By Courtney Searcy
You can continue your education any time in life — that is the message Union University is sending to potential non-traditional students in the Nashville area.
Union’s Hendersonville campus has been meeting in classrooms of an area church, First Baptist of Hendersonville, since 2008, but they will soon have a place of their own. A 24,000-square-foot facility is expected to be complete in January of next year, according to a November press release.
The permanent addition should come as no surprise since the program has grown from 18 students seeking their master’s degree in Christian studies in 2008 to an enrollment nearing 100 students in various degrees.
Now, three years later, not only are there opportunities to study to become pastors and church leaders, but also to become better teachers or business people through the Master of Education degree and the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership degree.
A glance into the classrooms would not provide the demographics seen in a typical class on the Jackson campus. Twenty-year-olds study alongside middle-aged working adults, and they all come from various occupations. Class schedules are accordingly built around the needs of a working adult.
“Our Christian Studies degree is really unique because if people have a call upon their lives to enter ministry, it provides the theological foundation they need to receive and they can continue to work at their job as they prepare for ministry,” said Charles Lea, executive director of the Hendersonville campus.
Hendersonville is situated less than 20 miles from Nashville, which allows students in the area to commute to school without having to encounter trouble with parking and traffic associated with the nearby city.
These factors give the campus a bright outlook as the first permanent university campus in the quickly growing town. For many, it provides an accessible way to continue their education, which Lea said is the key factor for most people in their decision to advance their learning.
“The interesting thing about education is that there really is no best time to continue your education and enhance your skills. The best time is the present,” Lea said.
While the programs offered by the university continue to grow, Lea said the school has the needs of the community in mind. A nursing program, among other plans for growth, is currently in a planning and feasibility stage.
The campus also aids in bringing visibility to Union as a whole, especially in light of the recent rise in various academic rankings.
“Because of our presence, people are learning more about Union,” Lea said. “People were not aware of the quality of university that Union is, and our presence increases the visibility of Union overall, not just in Hendersonville.”