Union University
Former names
Jackson Male Academy (1823–1844)
West Tennessee College (1844–1874)[1]
Hall-Moody Junior College (1900–1927)
Union University (1848–1859, 1868–1873)
Southwestern Baptist University (1875–1907)[2]
MottoReligio et Eruditio[3]
Established1823; 201 years ago (1823)
Religious affiliation
Tennessee Baptist Convention (Southern Baptist Convention)
Academic staff
201 full time

35°40′59″N 88°51′23″W / 35.6830°N 88.8565°W / 35.6830; -88.8565
CampusUrban, 290 acres (120 ha)
ColorsCardinal & cream
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIGulf South

Union University is a private Baptist Christian university in Jackson, Tennessee, with additional campuses in Germantown and Hendersonville. The university is affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention (Southern Baptist Convention). It is a union of several different schools: West Tennessee College, formerly known as Jackson Male Academy; Union University of Murfreesboro; Southwestern Baptist University; and Hall-Moody Junior College of Martin, Tennessee.[4]


Early history

1822 ad for Jackson Male Academy.

Jackson Male Academy was founded in 1823 just after West Tennessee was opened for settlement.[5] Only five years earlier in 1818 was the land purchased from the Chickasaw Indians.

Union University was established in 1875 in a consolidation of Southwestern Baptist College at Murfreesboro and West Tennessee College at Jackson.

In 1907, Dr. T.T. Eaton, a trustee of Southwestern Baptist University, left his 6,000 volume library to the college. Eaton was a former professor of Union University at Murfreesboro, where his father, Dr. Joseph H. Eaton, was a former president. Later that year Southwestern changed its name to Union University to honor the Eatons and others from Union at Murfreesboro who had impacted Southwestern as faculty, administrators, trustees, and contributors.[6]

In 1925 the Tennessee Baptist Convention secured a charter that vested the rights, authority, and property of Union University in the Tennessee Convention. This charter included the election of the university's trustees. Two years later, the Convention consolidated Hall-Moody Junior College at Martin (1900–1927) with Union University; the former Hall-Moody campus subsequently became the location of the University of Tennessee Junior College, now the University of Tennessee at Martin.

In 1948 the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted Union University accreditation.

In 1962 Union developed a nursing program with the assistance of Jackson-Madison County General Hospital at the request of local physicians.

In 1975 Union moved from downtown Jackson, Tennessee, to a new campus located near the Highway 45-Bypass in north Jackson.

The Craig and Barefoot Administrations

During President Robert Craig (1967–85) and President Hyran Barefoot's (1987–1996) administrations:

From the early 1950s to the early 1970s, Union operated an Extension Center in the Memphis area. From 1987 to 1995, Union offered the degree-completion program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN track) in Memphis. At that time there were over 300 graduates of this program.

David S. Dockery's Administration

Dr. David Dockery at Union University

David S. Dockery was elected as the fifteenth president of Union University in December 1995. Dockery brought a desire to take Union to a more rigorous, conservative path. During his administration, which lasted until 2014, he realized:

2008 tornado

One of the Union dorms that was destroyed by the February 5, 2008 tornado.
Radar loop of the Nashville, Jackson and Christian County, Kentucky supercells. Those supercells were responsible for at least 32 deaths (courtesy of NWS Nashville)

Main article: 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak

On February 5, 2008, at 7:02 p.m., the university was struck by an EF4 tornado, with winds between 166 and 200 miles per hour (267 and 322 km/h). The tornado destroyed 18 dormitory buildings and caused over $40 million worth of damage to the campus, which suffered a direct hit, rendering almost 80% of the dormitory space to be either totally destroyed or unlivable. None of the approximately 1,800 students on campus at the time were killed. David Dockery, the president of the university, said:

I'm convinced-nobody will ever convince me otherwise-that God's angels were unleashed to come as ministering spirits to protect those students in the most precarious of situations.

Fifty-one students were taken to Jackson-Madison General Hospital. While most students were released after being treated, nine were kept overnight. Some students were trapped for hours while emergency crews worked to rescue them. A total of 31 buildings received damage of varying degrees.[8] The devastation captured nationwide attention and was featured by CNN, Fox News,[9] The New York Times[10] and numerous regional news outlets. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, FEMA Director R. David Paulison and Governor of Tennessee Phil Bredesen all visited the campus after the disaster.[11]

The Commercial Appeal reported that due to extensive damage, the campus would not reopen until February 18.[12] Lambuth University, a rival area university, reportedly offered to open its dormitories to displaced Union students. The congregation of Englewood Baptist Church, which owned the Old English Inn in Jackson, voted unanimously to open the inn to Union students. The church's move accommodated almost 300 students until December 2008. The university also expected that around 200 students would be housed in the private homes of Union faculty, staff and friends.

The February 5, 2008 event was the second time in just over five years that the campus was hit by a tornado. On the evening of November 10, 2002, during the Veterans Day Weekend tornado outbreak, the university was struck by an F1 tornado, with winds of approximately 100 miles per hour, which did approximately 2 million dollars worth of damage to the university. There were no serious injuries.[13] Union president David Dockery stated that the February 5, 2008 tornado was about 15 times as bad at the 2002 tornado. The damage caused by the February 5th tornado was estimated at $40 million.[14]

Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver's administration

Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver became Union University's sixteenth president in June 2014. He previously worked at Baylor University and was president at East Texas Baptist University for five years.

Thus far in his presidency, he has achieved:


President Tenure Institution
1 Joseph H. Eaton 1848–1859 Union University (Murfreesboro)
2 James Madison Pendleton Union University (Murfreesboro)
3 Charles Manley Union University (Murfreesboro)
4 John W. Conger 1907–1909 Union University (Jackson)
5 Isaac B. Tigrett 1909–1911 Union University (Jackson)
6 Robert A. Kimbrough 1911–1913 Union University (Jackson)
7 Richard M. Inlow June 1913–December 1913 Union University (Jackson)
8 Albert T. Barrett 1913–1915 Union University (Jackson)
9 George M. Savage 1915–1918 Union University (Jackson)
10 Henry Eugene Watters 1918–1931 Union University (Jackson)
11 John Jeter Hurt 1931–1945 Union University (Jackson)
12 Warren F. Jones 1945–1963 Union University (Jackson)
13 Francis E. Wright 1963–1967 Union University (Jackson)
14 Robert E. Craig 1967–1986 Union University (Jackson)
15 Hyran E. Barefoot 1986–1996 Union University (Jackson)
16 David S. Dockery 1996–2014 Union University (Jackson)
17 Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver 2014–present Union University (Jackson)



Union University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). On July 14, 2013, Union University announced that its Business Program had earned accreditation from The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).[16]


Miller Tower at Union University

For 2015, U.S. News ranked Union 14th among "Regional Universities" in the South. It has been recognized by Peterson's Competitive College Guide, the Time/Princeton Review, and Templeton's Colleges that Encourage Character Development. Union is a recipient of the President's Higher Education Community Service Award and has been listed as one of America's Top 100 College Buys. In addition, U.S. News has cited Union as an "A+ option for serious B students," among "Up and Coming Schools" and among schools "where the faculty has an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching."

Union is also recognized in:


Jackson facilities

The campus is 290 acres (1.2 km2) and includes a 2,200-seat gymnasium, dormitories for men and women including a married housing complex, separate lodges for the fraternities and sororities, academic halls, an administration center, baseball and softball parks, two soccer fields, and wellness center.[18]

Germantown facilities

Union also has a 35-acre (140,000 m2) campus in Germantown, Tennessee, (suburban Memphis) offering graduate degrees in business, education, Christian studies & nursing. The degrees in education include the M.Ed., M.A.Ed., Ed.S., and Ed.D.[19]

Hendersonville facilities

Union's newest location is in Hendersonville, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. This campus offers graduate degrees in education and Christian studies.[20]


In Jackson, Union has apartment-style living. Each student has a separate private bedroom that shares a common living space with three roommates. All apartments feature a high-speed Internet connection, as well as kitchen unit. Some apartments feature private phone lines or a washer and dryer. All private living spaces have a window and the common areas have cable TV access. There is no student housing at the Germantown campus. Temporary off campus housing was at The Jett (the former Old English Inn) for the majority of the spring 2008 semester.[21]


Main article: Union University Bulldogs

Union (Tenn.) athletic teams are the Bulldogs. The university is a member of the NCAA Division II level, primarily competing in the Gulf South Conference (GSC) since the 2012–13 academic year. They were also a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), primarily competing as an independent in the Mid-East Region of the Division I level. The Bulldogs previously competed in the defunct TranSouth Athletic Conference (TranSouth or TSAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1996–97 to 2011–12. Union began the three-year transition to full NCAA Division II membership in 2011.

Union (Tenn.) competes in 11 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf and soccer; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball and volleyball. Former sports included cheerleading.


In the NAIA, Union captured five women's basketball national titles (1998, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010). Union also has won national titles in the NCCAA in volleyball (2003), men's soccer (2004), softball (2001, 2002, 2004, 2013) and women's basketball (2014).

Greek system

There are six social fraternities and sororities on campus, two music fraternities and numerous academic fraternities.

Each of these groups is relatively large in size relative to the size of the institution and consistently contributes to philanthropies, both regionally and globally. The number of members in the social fraternities can range between 20 and 80 members per chapter.

The fraternities and sororities are an active presence on campus through philanthropy, intramural sports and Greek Olympics.[22]


The fraternities represented on campus are:

Fraternity Chapter Chartered locally
Alpha Tau Omega Tennessee Beta Tau February 28, 1894
Lambda Chi Alpha Lambda-Zeta Zeta December 5, 1964
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Tennessee Eta July 4, 1857


The sororities represented on campus are:

Sorority Chapter Chartered locally
Chi Omega Upsilon 1904
Kappa Delta Zeta Beta February 10, 1990
Zeta Tau Alpha Beta Omega December 11, 1935


The academic fraternities are:

Fraternity Discipline
Alpha Psi Omega Theater
Phi Alpha Theta History
Phi Beta Lambda Business
Pi Gamma Mu Social Sciences
Psi Chi Psychology
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music
Sigma Tau Delta English


The school upholds a strict code of conduct regarding sex outside of marriage, homosexual acts, gender identity, pregnancy and abortion. In 2008, Union denied the Soulforce Equality Ride, a group advocating for the safe treatment of homosexual and transgender students, access to its campus. [23] In 2015, Union withdrew from the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities after two council colleges claimed that they were willing to hire faculty members in same sex marriages. [24]


Guest lecture events

Annual Scholarship Banquet

Union's Scholarship Banquet has brought prominent national and international figures to Union including: former presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Russian president and Nobel Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former Senator Bob Dole, presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, former British Prime Minister John Major, Tony Blair, and Winston S. Churchill, Grandson of the former British Prime Minister.[25]

Union Forum

Union's Forum is an annual speaker series that has brought several national figures to Union, including Peggy Wehmeyer, William Kristol, Michael Medved, Robert Novak, Stephen Carter, Morton Kondracke, Clarence Page, Juan Williams, and Margaret Carlson.[26]

Notable people


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Howell Jackson
William Hicks Jackson
David Alexander Nunn

Faculty and administration

Benjamin Lee Arnold Union University professor, later president of Oregon State University


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  2. ^ "HISTORY". uu.edu. Union University. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  3. ^ "RELIGIO ET ERUDITIO" (PDF). uu.edu. Union University. Retrieved 18 June 2023.
  4. ^ a b "History | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. 2015-11-06. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  5. ^ "History | Union University". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  6. ^ "History of Union University". Union University. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  7. ^ "Giving to Union | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  8. ^ 東京旅行で楽しむ、お台場などの人気の場所へ観光. "東京旅行で楽しむ、お台場などの人気の場所へ観光". Uurecovery.com. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  9. ^ "Clean-Up to Begin at Union University After Tornado Destroyed Dorms, Campus". Fox News. December 6, 2011.
  10. ^ Dewan, Shaila; Goodman, Brenda (7 February 2008). "Toll of Deadly Tornadoes in South Climbs Past 50". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  11. ^ "UUEmergency". UUEmergency.com. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  12. ^ [1] Archived July 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Union University suffers damage from F1 tornado - News Release | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. 2002-11-12. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  14. ^ "Welcome to nginx eaa1a9e1db47ffcca16305566a6efba4!". Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  15. ^ "About the Center | Carl Grant Events Center | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee".
  16. ^ "Union University's business school earns AACSB accreditation - News Release | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  17. ^ "Union At A Glance | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  18. ^ "Jackson Campus Map | Union University". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  19. ^ "Germantown / Memphis | Degree Programs for Adults | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  20. ^ "Hendersonville / Nashville | Degree Programs for Adults | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  21. ^ "Residence Life | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  22. ^ "Greek Life | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  23. ^ http://www.archives.soulforce.org/2008/11/10/locked-out-of-my-own-school-equality-ride-visits-union-university/
  24. ^ J.C. Derrick (12 August 2015). "CCCU loses Union University". World Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
  25. ^ "Scholarship Banquet | Events | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. 2015-10-06. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  26. ^ "Union Forum | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee". Uu.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  27. ^ Harrison, Bobby (February 21, 2015). "McMahan running for state Senate". Djournal.com. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  28. ^ "R. R. Sneed Dies At Jackson Home". The Tennessean. June 15, 1947. p. 6. Retrieved May 1, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "Higher Learning Commission". Ncahlc.org. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  30. ^ Archived 2020-07-05 at the Wayback Machine[dead link]