Groundbreaking kicks off trustee meeting; trustees adopt strategic plan
JACKSON — Anna Beth Morgan has been studying and learning about the library building process in general for years. She’s been planning and thinking about Union University’s new library specifically for months.
On April 12, those plans took a major step toward reality for Morgan, the director of Union’s library, as the university held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new 60,000-square-foot library and academic resource center.
“It’s been wonderful to actually have the experience to put that learning in practice,” Morgan said. “It’s a really exciting phase to have achieved.”
The groundbreaking kicked off two days of events for Union trustees at their spring meeting. Following the groundbreaking ceremony, Union held a tribute dinner to thank significant donors for their contributions to the university. The next day, Union trustees approved a $92 million budget and a strategic plan that will guide the university’s operations and goals over the next three years.
The three-story library will be located between Jennings Hall and Miller Tower and will be more than twice the size of Union’s current library, housed in the Penick Academic Complex. The facility will expand the capacity for new holdings and will serve as a complete academic resource center to serve the research and resource needs of a 21st century academic community, Union President David S. Dockery said.
“Today is a day of celebration and a day of thanksgiving,” Dockery said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “This facility that we are launching today is unlike any that we’ve ever built on this campus – not only in its scope, size and majesty, but in its function. It will be something that will serve every aspect and constituency of this university and beyond.”
Designed by TLM Associates in Jackson, the library building will have an open feel with numerous large windows for external lighting. It will be capped by a large dome.
The first floor will contain seminar rooms, group study and collaborative study rooms, a reception area and auditorium. The second floor will primarily house Union’s growing collection of books and academic resources. The third floor will include archives and a heritage room.
Construction will begin later this year, with an estimated completion date in early 2014.
Union announced plans for the new facility in October, thanks to a $10 million lead gift by the Bill and Carol Latimer Foundation. The university also announced a capital campaign to raise an additional $10 million for the project, as the Latimer gift will match every dollar given up to $10 million. Through the end of March, donors had given or pledged more than $5.8 million toward the library project, or about 60 percent of the campaign goal.
“We are incredibly excited about this project and ever grateful for all who have given to support this magnificent facility,” Dockery said.
At the “President’s Tribute” banquet, Dockery presented a “state of the university” address to trustees and key donors, thanking them for their investment in Union.
“You’ve been an instrument of God’s provision for us,” Dockery said. “Because of your investment and generosity, you have made a difference in Union University.”
The budget trustees approved April 13 is a $3 million increase over the previous budget. The strategic plan they adopted, “Illuminating Minds: Union 2015,” highlights seven priorities, including a continued commitment to Union’s mission and core values, strengthening and expanding academic and co-curricular programs, expanding and renovating its physical plant and developing a vision for regional, national and global engagement.
Trustees elected new officers, with Norm Hill selected as chairman, Paul Priddy as vice chairman and James Ross as secretary.