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Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver was inaugurated today as the 16th president of Union University.
“This ceremony is a representation of who we are as a Union family,” Oliver said. “…This is Union at its best.”
Norman Hill, chairman of Union’s board of trustees, presided over the ceremony and welcomed Oliver’s family, friends, faculty, alumni and students.
Several people offered greetings to Oliver, including Jenaye White, senior public relations major and president of the Student Government Association, Harry L. Poe, Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture, Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist, Randy Davis, executive director and treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and Frank Page, president of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Union University singers presented an anthem titled “Establish,” commissioned especially for the event and written by Dan Musselman, assistant professor of music.
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was the keynote speaker and gave an inaugural charge.
“Union University ought to continue to be the sort of place that isn’t just a center of ideas, but a place where the Gospel is so real and the Gospel is so embodied that the school itself is a worshiping community where the joyfulness of the spirit is present here,” Moore said.
He said there is a temptation for institutions of Christian higher education to drift from their Christian foundation, and Union has resisted that temptation.
“The world does not need another nominal school in the Christian tradition,” Moore said. “The world needs Union University, a Christian university believing a Christian gospel.”
Bryan Carrier, vice president for student life and dean of students, presented blessings to Oliver. He said there is no one he trusts more than Oliver to lead the university.
“Union’s strong commitment to provide Christ-centered education makes the inauguration ceremony even more distinctive,” Carrier said. “Not only is Dr. Dub the Chief Executive Officer, he is also the Pastor, the Shepherd and the Steward of the people and place of Union University.”
C. Ben Mitchell, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the inauguration of a president is a benchmark in the life of a university.
“It is a moment to look back with thanksgiving and a moment to look forward with anticipation,” Mitchell said. “Dub Oliver is God’s leader to take us deep into the 21st century. Thanks be to God.”
Hyran E. Barefoot, Union’s 14th president, assisted Hill in the presidential investiture and gave Oliver a citation charging him with the duties of the president.
Oliver said it was a great honor to accept the presidency, and his task is to affirm the mission of Union and carry forward the vision of its founders.
“Jesus Christ is our hope and our foundation,” Oliver said. “He is the foundation upon which Union is built, and he must be the center of everything we do.”
Oliver praised the former leaders of the university for their forward-thinking leadership and emphasized the importance of their unified vision in bringing Union to where it is today.
“Now it’s our turn,” Oliver said. “Let us not settle for small plans that we can accomplish ourselves, and let us not rest on the excellence that has already been achieved. Instead, let’s envision a university that can only be a reality with God’s help and with our sustained best efforts.”