By Katherine Flippin
Many have inquired about Union University’s new extension campus in Hendersonville, Tenn., since its dedication Aug. 2. While classes have already begun for the 2012-2013 academic year, people from the Hendersonville area, as well as students from the Jackson campus, have been curious about this new location.
On Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Hendersonville campus hosted an information session to allow exploration of the facility and to invite those interested to learn more about the programs available at the new site.
Union administration has said the purpose of the new campus is to offer adult learners in the Nashville area an opportunity to pursue professional development and advanced degrees.
Members of Union’s administration said, on Union’s Hendersonville website, that they want the community to know that these types of students can get a top-tier education that also cultivates Christian faith.
The Hendersonville campus also serves as a model of Union’s mission to be “future-directed.”
Even in 2004, when the administration launched the “Union 2012” strategic plan, the idea of another extension campus was developing.
They wanted another way to advance Union’s Christ-centered mission though new campus facilities, new programs and enhancing the overall work of undergraduate and graduate students, said Dr. David S. Dockery, university president.
After already seeing steady growth in enrollment for Hendersonville programs, Dockery said he thinks the campus will primarily open up new opportunities for graduate students who want to pursue degrees in nursing and health care, education or theology and missions.
Dockery also hopes the campus will cultivate new relationships with pastors, churches and community leaders in Middle Tennessee.
“We are hopeful that the Hendersonville campus will strengthen the overall work of the university, particularly enhancing the multiple connections with various Union constituencies,” Dockery said.
Programs at the Hendersonville campus are targeted toward graduate programs for now, but the university may explore opening it up to undergraduate students as the status of the university grows in that part of the state.
“The focus at this time, and in the short term, is to solidify the Union name in this region, while making sure that we are providing the right programs and offering them in the most effective way,” Dockery said.
Kayleigh Shackleford, junior psychology major from Hendersonville, said she is excited to see what will happen with this campus.
“Hendersonville has been consistently growing for the past few years with many businesses and schools opening in this area,” she said. “Union serves as easy access for many of the professionals working at these places to get graduate degrees.”
Shackleford said she thinks the location will also serve as a way to promote Union’s name in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“This area is exploding, so to see a Christ-centered, people-focused institution added to it will surely enhance the community,” Shackleford said.
Shackleford, whose father, Michael Shackleford, is an associate professor of educational leadership at the Hendersonville campus, said she hopes Union will eventually expand the campus to serve undergraduates.
“I have seen, through my father, how the professors in this location want to keep that Christ-oriented focus by encouraging their students with positive attitudes and outlooks,” Kayleigh Shackleford said. “I think that could transfer over into an undergraduate program, and this campus could serve to encourage surrounding high school students with a place to go that will be uplifting without being too far away.”
While no plan exists for that now, Dockery said he hopes the programs and location of the Hendersonville campus will grow to enhance the community in any way possible.