JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Union University students displaced by the Feb. 5 tornado that ravaged the campus will return to class Feb. 20, officials at the Jackson, Tenn., campus announced Feb. 12.
President David S. Dockery said all faculty and staff offices will open Feb. 18, with students returning to their housing Feb. 19 and beginning classes the next day.
“It is absolutely amazing to think that we will be able to start classes within two weeks of this devastating story,” Dockery said. “We are so excited about seeing our students return to class. I can’t say enough about our faculty and staff and the amazing work they have done to enable us to be ready to move forward with the spring semester schedule.”
More than 1,100 residential students left campus after the EF-4 tornado destroyed much of Union’s student housing. Two of the housing complexes -– Hurt and Watters -– were hit the hardest and will be demolished.
To accommodate student housing needs, Union will house 300 students in The Jett, formerly the Old English Inn. Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, which owns the facility, has turned operation over to Union for student housing through December.
About 350 students will remain on campus, in dormitories not heavily damaged by the tornado. About 300 students have secured their own off-campus housing, and the remaining 250 students will stay with Union faculty and staff members for the remainder of the semester.
The university will hold a campus-wide worship service in the G.M. Savage Chapel at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19, followed by a welcome back party at The Jett at 8:30 p.m.
The first major student event after classes start will be the Feb. 21 basketball games at Union against rival Freed-Hardeman University. The women’s game will begin at 6 p.m., with the men’s game to follow at 8 p.m.
Tim Ellsworth is Union University’s director of news and media relations. Media representatives planning to cover activities on Union’s campus next week are asked to obtain credentials from the university. To do so, send a fax on official letterhead to Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations, at 731-661-5177. Media outlets should include with their requests the number of credentials being requested. Media arriving on campus should enter via the Walker Road entrance, where they may pick up their credentials at the Union University Welcome House. Media will have access to the Tuesday evening worship service and to three specific classes on Feb. 20, as well as to select locations in student housing as students return. Union’s media relations office will seek to have students available for interviews and will try to connect regional and local media with students from their particular coverage areas. To request an interview with a Union student, call 731-661-5216.