Union College will honor this year’s graduating class with two events in May: a Baccalaureate service on May 9, and its annual Commencement ceremony on May 10.
The May 9 Baccalaureate will take place at 7 p.m. in the Conway Boatman Chapel. This spiritual service is held to pay homage to the graduating class. Rev. Timothy Kobler is the featured speaker.
This year’s Commencement ceremony and awarding of degrees will take place on Saturday, May 10, at 10:30 a.m. in Robsion Arena. This year’s keynote speaker is Edna E. Jenkins Mann, a Barbourville native for whom Union’s nursing school has been named. Two honorary degrees will also be awarded during the event. Mann will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Bob Mitchell, retired district director for Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers, will receive the Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Both the Baccalaureate service and Commencement ceremony are free and open to the public. For more information, call 606-546-4151.
About Rev. Timothy Kobler:
Rev. Kobler has served as the Director of the Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist campus ministry at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, since 2008. He was also the Chaplain at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia from 2002-2008. A native of Marion, Illinois, Rev. Kobler graduated in 1988 from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a degree in Music Education. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1991. He has served in full-time ministry in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church for 22 years.
About Edna E. Jenkins Mann:
Mann grew up in Barbourville, graduating from Barbourville High, and attending Union for two years. Her mother worked in the library at Union. After one of the largest floods in Knox County history ruined her family’s home, they moved to Dayton, Ohio. Mann worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and attended the University of Dayton, where she met her husband, Gerry Mann. The couple moved to Indianapolis so he could pursue a master’s degree in engineering at Purdue University, and they’ve lived there since then, becoming deeply involved their community.
The Manns formed ATEC Associates in 1956, growing it to 1,500 employees. They sold it in 1996, but still own Mann Properties, which works in developing properties for businesses in Indiana and North Carolina. They have three adult children who live in Indiana, including their son, Brian, who serves as managing partner of Mann Properties.
The Manns have given back to the educational institutions that nurtured their careers. They’ve given generously to Purdue University and have become champions for Union. Edna Mann has served on the Board of Trustees for the college since 2006, taking a deep and vested interest in how the campus can better serve the community. When she visits the college for board meetings, she often meets with members of the community to discuss how Union can serve Appalachia better. One problem she discovered was that the community needed more nurses. She committed wholeheartedly to both donating and raising funds to add a nursing school to the college. Her dream came to fruition in December 2012, when the first graduates emerged from the Edna Jenkins Mann School of Nursing. Thanks to her dedication, Union is now able to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing.
About Bob Mitchell:
Bob Mitchell served as the district director for Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers for 33 years, retiring in 2012. For much of his time on Rogers’ staff, he was his top political adviser, campaign manager and also served as a field representative. He has served on the executive committee of the Republican Party of Kentucky, served as a delegate to Republican National Conventions, and was twice elected magistrate in Knox County.
Mitchell assisted with the development of key organizations in Eastern Kentucky, including P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment), UNITE (anti-drug agency) and SKED (Southeastern Kentucky Economic Development). Flood walls along the Cumberland River and road improvements throughout the region were accomplished thanks largely to Mitchell’s work. He also assisted with helping get the infrastructure needed for the installation of water lines to areas once dependent upon wells, sewer projects, and the construction of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel.
Mitchell has a family legacy of service. His father, the late Murrell Mitchell, also served as a magistrate of Knox County and was a member of the Knox County School Board. He inspired Mitchell to seek fulfillment in public service. A graduate of Lynn Camp High School in Corbin, Ky., Mitchell first served his country in the uniform of the U.S. Army. He was in the Army's military police and served in Vietnam.
Mitchell also worked for L&N Railroad, United Parcel Service, and as the owner and operator of a grocery store. He has been a member of the Corbin Rotary Club and the Lynn Camp Optimist Club. The Mountain Laurel Boy Scouts of America District honored Mitchell with its first-ever Daniel Boone Visionary Award. He most recently earned the William Hacker M.D. Leader of the Year award by Leadership Tri-County in Corbin.