Union trustees approve tenure and faculty promotions, $95 million budget

April 12, 2021

McAfee School of Business faculty

Union University trustees celebrated the 25th anniversary of the McAfee School of Business, approved a $95 million budget and granted tenure and promotions to several professors during their April 9 meeting on the Union campus.

In his report to trustees, Union President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver updated them on the status of the university’s “United in Spirit. Grounded in Truth.” strategic plan, which was adopted in 2015. Oliver shared success stories from each of seven strategic themes that the plan emphasizes: bearing witness to the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, expanding enrollment across the university, enhancing operational effectiveness and efficiency to advance the mission, revising the liberal arts core curriculum, supporting meaningful research among faculty and students, developing leaders for the future, and bolstering student life and building community.

For example, Oliver reported to trustees on the patents secured by Blake Watkins, professor and chair of pharmaceutical sciences in Union’s College of Pharmacy. He also cited the university’s Leadership Union program which has trained about 50 faculty and staff members in leadership principles over the past five years.

“The strategic plan builds on our strengths and core values of being excellence-driven, Christ-centered, people-focused and future-directed,” Oliver said. “Its strategies and accompanying goals have enabled Union to pursue ongoing distinctiveness in its academic programs, constantly seeking after Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate embodiment of truth.”

The budget approved by trustees of $95.1 million for the 2021-2022 academic year is an increase of 4.3 percent, or about $4 million from this year’s budget.

Trustees approved tenure for four professors: Phil Davignon, associate professor of sociology; Tammy Patton, associate professor of social work; Greg Ryan, associate professor of political science, and Jacob Shatzer, associate professor of theological studies.

Fourteen professors were promoted. Those promoted to university professor were Mark Dubis in the School of Theology and Missions, Sally Henrie in the Department of Chemistry and Mary Anne Poe in the School of Social Work. Promoted to professor were Allison Davis in the College of Nursing, Zachery Halford in the College of Pharmacy, James Kerfoot in the Department of Biology, Chris Manner and Dan Slater in the McAfee School of Business, and Geoffrey Poore in the Department of Physics.

Promoted to associate professor were Jeremy Blaschke in the Department of Biology, Jennifer Delk and Lori Taylor in the College of Nursing, and Brooke Emery and Joseph Xu in the McAfee School of Business.

In addition, trustees granted emeritus status to five professors. Emeritus status may be awarded to Union faculty who are retired from the university, hold at least the rank of assistant professor, completed at least 15 years of full-time service, demonstrated excellence in their work and are recommended by the department chair and dean.

Professors who were awarded with emeritus status were Elizabeth Bedsole, retiring in 2021 as professor of music; Steve Beverly, retiring in 2021 as associate professor of communication arts; Theresa Blakley, retiring in 2021 as professor of social work; William Nance, retiring in 2021 as associate professor of management; and Thomas Proctor, who retired in 2020 as professor of accounting.

“Union has been tremendously blessed with professors who model excellence and Christian character, and who instill in their students a love for God and for learning,” said Chad P. Wilson, chair of Union’s Board of Trustees. “We are so thankful for these professors who were recognized this year, and for all of our professors who are characterized by faithfulness and a devotion to the mission of Union University.”

In other business, trustees approved Jeff Perkins and Chuck Baker as new members of the Union University Foundation Board. Perkins is owner and vice president of Akin and Porter Produce in Greenfield, Tennessee. Baker has spent more than 40 years in business and retired in 2020 as vice president of advancement at Bryan College.

At an April 8 dinner prior to their meeting the next day, trustees heard from dean Jason Garrett, Union professors Karen Miller and Santhosh Abraham, and student Jacob Guyette, all from the McAfee School of Business. Named for James T. McAfee Jr., a 1961 Union graduate, the McAfee School of Business has been part of Union for more than 25 years and trains students to fulfill their purpose in Christ and society.