Administrators, faculty, students, staff and all who make Union University the institution it is share the common value of community and togetherness. Throughout the years, it’s what has made Union great, and this year is no exception. While there are countless accomplishments and advancements that have been made this academic year at Union, there are several in particular that will greatly affect the future of the university. However, each accomplishment, whether large or small, is important and has played a vital role in making our beloved university’s name represent the community.
One such accomplishment is the completion of The Logos library that was dedicated and opened to the public Nov. 6, 2015. The concept of a library has changed significantly now that the Internet has made access to information effortless and fast. The need for libraries hasn’t decreased by any means, but their purpose has slightly shifted. While they still offer information, libraries also offer a space for collaboration, now more than ever before. The Logos is that space at Union.
“There’s been a big effort made to create a space for collaboration among students,” said Hunter Baker, associate professor of political science. “I’m glad that Dr. Oliver decided to go ahead and bring [the library] to completion.”
Bryan Carrier, vice president for student life and dean of students, was on his way across the third floor of The Logos not long ago when he glanced at a couple empty study rooms, each with a floor-to-ceiling dry erase board. In one room, he saw complex physics equations that took up every square inch of space offered on the big wall. In the other room, he saw a simple summer to-do list.
“A lot of life together happens in the library,” Carrier said. “I thought, ‘What a perfect picture of what the library has become.’”
The contrast between the two rooms accurately represents the variety of lifestyles on campus and how The Logos brings people from all different backgrounds together in unity.
Another accomplishment is the Student Government Association’s (SGA) bill for revised open-dorm hours that was approved in April 2016 and will go into effect at the start of the 2016 fall semester. What stands out more than the resolution itself is the way members of student senate created, researched and debated the bill, in addition to the way they presented it and worked with Union’s administration to arrive at the best outcome.
“For a long time, people have been talking about wanting to change [the hours], so I knew it would be a big deal,” said Kaylee Gibson, junior public relations major and president of SGA.
Gibson made the difficult decision to veto the first resolution due to some senators’ not feeling heard and feeling like they were pressured to pass the bill without being given the chance to amend it. As one of her very first actions as president, it was a bold move due to the controversy and potential backlash she would receive because of it. While she supported the bill itself, Gibson knew she had the responsibility to make sure everyone’s voice counted, so she vetoed the first resolution to give the senators another chance to make sure the bill was exactly as they wanted it before they presented it to Union’s administration.
“Students have a voice in senate,” Carrier said. “This wouldn’t happen in most places. I was more interested in the process than the outcome, and both were great.”
The last major highlight of this year is the senior council’s gift of a live mascot. The little bundle of fur and wrinkles has become much more than just the campus pet; he has become the face of Union, a source of school spirit and a unifying force among all students. Students at Union strategize the best way to cross paths with Buster the Bulldog, and students have decorated their Facebook timelines and Instagram feeds with the cute little animal that makes them proud to be bulldogs themselves.
“I found out [about Buster] ahead of time because some of my students were involved, and I have to say I did not have the vision of how beloved that dog would be on campus,” Baker said. “He’s kind of the perfect little mascot.”
Apostle Paul said that without love every accomplishment or achievement is void of all meaning. The kind of love he was talking about is the selfless affection that brings people together and causes them to reach outside of themselves to those around them. Throughout this year, it is evident that the people of Union have accurately modeled this kind of love, and because of that, the accomplishments and achievements made are full of meaning and represent the heart of this university, which is unity. That unity is evident in the classroom, in student organizations, in the advancements made on campus, but more than anything, in relationships.
“We see the students that come to Union as a gift – both from families who are entrusting their children to us and from God,” Carrier said. “When you have that kind of perspective, that you see students as a gift, it’s a stewardship component that far exceeds a grade in a classroom. The responsibility of stewardship doesn’t stop at academics, but includes facilitating students’ relationships with one another and growing in their relationships with Jesus Christ.”