It has been six weeks since we started the recovery and rebuilding process at Union University. In some ways the time has passed ever so quickly. In other ways, the six weeks seem at least like six months. Our prayer that God would bring renewal out of the rubble is being answered. Good things are happening across this campus in the lives of students, staff, faculty, and administrators. We offer thanksgiving to God for His work among us.
The repairs for White Hall, Jennings Hall, and Hammons Hall are moving forward. Some repairs, like those in the Barefoot Building and the Blasingame Building, will not take place until later this spring or summer. We do hope that a visible difference will be seen in the work on the Dodd and Gray residence life facilities by the conclusion of spring break. Weather permitting, we hope to see large portions of those two buildings demolished as the efforts to repair and rebuild begin. Work on the Events Center/Banquet Facility continues. We are encouraged by these things.
Excitement grows as the new residence life facilities are starting to take shape. The framing process has started on some buildings. The foundation work and pad placement continues in other areas. Overall, we have four contractors, one architectural and engineering firm, and numerous subcontractors at work. Altogether there are are several hundred workers on campus each day.
Please let me remind everyone that the Walker Road entrance is reserved primarily for construction workers. The new "cut-through" roads from the Blasingame parking lot into the McAfee and Warmath lots have helped greatly. At certain times during the day we still face significant parking challenges. I remain ever so grateful for everyone's patience as we work through these challenges together.
Let me remind parents and students that the traditional housing policies will be back in effect for the fall semester. Any returning student who before Feb. 25 had signed an off-campus housing lease that extends into the fall should immediately contact Kathy Southall or Kimberly Thornbury.
I am thankful to report that we have now received a little more than $5.1 million from over 3,200 different donors toward the recovery and rebuilding process. The donors represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and a few countries outside the United States. We are thankful for how the Lord has touched the hearts of these people to help us in our time of need. For every gift, large or small, we are most grateful. We certainly pray for the special offerings for Union University that will be taken in hundreds of Baptist churches on April 6. The financial needs for Union University remain quite large, but we are so encouraged by the support that has already been provided.
We wish the Lady Bulldogs much success as they enter the NAIA national women's basketball tournament, which will be held in Jackson from March 19-25. We hope many of you can come out to support Coach Campbell and his outstanding team.
Spring break will begin on Good Friday. Classes will resume on March 31. I applaud those who helped revise the spring semester calendar for leaving the spring break week as it was originally scheduled. Everyone is extremely tired. We need to pray that the Lord will give us rest and renew our energies for the remaining weeks of this semester (Isaiah 40:31). We pray for students who will be serving and ministering over the spring break, especially for those who are going to other communities that have received tornado damage in recent weeks. Also, we will pray for Dr. Richard Joiner, the Union Singers, and representatives of the music department as they depart campus for their tour during the spring break.
We would ask for everyone to please continue to pray for our injured students and their families. We ask the Lord to do a special work in and among them. We pray for safety for all who are traveling over the break. Finally, we ask the Lord to be with our Board of Trustees as they prepare to gather for the spring meeting April 3-4.
As we approach Easter Sunday, we pray that the hope of the resurrection will bring grace, mercy, and peace to you and your families. For God's providential blessings, provision, and protection to the Union community over the past 42 days we are indeed grateful. May the Lord be with you.
David S. Dockery
President, Union University