JACKSON — Union University trustees during their April 14 meeting on the Union campus approved a $94.7 million budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year and granted tenure and promotions to several professors.
The budget is an increase of about $1.55 million from this year’s budget.
Trustees also approved a new program at the Memphis College or Urban and Theological Studies. The Urban Pastoral Ministry Accelerated Program will allow students to complete a bachelor’s degree in urban theological studies and a Master of Christian Studies degree in five years. The program is designed for current urban pastors who lack undergraduate and graduate theological and ministerial training and young adults in urban environments who desire training for ministry specific to an urban context.
The Kern Foundation is providing significant funding for the initiative.
Trustees approved tenure for 10 professors: Cathy Ammerman, associate professor of nursing; Linda Campbell, associate professor of educational leadershi; Esther Choi, associate professor of biology; Gary Johnson, university professor of physical education; Ted Kluck, associate professor of communication arts; Bethany Murphy, associate professor of pharmacy practice; Savannah Patterson, associate professor of library services; Ashley Pugh, associate professor of pharmacy practice; Todd Stanfield, professor of social work; and Lori Taylor, associate professor of nursing.
Eleven faculty members were promoted. Julie Glosson in the Department of Languages, Karen Miller in the McAfee School of Business and Julie Powell in the Department of Physical Education, Wellness and Sport (PEWS) were promoted to university professor.
Promoted to associate professor were Aaron Beasley and Jay Beavers in the Department of English, Cody Curtis in the Department of Music, Aaron Hardin in the Department of Communication Arts, Meghan Larson in the School of Social Work and Brad Creekmore, Teresa Johnson and Ashley Jones in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
In addition, trustees granted emeritus status to seven professors. Emeritus status may be awarded to Union faculty who are retired from the university, held at least the rank of assistant professor, completed at least 15 years of full-time service, demonstrated excellence in their work and are recommended by the department chair and dean.
Professors who were awarded emeritus status were Aaron Lee Benson, retiring in 2023 as university professor of art; Randall Bush, retiring in 2023 as university professor of philosophy; Stephen Carls, retiring in 2023 as university professor of history; Cynthia Jayne, who retired in 2015 as university professor of languages; Ann Singleton, who retired in 2022 as university professor of education; Linn Stranak, retiring in 2023 as university professor of physical education, wellness and sport, and G. Jan Wilms, retiring in 2023 as university professor of computer science.
Trustees also awarded three professors with research leave for the spring 2024 semester: Jeremy Blaschke, associate professor of biology; Bryan Dawson, professor of mathematics; and Bobby Rogers, professor of English.
“Union University over the years has benefited greatly from the excellence of its faculty members,” Union University president Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said. “Our professors are committed to being outstanding scholars while at the same time investing in the lives of students and modeling for them what it means to live as followers of Christ.
“We’re grateful for the work of our entire faculty, and we’re pleased to be able to honor these professors in particular for their hard work and dedication to the mission of Union University.”
In other matters, trustees approved three new members for the Union University Foundation Board: Sam Nichols, executive pastor of Collierville First Baptist Church; Bill Dement, president of Dement Construction in Jackson; and Ramona Yates, retired owner of Machine Tool and Supply in Jackson.
On Thursday evening before their meeting, trustees honored about 70 representatives of the 2023 graduating class, which is Union’s bicentennial class, at a dinner in the Carl Grant Events Center.
“This whole year has been a wonderful time for us to celebrate Union’s bicentennial and reflect on God’s faithfulness to the university over the past two centuries,” said Robyn Hari, chair of the Union board of trustees. “We are thankful for this year’s graduating class, and look forward to seeing how they will serve the church and society in the years ahead.” B&R