JACKSON — Union University turned 200 years old Feb. 3 with a special chapel service, bicentennial birthday party, a documentary release and more. The celebration began in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel with a chapel service featuring interviews from each living Union president.
David Dockery, president of Union from 1996-2014, began the bicentennial chapel service by wishing Union a happy 200th birthday and celebrating the university’s Christ-centered convictions.
He joined Tim Ellsworth, associate vice president for university communications, through a video interview.
“The university has rallied for almost three decades now around some core values that hold the institution together — excellence-driven, Christ-centered, people-focused and future-directed,” Dockery said.
He urged the Union community to remain true to these core values as they continue to give thanks to God, care for each other and pursue academic excellence.
Then, Hyran Barefoot, Union president from 1987-1996, and Bob Agee, Union alumnus and president emeritus of Oklahoma Baptist University, were interviewed by Ethan Voss, current Union student and SGA president.
They recalled memories from the old Union University campus, located in downtown Jackson, and noted the tremendous growth Union has experienced over the past 50 years.
Barefoot said while the former Union University campus was small and poor, the people were what made Union special. He said Union had a gift of attracting excellent students and faculty who were outstanding in their specific fields.
“Union is on the threshold of its greatest days today,” Agee said. “We’ve got a voice; we’ve got a message, and that makes the future even more exciting.”
Finally, Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, current Union University president, was interviewed by Union senior, Steve Williams. Oliver said Union’s 200th anniversary is a testament to the students and alumni who love and continue to invest in its Christ-centered mission.
“I hope that you will come back when Union turns 250 years old … and you’ll reminisce about the people you met here, the faculty who influenced you here and how good God has been to you,” Oliver said.
The service ended with three generations of Union alumni — Wayne (’81), Jeff (’89) and Brett Perkins (’12) — leading the audience in the worship song, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
In addition to the chapel service, Union University hosted a birthday party for Union students, staff, faculty and alumni with food, games, giveaways and more. During the celebration, A.J. Massey, Madison County mayor, read an official proclamation declaring Feb. 3 to be Union University Day in Jackson and Madison County.
Union University also released a special bicentennial documentary of Union’s rich history, told through the voices of key leaders who know and love the institution. B&R