Union University Adopts ‘Union 2010: A Vision for Excellence’

Union University, a Tennessee Baptist Convention-related educational institution, approved three new graduate degrees in Christian studies as part of the university’s five year “Union 2010: A Vision for Excellence” plan.

Under the plan, the university’s Christian studies department will launch a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies, a Master of Arts in ethics, and a Master of Christian Studies. According to George Guthrie, chair of Union’s Christian Studies department, the first two degrees are geared toward fulltime students while the last degree is specifically designed for the staff and church members in the region.

“It gives us a presence in broader Baptist life in terms of graduate education in Christian studies,” Guthrie said about the new degree programs, to the Baptist Press. “It takes the quality of what we’ve been doing at the undergraduate level and moves it up a notch.”

The master’s programs are meant to compliment the hundreds of students that have been graduating from Union’s undergraduate program. According to BP, Union’s Christian Studies department grew “considerably over the past decade, with the number of majors increasing from 70 to 230 and faculty increasing from six to 13.”

“With the rising levels of our undergraduate programs, we’ve had students who wanted to be pushed to the next level here, and that’s where the Master of Arts degrees come from,” Guthrie said.

The Union 2010 plan, which was adopted during the seminary’s board of trustees’ meeting in Dec. 3, also calls for new construction on campus and increased fall enrollment.

“I believe Union University is on the verge of a major breakthrough,” Union President David Dockery said after the meeting, according to Baptist Press. “This plan for 2010 will keep us focused on the future, and will keep before us a vision of what we expect Union to be.”

Meanwhile, in other business, the board of trustees also adopted a “process to handle questions and inquiries related to the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s doctrinal investigation of the three Baptist colleges in Tennessee,” according to BP.

The Tennessee Convention, part of the larger Southern Baptist Convention, voted on Nov. 10 to undergo investigations of the three Baptist colleges under its auspices. The three colleges are Union university, Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, and the Belmont University in Nashville.

The motion for the investigation came up when a Carson-Newman College student stated that his professors told him the Bible had errors and contradictions.

Dockery said Union “has had no charges leveled against it. Nevertheless, we recognize our responsibility and accountability to the churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. We will be glad to cooperate and participate in the study that was called for at this year’s convention. We believe our trustees will be happy to lead this process and as a result we should be a better institution with better relationships with the churches in days ahead.”

Dockery said Union trustees “went on record [Dec. 3] affirming the faculty, wanting to assure them that in the midst of the TBC study that no additional concerns or anxiety should develop. The board strongly supports the serious academic work in which they are involved.”

A 10-member committee was chosen to work with the Convention’s education committee in resolving the issue.

According to Dockery, the committee “will respond regarding Union’s commitment to the authority of Scripture, to the uniqueness of the Gospel, to the place of a Christian worldview in liberal arts education and to the importance of reclaiming the Christian intellectual tradition in a secular, postmodern culture.

“Union’s commitment to being historically Baptist, evangelical by conviction and Christ-centered provides the framework for carrying out the mission of the university.”