President David Dockery gave what was most likely his final Student Senate address Oct. 30, reviewing the past year and discussing the transition of administrations and the new library.
Dockery spoke about the transition of administrations, saying that he is moving toward a more ceremonial or honorary chancellorship rather than a position in which he would have some administrative responsibility, stating that he and the administration believe that this change is best for a clean break.
The Student Government Association suspended legislation that night to allow Dockery time to speak and answer questions from students.
“Dr. Dockery’s willingness to give his night to speak to us in Senate spoke volumes about his genuine care for the students here at Union,” said Caleb Valentine, junior biblical studies and languages major and president of SGA.
“I personally consider it one of the highlights of each semester.”
Dockery began Senate by thanking the student body for the way they responded to the tragic loss of Leighton Williams, senior nursing major, earlier this semester.
Williams died hours after a car accident Sept. 21.
Dockery spent a while talking about the various awards and rankings Union has received this year, emphasizing the Kiplinger’s list of the Top 100 private universities, which Union was on this year for the first time at No. 77.
“This is not midsize universities like we are compared to in ‘U.S. News and World Report,’” Dockery said. “It is the 100 Top Private Universities in the country.”
Three schools from Tennessee are on the list: Vanderbilt University, Union and Belmont University.
Union is ranked second in Tennessee, behind Vanderbilt.
“This is quite significant,” Dockery said.
“It measures not only academic quality but also value.”
Dockery also introduced the fifth strategic plan for Union, which will go into effect upon the completion of the new library.
Dockery said the new plan should be finalized by April 2014.
Dockery also took time to update students on the status of the construction of the new library.
“We are very hopeful about this project,” Dockery said.
“We don’t know the exact date, but we will see the library coming out of the ground in February.”
Dockery said the building has been redesigned to fit within the budget approved by the board.
The exterior will remain the same as originally planned, but the inside has been redesigned. Bids should be in by Thanksgiving so construction can begin next semester.
“I think what we have is a much more functional facility,” Dockery said.
Dockery also said that in order to solve the problem of seating all of the guests at December’s commencement service, each graduate will be provided tickets for their guests.
Guests must have a ticket to get in.
“I know that is a downer for some of you, but this is the best solution that we have come up with,” Dockery said.
“It may not be good, but it’s the best of the options.”
The status of the presidential search was also addressed by Dockery, who said no presidential candidate has been presented yet, but the Board of Trustees should present a candidate next spring.
“President Dockery gave us a hopeful look at the state of the university,” Valentine said.
“I appreciated both his acknowledgment of the challenges facing Union and his biblically and historically based faith in God’s faithfulness.”
Students applauded Dockery’s potentially final Senate address enthusiastically.
“If we have an event like this in the spring, I hope it’s the privilege I have to introduce you to the new president of Union University, whoever that might be,” Dockery said.