the amount of credit hours for which students are enrolled.
“We will manage our way through this very carefully,” Dockery said. “There will be no changes that you feel directly, but we will have to watch our budget for the next 21 months.”
In light of the struggling economy, Dockery said he was pleased with the $500,000 raised from the Scholarship Banquet.
“The Scholarship Banquet was a wonderful highlight,” said Dockery, remarking on special guest Tony Blair, former British prime minister. “He talks about Israel, Iran and Syria like we talk about Jackson, Dyersburg and Humboldt.”
Dockery stated that Blair has been to the Middle East 71 times since his retirement and has a true heart for the people there.
Commenting on his excitement for the new library and its opportunity to impact every student, Dockery addressed the plans for the new structure.
“It’s a hallelujah moment for the institution,” Dockery said. “It’s going to be a facility that gives us more than twice the space, in addition to its beauty. We are so thankful and incredibly grateful.”
The excitement in the students rose particularly high at Dockery’s mention of a glass elevator in the new library.
The room immediately erupted in enthusiastic chatter as Dockery described the elevator that will extend to all three floors.
Dockery also addressed Union’s move to the NCAA in athletics. He said he hoped Union’s sports teams will be able to keep the rivalries they have formed in the TranSouth Conference over the past years.
He said he wants to keep as many athletic rivalries as possible and “certainly wants to keep the rivalry between Freed-Hardeman.”
Dockery closed his speech by wishing the students a productive year.
“Thank you for the privilege to be with you,” he said. “Thank you for your leadership on this campus. God bless you.”