Spring graduates from Union University received a special message on what was supposed to be their graduation day – a personalized video greeting from Union President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver.
Oliver recorded videos, typically between one and two minutes in length, for each of Union’s 595 graduates. The videos were sent to each student by email and text message May 16, the day Union’s spring commencement ceremonies were originally scheduled. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, commencement has been rescheduled for June 20.
Each video included Oliver signing the student’s diploma along with a personal word of congratulations and message of encouragement.
“I wanted to do this as a way to encourage the class of 2020 who has had to miss so much and to pray for and bless each of them individually,” Oliver said. “Union is a place that takes seriously our core values of being excellence-driven, Christ-centered, people-focused and future-directed.
“It seemed to me that this project, which many people helped with, is one that demonstrates those core values in a very tangible way.”
Oliver estimated that he spent about 50 hours on the videos over the past couple of weeks.
Brooke Watson, who graduated with a degree in sport management, said she was stunned to receive the message on Saturday.
“When I heard Dr. Dub say my name, I was in complete shock because I thought it was going to be a generic video that went out to every student saying the same thing,” Watson said. “I ran outside to find my parents so they could watch it with me, and they both teared up hearing Dr. Dub talk about how valuable I was to Union. I will be forever thankful to Dr. Dub for taking time to recognize me for my time at Union.”
Other responses from graduates indicated that Oliver’s efforts were meaningful and appreciated.
“Wow, I have no words to describe the joy this brought me today,” one student wrote to Oliver. “This is what makes Union such a special place. Thank you for taking such a caring and personable approach to present this to us.”