Thursday, February 21, 2008

Entering rebuilding phase

With plans in place for construction of new student housing, Union now moves into the rebuilding phase. All future announcements will now be posted at, so please update your bookmarks and monitor that site and the main Union Web page for the most updated information about Union University.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chapel service marks new beginning for Union community

Responding correctly to challenges and difficulties can result in a fresh and total dependence upon God, Union University President David S. Dockery said Feb. 19.

“Out of the rubble across this campus I am praying that we will see renewal in the lives of dozens, and hundreds, of students, staff, faculty, administrators and trustees,” Dockery said.

Read the full story.

Criswell contributes $50,000 to Union recovery efforts

Fundraising efforts initiated by Criswell College in Dallas have raised more than $50,000 for Union University's tornado recovery.

During a visit to the Jackson, Tenn., campus, Jerry Johnson, president of Criswell College, presented a check and a greeting card signed by Criswell students to Union President David Dockery.

Students and faculty at Criswell took an offering during a Feb. 7 chapel service that raised about $500. The college’s KCBI radio station continued the fundraising campaign Feb. 8 via a live broadcast.

“The gift from our wonderful friends at KCBI/Criswell College in Dallas is a marker of God's providential provision for Union University at this hour of need,” Dockery said. “We thank God for Jerry Johnson and for the generous support provided for Union by our KCBI friends.”

Union graduate Kristen Ulmer Cole spoke about Union during the first day of the live “share-a-thon” broadcast on KCBI.

“To be in the studio and hear people call in to give their money and hear their response was really touching,” Cole said.

The outpouring of financial contributions from a community so far removed from the Union campus in Tennessee surprised both Johnson and Cole.

“I was [surprised] but I should not have been, because God has limitless resources,” Johnson said. “That is what you all believe, that is what we believe, that is what we teach and that is what we pray.”

Criswell College joins a growing list of more than 600 donors who have given about $1.5 million in the past two weeks to Union’s rebuilding efforts from the devastating Feb. 5 tornado. LifeWay Christian Resources donated $350,000, First Bank gave $110,000 and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and Belmont University each provided $100,000.

By Alison Ball (’08)

Audio from Tuesday evening's worship service

Audio from last night's worship service in the chapel is available here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SBC Executive Committee gives $100,000 to Union

The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has joined the list of major contributors to Union University’s disaster relief efforts, with a gift of $100,000.

Executive Committee President Morris Chapman presented Union University President David S. Dockery with the check Feb. 18 as part of the Executive Committee’s two-day meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

A Feb. 5 tornado caused an estimated $40 million in damage to the Union campus, and destroyed about 70 percent of the university’s student housing facilities.

“We are so thankful for the Executive Committee and their generosity to us,” Dockery said. “Our needs are massive, and every gift is a step in helping us rebuild the campus. We’re very grateful for the SBC Executive Committee reaching out to us in this way.”

Chapman, a Union trustee, was on campus Feb. 16 for a meeting of the Union board of trustees.

“As I drove across the campus on that morning, things had already changed dramatically,” Chapman said. “Much of the debris was already being hauled off, and it’s going to be a new day at Union University.

“But during the trustee meeting, Dr. Dockery took all that had happened and all that needed to happen, how it was going to be accomplished and what the results would be, and he put it in a capsule of brief understanding and made it as clear as it could have been,” Chapman said. “The trustees went away not only thanking the Lord for his protection during the storm but also for the leadership of Dr. David Dockery.”

Bill Harrell, chairman of the Executive Committee, said told Dockery that the group “knew what the heart of Southern Baptist people is on a subject like this. We want to give you a gift to help you put the campus back in first-class condition.”

The Executive Committee gift follows a $350,000 donation from LifeWay Christian Resources, $110,000 from First Bank and $100,000 from Belmont University for Union’s recovery efforts.

Updated Care and Comfort Station hours

The Care and Comfort station in the Coburn faculty lounge will be open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Friday, for the next two weeks. At The Jett, a station will be available for students from 7:30-10 p.m. until Feb. 24.

Call (731) 661-5284 for more information.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Students should check FEMA applications

Students are advised to check the status of their FEMA applications. Some of the applications are still flagged for the duplicate address problem. Also, FEMA has discovered that some of the students used their parents' incomes rather than their own incomes and this has created other "flags." FEMA officials are encouraging students to drop by the office on Vann Drive to check on these matters.

Booster Club Dinner still on

The Booster Club Dinner, previously scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21, will proceed as planned. Call (731) 661-5050 for information and reservations.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A letter from Dr. Dockery to students and parents

Dear students and parents,

We are looking forward to the return of our students to campus for move-in day on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and to the start of classes on Wednesday, Feb. 20. After twelve days of giving our full attention to the initial recovery efforts after the Feb. 5 tornado, we are now focused on the new beginning for the spring semester.

On Monday, Feb.18, for the first time since Feb. 5, all faculty and staff will be back on campus. Even now, we are praying for all of our students as they prepare to return for the “new start” opportunities planned for this week. We continue to pray particularly for those who continue to recover from injuries sustained on Feb. 5.

Union University faculty and staff (with the assistance of more than 3,000 volunteers) have labored tirelessly over the past 12 days to help us to be able to start the semester once again. They have been joined by trustees and students alike, who have served side by side in the restoration processes. It is impossible to calculate the hours involved in these labors of love to get us to the place where we are today.

We must recognize that things will be different for all of us, but we are excited for the opportunity to continue the semester. Our priorities will be characterized by an essentialist mindset to help us chart the course ahead of us during the remainder of the spring semester. The care of our students will be among the primary concerns of all faculty and staff as we seek to move forward together. Every decision that we have made in recent days has been made with a desire to recreate opportunities for community for and among our students. Revised meal plans, the new housing at “The Jett,” changes to the student lounge and many other things have been planned with the goal of helping to keep students connected during the weeks to come.

Class schedules have been revised, as previously announced. These changes will create innovative opportunities for faculty and students alike. Some classes will be meeting in different places, due to the damage in Jennings Hall in particular. Obviously, student housing will be quite different from where we were on Feb. 4. All of the apartments in the Hurt and Watters complexes, including the Hurt and Watters commons buildings, have now been demolished. New plans are already underway to rebuild the student housing area and to have portions of it completed before the fall semester (we will be sharing information about this project throughout the spring semester). In the meantime, we are quite excited about the new developments at “The Jett.” Our academic leaders and student life teams deserve our deepest thanksgiving for providing us with these new opportunities.

The valiant efforts of more than 250 faculty, staff and student leaders who have retraced their steps over and over again attempting to retrieve the belongings of students from all of the residence life rooms have been heroic and commendable in every way. Almost every room has been visited more than once, and many of the rooms have been visited by these teams up to three times. I am confident that everything that could have been retrieved from every room has indeed been recovered. I deeply appreciate all of those who have demonstrated sensitivity, care and compassion for our students throughout this process. Indeed, it has been a joy to behold.

We want to invite all students and parents to join us for a dinner (compliments of Aramark) between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the Coburn Dining Room on Tuesday evening. We especially want to encourage all returning students to join faculty and staff in the G. M. Savage Chapel at 7 p.m. for a campuswide worship service.

A welcome back dessert reception will be hosted later that evening at “The Jett” around 8:30 p.m. Classes will begin on Wednesday morning. Thursday evening will be the first home basketball game since the storm as the Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs tip-off against rival Freed-Hardeman. Another special service is scheduled for Friday at 10:00 a.m.

We have made great progress over the past 12 days. We still have much work to do, but with God's help and as we all pull together across the campus, I am confident that there are hopeful days ahead for the Union University family. So many people have already joined us along this journey. Close friends and people that we hardly know have prayed, supported, served, encouraged and given sacrificially to help us during this time of need.

We will need several million dollars over the remainder of this calendar year to enable us with the rebuilding project. Already, we are excited to report that more than 600 donors have given about $1.5 million to this project. For every person who has made a gift and for every person who will participate in this project, we are most grateful. New opportunities have already come our way and we believe more opportunities await us in the very near future.

The privilege that has been given to us to tell the Union story in the midst of the past 240 hours has been a blessing for which we will forever be grateful. I believe that just as God providentially protected the lives of our students in the storm on Feb. 5, He will providentially preserve and provide for this university in days to come.

We are entering a new chapter in so many ways in the life and work of Union University. It is a time for all of us to take hope, to not lose heart, to not grow weary in doing good, and to refocus on the distinctive mission of Union University. Let me encourage you to check the Web site as well as the site regularly. Please know of my heartfelt gratitude for each of you. May God bless the Union University community.

May the Lord be with you and give you peace.

David S. Dockery, President

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Housing: Solutions for preparing for the Tuesday move-in

NOTE: Students should also check their Union student e-mail account for detailed information sent yesterday from Dean Thornbury about the move-in process. Additional information is below.

McAfee students moving out of McAfee or to another McAfee apartment were asked to move out of McAfee on Sunday in order for crews to come in for cleaning to get ready for the new residents.

We know that many students may not be able to return by Sunday or need a place to keep their things during this process. If they need help getting someone to move out their items, or if they need some storage room, please call (731) 661-1225 to have their belongings placed on a trailer and then removed from the trailer next week. Dr. Darin White is the only person with the key which will help ensure a secure process.

If a student wants to come down early and needs housing for a night or two, please call (731) 616-9509 to talk about temporary housing. We have many host homes that are interested in helping, even if only for a night or two.

In order to expand Tuesday move-in times to help students, here are additional move in times that may help create a better flow to the day.

- 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Students moving from McAfee to The Jett
- 10 a.m.-11 a..m. Students moving from one McAfee apartment to another McAfee apartment
- 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Students with last names A-M, who have all belongings at present should move in at McAfee and The Jett
- 12 p.m.-1 p.m. Students with last names N-Z, who have all belongings at present should move in at McAfee and The Jett

We still have rooms at The Jett and McAfee, now that we are certain everyone without transportation who needs on campus housing has a McAfee apartment. If you are interested in these two options, call Jennifer Tharp in the Office of Residence Life at (615) 406-1213. We would really love for you to join us on campus or The Jett.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feb. 15 -- Daily update from the president

On the 10th day after the storm we are turning our attention toward the next phase of the recovery, which will focus on the new beginning of the spring semester. On Monday, Feb. 18, for the first time since Feb. 5, all faculty and staff will be back on campus. Even now, we are praying for our students as they prepare to return and for all of the "new start" opportunities planned for next week.

But before next week, and even before our time together next Monday, I wanted to write to say thank you and to share a bit of encouragement with you. I would run out of space if I attempted to name everyone across campus for their incredible effort and their hours and hours of service in behalf of Union since Feb. 5. But I do want to offer a few highlights, among many others that also deserve to be mentioned.

First, I want to thank everyone who joined us in the emergency efforts on that Tuesday evening, Feb. 5. For those who have opened their homes to our students and who have provided pastoral care for our injured students, I want to say a huge word of gratitude. I especially appreciate the coordinating efforts of Sam and Dottie Myatt, and the work of George Guthrie and Randy Phillips in this regard. I want to thank Gary Carter, David McBride and the skillful and tireless work of the facilities team. I applaud the "around the clock" care provided by the ladies of Union Station. To Kimberly Thornbury, Kathy Southall and the entire Student Life and Residence Life team, we owe you a debt of thanks that we can never properly communicate. The Residence Life directors are the true heroes of this entire event.

The efforts of more than 200 faculty and staff who retraced their steps over and over again attempting to retrieve the belongings of students from all of the residence life rooms have been heroic and commendable in every way. For the leadership of Carla Sanderson, Cindy Jayne and so many others I am most grateful. I deeply appreciate those who staffed the command center around the clock. That group, which has affectionately become known as the Junior Leadership Team, demonstrated sensitivity, care and compassion for our students and their parents in a way that has been a joy to behold.

For others who took the efforts of this group in order to follow up with the phone banks and call centers and who organized the "belongings pick up" in the gymnasium, I offer ongoing thanksgiving. I have been amazed at the careful organization and coordination of all of those involved in these labors of love. The safety and security team deserves recognition for the way in which they served alongside all of the various groups across campus.

For Rich Grimm and others who initially provided oversight for the automobile recovery work and then the Jett Inn transition, I am thankful. All of this work was supplemented by the careful coordination of more than 2,500 volunteers by Jerry Tidwell and Larry Vaughan. I thank God for each and every person who has served, prayed and supported the multi-faceted and multi-layered work of recent days. All of these efforts were supported by the talented and tireless efforts of our technology teams and communication teams. These groups have worked an untold amount of hours in order to allow us to communicate with each other and to communicate beyond this campus. The opportunity to tell the Union story in the midst of the past 240 hours has been a blessing for which we will forever be grateful.

As the Union story has been told across this region, throughout the country and around the world, God has touched the hearts of people who are beginning to respond to our massive needs. Our advancement team has worked hard to help people understand our needs at this time. We pray for ongoing long-term responses. I will share more of this information on Monday, but a bit of news to encourage you. To date, dozens and dozens of people and groups have responded with big gifts and small. We trust God to bless them all, each and every one. Just a few of these which I thought you would want to know include:
LifeWay Christian Resources -- $350,000
First Bank -- $110,000
Belmont University -- $100,000
Criswell College/KCBI -- $53,000
Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Board -- $50,000
TBC Children's Home -- $50,000
Six SBC seminaries -- Nearly $50,000
... and a group of individuals who are all praying about how they can help us in a significant way at this time -- and the list goes on and on. Our needs will total several million dollars, so this is just a start. I believe, however, that just as God providentially protected the lives of our students in the storm on Feb. 5, He will providentially preserve and provide for this university in days to come.

It is a time for us all to take hope, to not lose heart, to not grow weary in doing good, and to refocus on the distinctive mission of Union University. Please know of my heartfelt gratitude for each of you. May God bless the Union University community. Please try to get some rest this weekend as we enter a new phase in our work on Monday, Feb. 18. Finally, let me ask you to pray for our Board of Trustees as they gather on Saturday for a called meeting to help us address the needs, challenges and opportunities that we now face. We are grateful for our trustees, so many of whom have walked closely with us over the past 10 days. May the Lord be with you and give you peace.

-- David S. Dockery, President, Union University

Belmont sends $100,000 check to Union for recovery efforts

Belmont University has given a $100,000 gift to Union University for disaster relief assistance following a Feb. 5 tornado that caused an estimated $40 million in damage to the Union campus.

“We are so thankful for the generosity of Belmont President Robert Fisher and the Belmont board of trustees for helping us in this way during our time of need,” Union University President David S. Dockery said. “We continue to give thanks to God for the outpouring of support from our friends at places like Belmont.”

Fisher sent the check to Dockery Feb. 14, along with a personal letter.

“Please accept the enclosed check as an expression of care and concern from Belmont University students to Union University students during this time of incredible challenge,” Fisher wrote.

“Belmont faculty, staff, students and trustees are continuing to seek opportunities to show their support for Union, and as funds from these efforts are available they will be forwarded,” he continued. “However, we know that there are urgent needs and did not want to delay sending this gift.

“Please know that your students, faculty and staff remain in our prayers.”

Union students will return to class Feb. 20 after a two-week absence. The Feb. 5 tornado resulted in the demolition of two housing complexes at Union, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the student housing units on campus.

Important housing & meal plan information

Residence Life staff are working tirelessly to complete student housing assignments in McAfee and The Jett, providing the best possible match for all students. All housing assignments are posted at All resident students must view their housing and accept or decline their assignment by 3:00 pm Sunday, February 17. If you do not yet have an assignment, you will be provided with additional instructions.

Welcome to The Jett! For students assigned to The Jett or those who have not yet finalized housing, please visit for photos, sample floor plans and general information.

For those who need information about meal plans, please check out Meal Plan FAQs.

Reminder to students to check UU e-mail

Union students, please don't forget to check your UU e-mail account. That may be the only contact information that faculty members have for you, and some of them may be e-mailing you with specific information about their classes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

LifeWay pledges $350,000 to Union for disaster relief

Trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources approved a $350,000 allocation from reserve funds to assist Union University during their Feb. 11-12 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Trustees approved a recommendation from their executive committee to provide $250,000 for immediate budget needs at the Jackson, Tenn., campus which sustained major losses in a Feb. 5 tornado, and $100,000 in LifeWay Christian Stores gift cards to help students replace lost textbooks and supplies.

LifeWay’s administration also authorized the formation of employee relief teams to assist Union in disaster relief efforts as Union President David S. Dockery identifies needs.

In a phone call Monday night to Union University President David S. Dockery broadcast live to all trustees, LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer said, “We want to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ at Union University. We thank God that lives were spared, and we thank God for your incredible leadership. You have stood tall at a time when the pressure would have crushed other leaders.”

Dockery responded, “I am overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity at this critical moment. There has never been a more pressing challenge in Union’s 180-year history. The opportunity to move forward will only take place as Union’s friends become agents of God’s grace in time of need. I thank you, I thank the board, I thank the LifeWay family for an unbelievably kind and generous gift to us at this particular moment. We thank you from the depths of our hearts.”

Rainer, in addressing LifeWay’s trustees, had noted that the Southern Baptist entity is “able to do some things that others cannot do.”

“We heard about the tragedy; we heard of the miracle that lives were spared,” Rainer said. “I believe that LifeWay has been given a unique opportunity for a unique time,” he continued. “We have resources for a unique time. It is time for LifeWay to step up and walk alongside our brothers and sisters at Union.”

Rainer asked trustees to “do something tangible” by approving the $350,000 disbursement to Union.

“Union has a long history with LifeWay,” Rainer said, noting that for years Union has hosted LifeWay-sponsored Centrifuge youth camps. Union also is the only college campus in the nation with a LifeWay Christian Store.

“Throughout the LifeWay family we have alumni, employees with children and friends at Union and employees who have close connections with Union University,” Rainer added. “Many students lost everything. It is my hope and prayer that others will now walk alongside us as we walk alongside Union.”

Following the conversation with Dockery via speakerphone during the trustee meeting, Rainer said, “This is what LifeWay is truly about. Yes, we are a business, but we are first a ministry.”

-- Reported by Rob Phillips, director of communications for LifeWay Christian Resources, and Russ Rankin, manager of editorial services.

Refunds and credit balance checks

In an effort to accommodate our students effectively, the university has chosen to refund credit balances in two phases.

Phase I -- Credit balance checks will be issued on current student account charges and financial aid. In essence, this will be the viewable balance as shown on Web Advisor. Web Advisor information may be accessed from followed by the student log-in information. These checks will be available Monday, Feb. 18, on the Jackson campus at Union Station. Checks for the adult Germantown student population will be available at the Germantown campus on Friday, Feb. 15. Every effort is being made to ensure a timely delivery of these checks to minimize any inconvenience to students.

Phase II -- Credit balance checks will issued after more long-term housing arrangements have been completed for each student. Because much is involved in the make-up of a credit balance, including adjusted housing, meals and appropriate financial aid, a date will be determined and published on UU Recovery. Please continue to monitor this site for updates.

Important information about FEMA claims

In previous postings, we have provided instructions about how students can file a claim with FEMA. Unfortunately, the procedures we have provided have resulted in difficulty for many students, whose claims have automatically been rejected because the FEMA computer system recognized all Union addresses as the same individual.

We believe the problem has now been resolved, and students may try again to file their claim at

IMPORTANT: When filing your claim IT IS IMPERATIVE that in addition to the Union street address, students list as their address their Union University post office box, as well as their specific dorm room number. YOU MUST PROVIDE NOT ONLY YOUR DORM ROOM NUMBER, BUT YOUR SPECIFIC BEDROOM IDENTIFICATION AS WELL (such as Barton 7B or Lovelace 3A).

In filing their claims, students may claim only essentials for living and education -- such as clothing, computers, books, toiletries, etc. Items such as iPods or jewelry cannot be claimed.

Cars may be claimed, up to a maximum of $6,500, as long as the car's title is in the student's name. If the title is in their parents' name, the parents must file a separate claim.

Also, students should only file claims if their losses are more than $60. FEMA WILL NOT WRITE CHECKS FOR LESS THAN $60.

Once a claim has been filed at the FEMA Web site, a student will receive an ID number. Once they get their ID number, they must go to the FEMA office at 375 Vann Drive for an interview.

The interview will result in either a "yes" or a "no" for a follow-up by FEMA. If students receive a "yes," a FEMA inspector will come and examine their damaged possessions. The inspector will then file a claim, and students should get their checks by the end of the spring semester. The deadline for filing a FEMA claim is 60 days after Feb. 5.

Faculty and staff can qualify for a FEMA claim if they can show that the damaged items in their offices were essential for living.

THIS IS A LENGTHY PROCESS. Please do not get frustrated and give up. Expect to try two or three times before getting approval for your claim. You will most likely qualify for some reimbursement, so it is probably worth your time to see this process through.

If you have questions, call FEMA at (800) 621-3362.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Textbook list posted

Many colleges across the country have offered to help Union students replace their textbooks. To assist with such textbook drives, Union has posted a list of textbooks needed in two different formats: a PDF version, and an Excel version. You can also search by keyword at under the academics section.

All books can be sent to Union at:

Emma Waters Summar Library
Union University Box 1803
1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, TN 38305

Updated academic information posted

Updated information about the spring 2008 semester is now available at

Academic FAQs
Spring 2008 Modified Schedule (PDF)

Spring 2008 Course Calendar (PDF)
Spring 2008 Classroom Reassignments (PDF)
Faculty Relocation Plan (PDF)

New stories posted

Bagging and recovery of student possessions goes smoothly
Pro golfer Micheel to donate $500 to Union for each birdie in upcoming tournament

Also, be sure to check out Union Stories for new videos being posted regularly.

Feb. 13 -- Daily update from the president

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – markers of a grace-filled community. These virtues have been so obviously evident to those who have been observing the Union community over the past eight days. I have told several people that the nation, even the world, has observed what I have the privilege of watching everyday. The quality of Union students, staff and faculty is a joy to behold.

As we move into the second week after the tornado we will need to pray for God to manifest these virtues in our lives. Many faithful people across this campus have worked tirelessly to help move the recovery process forward. I want to ask everyone to please be patient with those who are tired. It is a time to be gentle with them.

We must pray that God will give us focus, fortitude and strength for the long journey ahead. In just a few days our students will return. Let us pray that the new beginning of this semester will be an outpouring of love for our students and a time of joyful thanksgiving together for God’s good and providential care for Union University.

Let us pray for parents and students as they prepare to return. Let us pray for one another during these crucial days. It is a time for all to be supportive of our common efforts in the long journey ahead of us. Let us pray for our trustees as they gather this Saturday to make important decisions regarding our future.

Major work will begin today on the demolition of the buildings that received the most extensive damage. The Walker Road entrance will need to be reserved for the large trucks going in and out of campus. The north entrance (Union University Drive entrance) will be the primary way to enter and exit the campus.

Also, JEA is working to restore heat to both the PAC and the BAC buildings, but we are told it may be Saturday before that happens. For any other maintenance needs that become apparent, please e-mail Mary Brown in Facilities. We appreciate your patience in these matters.

We have seen great progress in recent days. We now commit ourselves with renewed dedication to the new challenges and opportunities ahead.

May God be with us all.

-- David S. Dockery, president, Union University

Important comprehensive housing information

Relocating displaced resident students continues to be a top priority as the university moves toward resuming the spring semester. Each student who still needs housing will be contacted by phone this week with a housing assignment. Plans are in place to allow all students to move into their new accommodations on Tuesday, where any belongings retrieved from their previous room will be waiting for them. Following is detailed information regarding housing assignments and refunds. Also check out Housing FAQs.

Students who have found their own alternate off-campus housing will receive a full refund for the spring semester, which they may credit to their account or donate all or a portion to Union’s disaster relief fund. To receive a refund, students must complete this form and bring it to the Office of Residence Life. Students without a balance on their account will receive a refund check before the end of the semester.

For those who still need housing, Union will place students on-campus in the McAfee complex, at The Jett, or with Union faculty and staff host families. Priority for on-campus housing will be given to students who do not have transportation.

Housing at The Jett Inn will be $1250 for the spring semester. For FAQs about The Jett click here.

Students placed with faculty or staff host families will receive a full refund for the spring semester which they may credit to their account or donate all or a portion to Union’s disaster relief fund. To receive a refund, students must complete this form and bring it to the Office of Residence Life. Students without a balance on their account will receive a refund check before the end of the semester.

The university has made every effort to retrieve the belongings of each student living in the Hurt and Watters housing complexes as well as Dodd and Gray in the McAfee complex. Numerous faculty and staff, assisted by structural engineers and emergency personnel, have spent countless hours recovering undamaged student belongings.

The items are all being stored on university property through Saturday at noon, and are ready to be picked up. To find out if they were able to collect some of your belongings, please call 731-661-5510 from 10 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Friday, and Saturday until noon. You will be able to pick up your items during the same hours: 10 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Friday and Saturday until noon.

For the many students who have returned home and may not be able to retrieve their belongings, the university will transport bagged items from the distribution center to students’ assigned housing beginning Saturday afternoon, with distribution complete by Monday afternoon. If you have placed a special request, these will continue to be housed in the Lambda Chi Alpha house. Please continue to check the website for updates, as the special requests may be relocated. Call 731-661-5510 if you have additional questions.

Students who opt to move out of McAfee (and helping to open more on-campus space for those without transportation) and need assistance in packing and moving should call 661-5357. The university hopes that all of those moving out of McAfee can do so by Sunday, February 17, allowing the housekeeping staff to clean on Monday so others may move in on Tuesday, February 19. Union can provide temporary housing for students moving out of McAfee on Sunday, February 17, and into The Jett on Tuesday, February 19. Please call 731-499-5109 to request free, transitional housing in a host home.

We deeply appreciate the kind spirit and patience demonstrated by our students during this difficult time. We know there will be many questions along the way, but know that the university is appreciative of you and continues to place a high priority on your transition. Please take a moment to read through the extensive information provided in the Housing FAQs. If you still have additional questions, please call 731-293-5550 and continue to check for ongoing updates.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Union students to return to class Feb. 20

Union University students displaced by a Feb. 5 tornado that ravaged the campus will return to class Feb. 20, university officials announced today.

President David S. Dockery said that all faculty and staff offices will open Feb. 18, with students returning to their housing Feb. 19 and beginning classes the next day.

“It is absolutely amazing to think that we will be able to start classes within two weeks of this devastating story,” Dockery said. “We are so excited about seeing our students return to class. I can’t say enough about our faculty and staff and the amazing work they have done to enable us to be ready to move forward with the spring semester schedule.”

More than 1,100 residential students left campus last week after the EF-4 tornado destroyed much of Union’s student housing. Two of the housing complexes – Hurt and Watters – were hit the hardest and will be demolished.

To accommodate student housing needs, Union will house 300 students in The Jett, formerly the Old English Inn. Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, which owns the facility, has turned operation over to Union for student housing through December.

About 350 students will remain on campus, in residence life buildings not heavily damaged by the tornado. About 300 students have secured their own off-campus housing, and the remaining 250 students will stay with Union faculty and staff members for the remainder of the semester.

The university will hold a campuswide worship service in the G.M. Savage Chapel at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19, followed by a welcome back party at The Jett at 8:30 p.m. The first major student event after classes start will be the Feb. 21 basketball games at Union against rival Freed-Hardeman University. The women’s game will begin at 6 p.m., with the men’s game to follow at 8 p.m.

Media planning to cover activities on campus next week are requested to obtain credentials from the university. To do so, send a fax on official letterhead to Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations, at (731) 661-5177. Media outlets should include with their requests the number of credentials being requested.

Media arriving on campus should enter via the Walker Road entrance, where they may pick up their credentials at the Union University Welcome House. Media will have access to the Tuesday evening worship service and to three specific classes on Feb. 20, as well as to select locations in student housing as students return.

The Union University Media Relations Office will make every effort to have students available for interviews, and will try to connect regional and local media with students from their particular coverage area. To request an interview with a Union student, please call (731) 661-5216.

Feb. 12 -- Daily update from the president

Today, I want to pause to say a word of thanksgiving, particularly to those throughout our Madison County community. I know you will join me in expressing thanks to them and for them.

One week ago, Union University experienced the greatest challenging hour it has ever faced in its storied 185-year history. The EF-4 tornado that ripped through our campus destroyed buildings, residences and offices, resulting in more than $40 million in damage.

But thanks be to God, it could not destroy the courageous spirit of the Jackson-Madison County community, nor did it take a single life.

On this day, the Union University family is a community overwhelmed with gratefulness. To this end, together we:

-- Thank God for His providential care and sustaining grace for Union University in the eye of the storm. We praise our Creator for preserving and protecting each precious human life.

-- Recognize that this providential care was carried out by His human agents: the hands of God upon this earth.

In addition, we want to pause in the midst of our recovery to express our deep heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals:

-- Our two mayors, Jerry Gist and Jimmy Harris, who have visited this campus every day and have been incredibly supportive in the aftermath of the storm.

-- Chief Rick Staples, Commander Dennis Mays and Sherrif David Woolfork, whose brilliant response to the emergency showed a police force equal to the challenges of even the greatest crisis.

-- Fire Department Chief James Pearson, who carefully oversaw one of the greatest rescue and disaster management efforts in the history of emergency services.

-- All of the incredible individuals, such as Marty Clements, from the emergency management systems, the Tennessee State Guard and other critical care personnel who saw to it that each Union University student stayed safe.

-- West Tennessee Healthcare CEO Richard Parks, who mobilized the resources of the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital to help us respond effectively to the disaster.

-- The ER critical care unit at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, including doctors, nurses and other wonderful hospital personnel who treated injured students and saw to it that the ones in greatest need were attended to at the highest level of care.

-- To our elected and government officials who visited our campus and demonstrated their concern: Governor Bredesen, Senators Alexander and Corker, Representatives Tanner and Blackburn, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff and FEMA Director Paulson.

To the following churches and organizations, our hearts overflow with thankfulness:

-- Pastor Ben Mandrell and Englewood Baptist church for the amazing gift of the Phil and Marilyn Jett Inn (formerly the Old English Inn) to be the residence to which many of our students will return next week.

-- West Jackson Baptist Church for offering their facilities to our Music Department, along with providing space to house items from faculty offices evacuated from Jennings Hall.

-- The many faithful God-honoring churches across this region that have selflessly provided support in these initial days of the recovery effort. You have both walked with us and prayed us through this crisis.

-- Nancy Zambito and the Jackson-Madison County School District.

-- University School of Jackson and Trinity Christian Academy for their gracious offers to provide resources from their campuses to help us keep our programs in Jackson running.

-- Jackson Christian School for allowing Union’s Athletic Department to continue with its basketball schedule.

-- To all of the area colleges for their thoughtful offers of assistance and volunteer teams to help with the cleanup effort, including: Freed-Hardeman, Lane College, UT Martin, Jackson State, Bethel, Lambuth and other institutions across the state.

Further, we wish express our great appreciation to:

-- Our Union University alumni and friends who have encouraged us at every step along the way, and continue to do so with fresh supplies of encouragement and tangible support.

-- To the media who have aided us in communicating the remarkable stories of the Union University family, including WBBJ, area TV and radio stations, and most especially The Jackson Sun.

-- All of the construction and cleanup companies and organizations who have, and are, doing us the service of getting our campus operational again, including: Dement Construction, Ricky and Pam Harrison of Hutcherson Metals, Inc.

-- Verizon Wireless and Motorola who gave us the ability to communicate while the power was out and our network was down.

-- Black and Decker for the use of their facilities for our MBA classes.

-- All of the food vendors who provided meals to our relief workers, students and volunteers. Among the many folks involved were: Chik-Fil-A, Logan’s Roadhouse, Jason’s Deli, The Old Country Store, Regions Bank, First South Bank, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Zaxby’s, Popeye’s, Cracker Barrel, Aramark and many others.

In particular, as the president of this great university, I want very personally to thank our marvelous board of trustees, faculty, staff and remarkable students who have shown a strength of will and courage that displays the heart and mission of Union University. With all of these I am deeply humbled and privileged to work every day. The nation has the opportunity that I am privileged to see each day, which is the amazing quality of people who make up the Union University family.

And, finally, for our ongoing gratefulness to a long list of groups and individuals too lengthy to innumerate in this space, those who encourage us and continue to send help and financial support our way. To all of you, we can never give enough thanks.

For those of us on the campus of Union University, the past week has already felt like an entire year, we know that a long journey still stretches out before us. But we take heart in our great God, about whom Moses sang:

Who is like unto thee, O LORD?
Who is like unto thee—majestic in holiness,
Awesome in glory, working wonders?
Who is like unto Thee?


-- David S. Dockery, president, Union University

FEMA claims -- update

If you have filed a claim with FEMA and included your UU Box # address in the claim, you may receive a FEMA rejection letter. Please do not panic.

Currently the FEMA computer system only recognizes one address (the U.S. postal address, 1050 Union University Drive) as the official postal address for Union University. This is only a temporary glitch with the FEMA computer system, and the issue will be resolved shortly. You should not have to re-submit your application. In the coming days, you will receive a second letter of approval.

Thank you for your patience.

FEMA fact sheet for students

This fact sheet (a PDF document), Students Affected by a Presidentially Declared Disaster, details the eligibility requirements and types of assistance students may receive after a disaster.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Residential students asked to fill out online form ASAP

To provide the most recent information about their housing needs, all residential students are requested to fill out immediately a form located at:

The information obtained from this form is critical to take the next step in making housing assignments.

Care and Comfort Station hours

The Union University Care and Comfort Station, located in the SAE house, is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. daily from now through Feb. 16. Call (731) 437-0316 or (731) 661-5284 to find out more or to register your student organization for group debriefing.

New story posted

Worship services proclaim tornado helps Christians shine brighter for God

Event cancellations

The Baptist Identity Worship Project and Symposium scheduled for Feb. 14-16 and the West Tennessee Pastors Valentine Banquet scheduled for Feb. 12 have been canceled.

McAfee resident clarification (students with working cars)

This message is to ensure that all McAfee residents are aware of both their on- and off-campus options for their spring housing.

As you know, all buildings in McAfee except for Gray and Dodd will be able to be used for student housing later this week (date TBA.) Currently, there are 347 bedrooms available in McAfee. We are working with approximately 300 students from Hurt, Watters, Dodd and Gray who do not have transportation, and we are thinking about the best way to utilize space on campus for those students who do not have cars.

While we will not need every McAfee bedroom for them, a call was placed last night to all the McAfee residents (except for residents of Gray and Dodd) who have transportation to consider if being placed in a Union host home or a move to the Old English Inn (now Jett Inn) might be attractive to them. Details about the secure faculty/staff home and Jett Inn will be available later today on the Web site to allow McAfee parents students good information as they decide if moving off campus is the best fit for them.

If they do decide to move off campus and allow us to place them in the secure host home or Jett Inn, the university would provide assistance in packing belongings and transporting their belongings to their new location. In fact, details are forthcoming on how any residential student, regardless of where they are moving, can obtain volunteers and a truck to move their items to their new residence.

We do not want parents or students in McAfee to feel anxious about our request. We are just trying to determine the exact bedrooms that may be available on campus for those without transportation. If staying on campus is the best fit for you, that is not a problem at all and we gladly support that decision. As always, thank you for your patience as we work out the logistics. We are confident that we will be able to provide specific housing solutions for every single Union resident today and tomorrow.

Feb. 11 -- Daily update from the president

The Union community was strengthened on Sunday by taking time to gather with our various congregations across the area on Sunday to praise God for his faithfulness and to thank him for his goodness and mercy to us. Various teams gathered on Sunday afternoon to continue the clean-up of the campus. Major efforts will take place over the next two days to continue the work of securing student belongings from the residence life area. Work will also continue on Monday, with the help of many volunteers, with the clean-up process.

A major step forward toward finding housing for Union students took place on Sunday evening when the Englewood Baptist Church voted unanimously to allow us to use the Old English Inn for residence life space this spring (and next fall if necessary). For this amazing gift we are grateful. We thank the entire congregation, but particularly are grateful for Ben Mandrell and Paul Priddy.

The number of people who are making a critical difference in the life of Union University at this time continues to grow. For each and every one, we are certainly grateful.

We press on with the task to which we have now been called. We will continue to trust God for his guidance and direction. We should be able to make a significant announcement by the middle of this week regarding the spring schedule. For the expanding number of markers that indicate God's amazing providence and grace at work among us, we stand amazed.

May God continue to help us all.

-- David S. Dockery, president, Union University

Sunday, February 10, 2008

American Red Cross vouchers available

Students are strongly encouraged to contact the American Red Cross to determine if they qualify for vouchers. The American Red Cross is set up at 1981 Hollywood Drive (the old USJ Building). They can be contacted at (731) 427-5543.

They are open this week, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Most students will be eligible for some type of voucher.

(This is a totally separate agency than FEMA. Students should contact both agencies. The American Red Cross will provide more immediate vouchers and aid.)

Old English Inn to house 300 Union students through December

Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson voted unanimously Feb. 10 to open the entire Old English Inn, which the church owns and operates, to Union University students displaced by the Feb. 5 tornado that destroyed much of the Union’s residence life buildings.

The church action means that about 300 Union students will live at the facility through December 2008. Union has renamed the facility the Phil and Marilyn Jett Inn, in honor of longtime Englewood pastor Phil Jett, for the time that Union will use the facility.

“I want to thank Pastor Ben Mandrell and Mr. Paul Priddy, as well as the entire Englewood family, for their generous support of Union University during this challenging moment in our history,” Union President David S. Dockery said. “Their offer to provide housing for up to 300 Union University students is a mark of Christian charity and a genuine evidence of their love and support for the students of this institution.”

Mandrell, Englewood’s senior pastor, and Priddy, the church’s executive, approached Dockery about the possibility of the church helping Union in this way.

“Englewood Baptist Church has had a historic relationship with Union University, which includes our faithful ministry to faculty, staff and students for many years,” Mandrell said. “The opportunity to serve Union at this critical time in the life of the university enables us to carry out our mission to love God, love people and serve the world in a very tangible way.”

Initial plans are for about 180 women to live on the top floor, while about 120 men will stay on the bottom floor. In addition to the student rooms, the Phil and Marilyn Jett Inn has study rooms, gathering rooms and wireless Internet service throughout the facility.

“It is an exciting opportunity to think that we can house almost 300 students together in a new residence life situation for the good of the students and the enhancement of new student life efforts at Union University,” Dockery said.

Housing accommodations for the nearly 1,100 residential students have been a top priority for Union University administrators following the tornado that injured 51 students. In addition to the 300 students at the Phil and Marilyn Jett Inn, current plans are for another 350 students to continue living in undamaged residential life buildings on campus when classes resume the week of Feb. 18.

About 250 students have secured their own off-campus housing, and Union expects to place about 200 students in the homes of Union faculty, staff and friends.

Since students have already been charged for their on-campus housing for the semester, they will have some financial options from which to choose. Housing at the Phil and Marilyn Jett Inn will cost about 30 percent less than on-campus housing, so students placed at the hotel may choose to receive a credit of 30 percent of their on-campus housing costs. Or, they may donate up to that 30 percent to Union’s disaster relief fund.

For students who have secured their own housing, Union will credit their accounts.

More specific details about student housing efforts are forthcoming this week, and Student Services personnel will call each student individually to communicate the various details and options available to students.

Please visit UU Recovery for upcoming announcements.

Volunteer needs for Monday

Volunteers are needed at Union on Monday primarily for campus cleanup. Beyond Monday, there will be ongoing need for asssistance in four main areas:

1. Construction
2. Clean-up
3. Boxing and heavy lifting
4. Administrative support/mailout volunteers

Volunteers planning to come on Monday should first call (731) 661-5160 or (731) 661-5985.

On Monday, volunteers should report to Luther Hall at 9 a.m.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Procedures for adult classes in Jackson

Graduate and undergraduate adult student classes will temporarily meet off the Jackson campus, effective immediately.

Location may vary and times for the classes may var depending upon the particular program in which students are enrolled. We are sorry for the inconvenience and hope to be back on Union's campus as quickly as possible.

You will soon hear via telephone from your instructor or program director, who will give you more information. Please note the following details for each Jackson program:

BSOL, Evening BSW, MEd, MAEd, EdS, EdD and MBA students will all meet for their classes at Trinity Christian Academy on Windy City Road. Please note this exception: these procedures do not apply to courses where undergraduate and graduate students meet together. If you are enrolled in such a course, you will not return to class until the week of Feb. 18. If you have questions about this exception, please call your instructor or program director.

Directions to TCA: Take Highway 412 exit off I-40, driving north (toward Bells and Dyersburg) for 1.5 miles to a flashing traffic light. Turn right. Go straight on Old Bells Road (which becomes Windy City Road) for 1.5 miles to TCA. Enter the building through the entrance on the right side (as you face the building) of TCA.

These programs have classes that meet on Saturday, Monday evening, Tuesday evening and Thursday evening according to the already scheduled class times. Your classroom will be posted on the entry door at TCA.

Students in the MCS program and in both the graduate and non-traditional programs in the School of Nursing will resume classes the week of Feb. 11 in their regular location. BSNA students should access the School of Nursing Web site for additional details.

Online courses in all programs will continue as scheduled. Information regarding programming for traditional students is forthcoming.

New stories posted

Injured Union student compares rescue to salvation
Corker praises Union for inspiring the nation

Health Services hours

Health Services will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday until further notice.

Beginning Feb. 11, care will be provided at the SUB clinic location. First aid and other health issues will be managed at the Chi Omega house until then.

FEMA to set up mobile unit Feb. 10

Beginning Sunday, Feb. 10, at 7 a.m., FEMA will set up a mobile unit to offer assistance to all persons who have been affected by the tornado. All Union students are encouraged to register with FEMA in order to be considered for possible reimbursement for any uninsured losses.

The mobile unit will be located at 375 Vann Drive. For further information visit or call (800) 621-3362, or TTY users can dial (800) 462-7585 to use the Federal Relay Service. You are encouraged to call first to verify eligibility before traveling to the mobile unit.

FEMA has asked that students register at even if they do not know the extent of their losses at this point. Students must include their Union post office box in their address or their claim will automatically be rejected.

The mobile unit will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week.

Feb. 9 -- Daily update from the president

Progress continues with the clean-up of the Union campus. For the amazing work of Union faculty and staff in this effort, we are most grateful. Volunteers are making a very positive difference and we are grateful for each one of them.

We have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have contacted us with their desire to volunteer -- actually more volunteers than we can use at this time. Our rebuilding project will be lengthy and we hope that these volunteers will be willing to help us in weeks and months ahead. For every prayer, every word of support and encouragement and for every indicator of good will toward Union, we are indeed thankful.

I want to encourage students and parents to check the UU Recovery site for updates about recovery of belongings from the student residential life areas. Over 150 Union University staff members, led by Provost Carla Sanderson, are extending every effort possible, assisted by structural engineers and emergency personnel, to recover all undamaged student belongings from the residence life facilities.

Please follow the updates on the main Union Web site and the recovery site. Also, please check with the Volunteer Hot Line -- (731) 661-5160 -- or the helpful staff at Union Station -- (731) 668-1818 or (731) 661-5000 -- for needed information.

We thank God for His providential care and direction as we seek to move forward. We are encouraged by the wisdom of one of the church's great leaders from centuries ago: "Let us do the necessary so that we can do the possible, and soon God will lead us to do the impossible." By God's grace we will continue to move forward together for the good of Union University.

-- David S. Dockery, president, Union University

Blythe, Duncan, Ellis residents can pick up belongings today

On Saturday morning between 10 a.m. and noon, students who were residents in Blythe and Duncan (only) can report to Union University's Luther Hall located near the south entrance on Country Club Lane to obtain an official pass to enter campus where you will may pick up your belongings in DeLay Gymnasium. Residents of Ellis (only) can report to Luther Hall between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

If you are unable to come to campus at the designated time on Saturday, please continue to check the website for specific times to participate in belonging distribution.

Dehoney now open for students to retrieve items

The McAfee building of Dehoney is now open for students to pick up necessary items (optional) and will be available to move in during the week of Feb. 18. All students must check in at the Zeta house and have an approved escort to take them to their apartment. Anyone without an escort will be denied access to their apartment.

Trips to apartments are limited to Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-4 p.m.; and Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Please see web sites for times after Feb. 15. Again, Dehoney will NOT be bagged by a UU recovery team as stated in the 12:42 p.m. post, and will be available to move in on Feb. 18.

The only McAfee buildings where student belongings will be bagged (if possible) by the UU recovery team are Gray and Dodd, because they will be unavailable for student housing.

Craig and Jarman buildings in move-in condition

The McAfee buildings of Craig and Jarman are now open for students to pick up necessary items (optional) and will be available to move in on Feb. 18. All students must check in at the Zeta house and have an approved escort to take them to their apartment. Anyone without an escort will be denied access to their apartment.

Trips to apartments are limited to Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-4 p.m.; and Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Please see web sites for times after Feb. 15.

Again, Craig and Jarmen will NOT be bagged by a UU recovery team as stated in the 12:42 p.m. post, and will be available to move in on Feb. 18.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Status for volunteers on Monday

Volunteers may no longer be needed for cleanup efforts on Monday, depending upon the amount of work completed on campus on Saturday. If preliminary cleanup is completed on Saturday, professionals will come on Monday to start their work.

An update will be posted on this site later in the day on Saturday.

New stories posted

Two new stories have been posted on the main Union site:

Union students recall shock of tragic tornado
Concussion leaves Union student with no memory of devastating tornado

Counseling services available

Union University Counseling Services is sponsoring a care-and-comfort station at the SAE house.

This is a casual and confidential place to talk about your storm experiences. Call to schedule your group for a debriefing session. Natural groups work best: students, roommates, departments, Greek organizations, staff, faculty, facilities, families.

Call Paul Deschenes at (731) 437-0316 to schedule your group. Individual sessions may also be scheduled.

FEMA claims

All students who have experienced damage to personal belongings are encouraged to file the appropriate papers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the possibility of FEMA reimbursement.

If a student contacts FEMA, the communication and process will occur directly between the student and FEMA. The contact number is (800) 621-3362.

Feb. 8 update: Housing information

We want to provide an update on housing matters and the retrieval of personal belongings from the various residence life facilities. Please know that every effort will be made to retrieve all undamaged personal items from the apartments. We are grateful for your patience and understanding during this challenging process.

McAfee Complex

The following specific apartments are open (as of Feb. 8, 2008) for students to pick up necessary items (optional) and will be available to move in on Feb. 18. All students must check in at the Zeta house and have an approved escort to take them to their apartment. Anyone without an escort will be denied access to their apartment.

Trips to apartments are limited to Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-4 p.m.; and Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Please see web sites for times after Feb. 15.


The following specific apartments will be bagged by the UU recovery team (only). They will be repaired and available for move-in for the spring semester:


The following specific apartment will be bagged by the UU recovery team (only) and will not be available for move-in at any time in the spring:


The following apartments have limited entry by the UU recovery team (only) so bagging will be limited. These rooms will not be available for move-in at any time in the future:


Hurt Complex

Approved buildings in Hurt will be bagged by the UU recovery team (only) and placed in an on-campus holding area. UU staff will contact you when your belongings are available for pick-up. Calls will begin as early as Feb. 9. Please do not call us, and we will call you as soon as possible.

Watters Complex

Approved buildings in Watters will be bagged by the UU recovery team (only) and placed in an on-campus holding area. UU staff will contact you when your belongings are available for pick-up. Calls will begin as early as Feb. 9. Please do not call us, and we will call you as soon as possible.

All Residential Students

*All residential students will be contacted beginning today regarding your options for spring housing.

New stories posted

Three new stories have been posted on the main Union site:

Dockery: Students are primary concern
Government officials visit Union following tragic tornado
Ethopian student survives first tornado

Health services information

Students who lost medications, medical devices, eyeglasses or other health-related items may e-mail Health Services’ Paul Mayer at Emergency requests may be made by calling (731) 437-0316.

Insurance claims

Students are encouraged to contact their parents' homeowners insurance agency regarding covering of their campus belongings.

Car insurance companies should be contacted regarding car damage and information about the next steps to be taken.

Feb. 8 -- Daily update from the president

We have turned the corner on phase one of our recovery process, moving out of our initial emergency phase to a long-term look at recovery. The next steps will focus on campus clean up, which will begin on Friday morning.

Faculty and staff, who are available to help, and other volunteers should report to Luther Hall at the south end of the campus between 9 and 9:30 a.m. We will begin these important efforts, which will also include the ongoing efforts to help retrieve student belongings from the dorm rooms. We will also prioritize these two activities on Saturday.

We continue to pray for our students, especially those who are recovering from injury and those who are experiencing displacement I am so grateful for all who have provided such personal attention and care for our students during this time.

We were pleased to welcome Gov. Bredesen, as well as the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of FEMA, to campus on Thursday. They represent people from across the nation who are offering their prayers, their encouragement and their support for us during this time. We give thanks for each one of them. TBC and SBC leaders also came to campus on Thursday to pray for us and to offer their support for Union. We are deeply moved by this outpouring of support.

We will be announcing important matters regarding temporary housing for our students, as well as scheduling considerations for the remainder of the spring semester in the next few days. I am so very thankful for everyone's patience as we assess and prioritize the many, many decisions that have to be made at this time.

It is important for us to recognize that we must move to an "essentialist" mindset for the remainder of the spring semester. This is a different way of thinking about our work at Union University, but it will hopefully allow us to have the right framework to think about the many changes that are forthcoming, some of which, I am sure, we have yet even to consider.

Everyone continues to have a wonderful spirit of hopefulness as we face the challenging days ahead. We must think differently, even as we claim the same "Union spirit" that has been so important for our community in days past. Above all, we must continue to think in an "other-centered" way, so that we think about those things that are good for all, and those about us, even as we ultimately place our trust and hope in our providential God, who will guide us each step of the way.

-- David S. Dockery, president, Union University

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Volunteers needed starting Monday

To volunteer for cleanup efforts beginning Monday, call Larry Vaughan at (731) 661-5160.

No additional volunteers are needed for tomorrow or Saturday.

UPDATE: See newest post about the status of volunteer needs.

Temporary identification

Students who need temporary identification for air travel or to function as a driver's license should contact Linda Cone at (731) 423-6622.

Cost is $20 for out-of-state students or $8 for in-state students.

Students will need to obtain an official letter from Union with their name, date of birth and enrollment status. See Dottie Myatt in the Chi Omega house for this letter.

Replacement IDs

Students needing passports, driver's licenses or any other identification should contact Jane Jolley in Sen. Bob Corker's office at (731) 424-9655 or

Feb. 7 -- Daily update from the president

Let me begin by once again offering our heartfelt thanks for everyone who has provided help, support, service and prayers for the Union University community during this incredibly challenging time.

At the 36-hour mark, we have moved from the emergency phase to the recovery and restoration phase of our efforts.

On Thursday, Feb. 7 our efforts will focus on helping students remove their vehicles from the campus.

Students and parents should report to the Chi Omega house to work with student life teams to retrieve their vehicles between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Tennessee Guard will be working with Union security to retrieve undamaged personal goods from various residence life rooms Feb. 7-8. All personal belongings will be bagged so that students can retrieve their undamaged personal goods beginning on Feb. 18.

The damage not only to buildings and university property is severe, but the damage to student possessions and belongings has been equally severe.

All questions should be communicated through the switchboard at (731) 661-5000 or (731) 668-1818.

Faculty, staff and community volunteers who want to participate in the cleanup process are encouraged to report to Luther Hall at the south end of the university campus at 9 a.m. on Friday and/or Saturday, Feb. 8-9.

Union University friends who wish to help our students during this time of crisis are encouraged to support the university through the designated disaster relief fund or by providing gift cards to Wal-Mart, Target, Lowe’s or Home Depot for our students. Please send all monetary and gift card donations to:

Union University Disaster Relief Fund
1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, TN 38305
Give Online

Gifts of gloves, trash bags, rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows and other materials needed to assist with the cleanup should be taken to Luther Hall.

David S. Dockery
Union University

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Letter from President Dockery

Dear Parents and Friends of Union University:

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening, the Union University campus was devastated by serious tornadic activity, resulting in extensive damage to the facilities. Following a nearly five-hour emergency effort, all students -- including the 13 who were trapped in the fallen rubble -- were rescued. Fifty-one students were taken to the hospital, nine of whom suffered serious injury. By God’s providence, no lives were lost.

Seventeen buildings received some kind of damage. Approximately 40 percent of the dorms were destroyed, and another 40 percent were severely damaged. Additional damage has been observed in other academic and administrative buildings. The damage from this storm exceeds the impact of the 2002 tornado by 15-fold.

Classes will not begin again before Feb. 18. We encourage all Union friends to stay in touch with us through the Union Web site at

At this time, we want to thank everyone who has given help, provided service and offered ongoing prayer on behalf of Union University. We thank God for His providential care. With the help of God, we will move forward together.

Finally, I want to offer highest commendations for our students and the Student Life Team, who have handled this challenge in amazing ways. For your friendship, your support and your ongoing prayers for Union, we are most grateful.

David S. Dockery
Union University