03 May


By Ryan Teller – Lincoln, Nebraska … Chaplain Rich Carlson will retire this summer after being an integral part of the Union College experience for 40 years.

Officially, he is Dr. Richard Carlson, vice president for spiritual life and associate professor of psychology and religion, but it is unlikely even he could tell you his full title without consulting Union’s personnel directory. To generations of Union students and alumni, he is simply “Pastor Rich.”

And above any title, he will tell you his job is mentorship. “I love interacting with the kids, journeying with the students,” he said. “It’s been a joy and an honor.”

A graduate of Union, now RMC assistant youth director, Jessyka Dooley has a hard time thinking about Union without Pastor Rich and what he brings to the atmosphere at the college. “It’s hard to think of Union College without Pastor Rich. The culture of student leadership and a family-like atmosphere has always come from the heart of campus ministries. Over his decades of service as chaplain, Rich has impacted and inspired so many people and I am eternally thankful to have been one of them.”

Former student Gina Creek calls him the best leadership mentor she’s ever encountered. Currently director of leadership development at AdventHealth, Creek said, “Before Pastor Rich, I always saw myself as another face in the crowd. He helped me hear the call of God on my heart.”

“The clock tower stands tall but Pastor Rich is a more prominent part of our campus life,” said Union president Vinita Sauder. “He shaped the Union experience for tens of thousands of students. He loves students, he empowers them to serve and he points them to Jesus every single day. He is a true man of God, and an outstanding servant leader.”

Jefferson Gibson, a theology senior and son of Chanelle Watson, RMC assistant director of planned giving and trust services, recalls the influence Pastor Rich has had in his life. “Working in the campus ministry is where I got to know Pastor Carlson. As a hesitant freshman three years ago, he always had a friendly smile on his face which was so inviting walking into the office.”

Gibson added, “Pastor Carlson loves God. The way he was (is) an ambassador for God encouraged me to grow more in my spiritual journey. I am also grateful for the way Pastor Carlson challenged me to not just think outside the box but to appreciate the journey of discovering what was outside the box.”

As one of the first student missionaries Union sent overseas in 1971, Pastor Rich has been instrumental in weaving service into the very fabric of Union College life. After his own experience, he told the Central Union Reaper, “A thousand years of school can never equal the experience of mission service.” As chaplain at Union, he has encouraged thousands of students to take their lessons from the classroom to communities next door and around the world changing many lives—including their own.

Pastor Rich also recognizes the need for service closer to home. Project Impact began as Project BRUSH the year before he became Union’s chaplain, and under his leadership, Union’s annual event has become the nation’s largest and oldest collegiate volunteer event. From available research, no campus has a bigger event by percentage and few have as many volunteers despite 10 to 20 times the enrollment. He then uses the event as a springboard to get students involved in serving the Lincoln community all year long.

He graduated from Union in 1973 with the intention of being a pastor. After teaching Bible at Maplewood and Dakota Adventist Academy, he returned to Union to pursue medicine. He envisioned himself working in an ER, but providence turned him toward the chaplain’s office. Does he have any regrets? “Not a one,” he said. “It’s the best thing that could have happened.”

Union alumni who were impacted by Pastor Rich’s ministry have honored his legacy by establishing a scholarship fund in his name. Donate to the fund at ucollege.edu/pastorrich

–Ryan Teller is public relations director for Union College, photo supplied

*Article adapted from https://ucollege.edu/20210429/pastor-rich-carlson-to-retire-after-nearly-40-years-at-union/

17 Dec

New Union College scholarship covers tuition costs for families making $60,000 or less

By Ryan Teller – Lincoln, Nebraska … Union College has launched the new Bridge to Union Scholarship—a plan that will cover the tuition costs for students from most families with an income of $60,000 or less.

“In these challenging economic times, every dollar matters,” said Dr. Vinita Sauder, president of Union College. “We want to bridge the tuition gap for any student and family who dreams of taking advantage of the life coach for every freshman, career preparation and spiritual community at Union College so they have that opportunity. The Bridge to Union Scholarship helps make our unparalleled personalized support available to many more students—regardless of financial circumstances.”

For first-time freshman students enrolling for the Fall 2021 semester, Union College will scholarship all tuition costs not covered by their federal and state financial aid package. To qualify, a student simply needs to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) showing that they are eligible for a Pell Grant and their family income for the FAFSA year is $60,000 or less.

The scholarship will be renewable for up to seven additional semesters as long as the student remains enrolled as a full-time student (12-17 credit hours) during that time, maintains a 2.0 GPA, is Pell-eligible and their family income stays at $60,000 or below.

“No motivated student should be denied a quality education,” said Sauder. “We are excited to remove more of the financial burden for students who want a Christian education as they seek to find God’s calling for their lives.”

The Bridge to Union program covers tuition only. Students can earn a majority of their room and board by working on campus throughout both semesters and contributing summer work earnings to their account. Outside scholarships may also be applied toward room and board.

Financial aid is available to all Union undergraduate students—regardless of income or eligibility for federal financial aid. For instance, every freshman admitted to Union already receives a four-year renewable scholarship of $4,000 up to full tuition (worth nearly $100,000 over four years) based on academic achievement, financial situation and other factors.

For more information about the Bridge to Union Scholarship, call 402.486.2504 or visit ucollege.edu/bridge-to-union

–Ryan Teller is Union College’s public relations director; photo supplied