For the Lord's most evident blessings and guidance for Union University this past week, we are most grateful. What an amazing week it was! The move-in process went extremely well. The Lord's presence was obvious at the worship service on Tuesday night. Everyone has adjusted rather easily to the new class schedules on Wednesday and Thursday. We experienced a historic day on Friday with the groundbreaking service. The packed gymnasium on Thursday night with two wins over our friends from FHU was certainly a "welcome back" highlight.
As one visitor from a west coast institution who was with us this past week said, "It doesn't feel like there was a tornado here; it feels like something very good and special has taken place." While that is quite an overstatement, it does point to the positive and hopeful spirit across the campus. The student retention is absolutely amazing, and something for which we should all rejoice.
Our journey forward will be long and challenging and not without a bump or two in the road, I am sure. With God's help and gracious enablement, we can take the next step . . . and the next one. Across all departments and areas on both the Jackson and Germantown campuses there is a renewed commitment to our shared work at Union University. I have had so many opportunities to tell people far and wide about the terrific staff and faculty that can be found at Union University.
We must continue to pray for God's blessings for Union. I am telling people that we need many prayers and many generous donors. We are thankful for small sacrificial gifts and several larger six-figure gifts. We are now praying for seven-figure gifts to help us take large steps forward. We should all rejoice, however, that in such a short time we have already received over $3.5 million from more than 1,500 donors. We will need almost six times that amount throughout the rest of this calendar year and we will trust the Lord to open the windows of heaven for Union University. Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page will be on campus on Wednesday, Feb. 27, to echo his call for churches across the SBC to join him in support for Union at this time. The generous responses from our colleagues in higher education and our friends in the churches have been heartwarming and meaningful.
I was privileged to have a wonderful meeting with our student leaders this past Wednesday night. They have asked if I would bring a similar update along with a question and answer session for other students who might wish to attend tonight. I look forward to meeting with students in the chapel this evening at 9 p.m. I hope the time will be informative and clarifying for all.
On Friday we will welcome almost 80 outstanding students who will be here for "Scholars' Weekend." We are hopeful for all of these to join another 400 or so who will make up the freshman class of Union University in the fall of 2008. This will be a very important weekend for them and for us. I remain very excited about those who will join the Union University community in the fall.
We are thankful for the privilege we have to watch the development of the campus in coming days. We remain grateful for all who have encouraged, supported and prayed for us over the past three weeks. Particularly, we want to ask our friends to continue to pray for our students, staff, and faculty in days to come.
David S. Dockery, President, Union University