Looking Back: Oliver’s first days

Dr. Dub Oliver, president of the university, signs his first diplomas for summer 2014 graduates. | Submitted Photo by Kristi Woody

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Three months have passed since June 2, 2014 when Union University welcomed its new president, Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, with celebration and events.

From day one,  meeting and visiting with people has remained one of Oliver’s priorities.

That June morning Oliver and his wife, Susie, joined Union faculty and staff in Barefoots Joe coffee house for a time of fellowship and prayer.

That afternoon he met with Jim Campbell, president and chief operating officer of H&M construction, to discuss plans for building Union’s library.

Later that evening, the Jackson community and West Tennessee leaders gathered for the “Bowties and Bulldogs” fellowship at Providence house of Casey Jones village where the Olivers were welcomed to the community.

“We began the day with the campus community and ended the day with the larger community, which is descriptive of how we live,” Dr. Oliver said. “We live in close fellowship with people, and then we are called to go out into the world and to build relationships.”

Oliver has been busy at Union since that first day.

C. Ben Mitchell was appointed as provost and vice president for academic affairs of the university. Brian Carrier was appointed permanent vice president of student life.

Oliver has also visited the Germantown and Hendersonville campuses.

He intentionally met with the presidents of Jackson’s colleges, Lane College and University of Memphis at Lambuth. Searching for solutions to Union’s financial challenges with respect to the fiscal demands of a quality Christian education also maintained priority for Oliver.

When asked what excited him most about being at Union, Oliver said that new registration of incoming freshman midsummer along with kickoff events in August topped the list.

“To me it’s like a flower blooming in super motion,” Oliver said. “That week before classes start, it’s like this little bud and all of a sudden it’s in full bloom.”

How Oliver has used his time at Union speaks truth about his character.

“The thing that struck me most was that he dove in to learn as much as he could about the institution,” Mitchell said. “He knows people, calls them by name. He knew all the players when he got here.”

Mitchell said he has found the new president to be a man of transparency and integrity with a strong work ethic.

“He is all about Union University,” Mitchell said. “Everything that he does every day is meant to build up Union University.”

As Union looks to a new year with a new president, Oliver challenged the university to seek how to become the best of what God wants each to be with respect to Union’s theme verse of the year, Psalm 90:17.

About Hannah King 38 Articles
Hannah King, a senior public relations major and psychology minor, serves as a Cardinal & Cream staff writer. A native of Jonesboro, Ark., she plans to graduate in the spring of 2015. Follow her on Twitter @gnikhannah.