David S. Dockery was unanimously elected on February 28, 2014 as the 15th president of Trinity International University and is now serving in his 24th year as a university president. Highly regarded as one of the outstanding leaders and senior statesmen in the world of Christian higher education, Dockery served as president of Union University for nearly two decades where during his transformational presidency the enrollment more than doubled, the net assets of the institution more than tripled, the campus was transformed, and Union vaulted to a place of national leadership in Christian higher education. Much of this took place in response to the strategic implementation of four distinctive and far-reaching strategic plans, which included the development and renovation of the campus while surpassing the goal of a $100 million comprehensive campaign.
Dockery also helped guide Union’s response and recovery in 2008 to one of the largest natural disasters ever to hit an American university campus. Following his years of service at Union as president and University Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition, Dockery was named president emeritus. Since coming to Trinity, he has brought guidance to an institution that had previously experienced more than a decade of serious enrollment decline along with a number of institutional challenges throughout the 21st century.
In addition, Dockery has led processes to strengthen the Trinity Board, enhance denominational relationships, upgrade the look of the campus, and reshape the University Leadership Team. He has brought a renewed focus to the best of Trinity’s heritage while seeking to give a sense of realistic hope and hopeful realism to the Trinity community for the days ahead. New academic programs have been introduced and four new academic centers have been established. These themes are amplified in the University-wide comprehensive plan, “Heritage and Hope: Trinity 2023,” which was unanimously and enthusiastically adopted by the Trinity Board of Regents in February of 2015. The Plan has provided a shared commitment and common direction for the Trinity community.
Christian Higher Education Organizations
Dockery has served as the chair of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities as well as for the Consortium for Global Education. More recently, he has also served as chair of the Christian College Consortium. In addition, Dockery is the past president of the Evangelical Theological Society.
Prior to this service at Union and Trinity, Dockery served as the chief academic officer at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also held a tenured faculty position in theology and New Testament. Dockery has also been named a Visiting Professor at Beeson Divinity School and Grace Seminary, an Affiliate Professor of Theology at Golden Gate/Gateway Seminary, and a Distinguished Professor of Baptist Studies at Midwestern Seminary. He has also been named an honorary faculty member in some international contexts.
Having authored or edited more than 30 volumes, and contributed to more than 60 other books, he is best known for his works in the area of Christian higher education, Baptist studies, and biblical interpretation. He is the author, co-author, co-editor, or editor of Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society through Christian Higher Education; The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking; Theology, Church, and Ministry: A Handbook for Theological Education; Christian Higher Education: Faith, Teaching, and Learning in the Evangelical Tradition; Faith and Learning: A Handbook for Christian Higher Education; Christian Leadership Essentials: A Handbook for Managing Christian Organizations; Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal; Theologians of the Baptist Tradition; Southern Baptist Identity; Baptist Theologians; Southern Baptists and American Evangelicals; Christian Scripture: An Evangelical Perspective on Inspiration, Authority, and Interpretation; Biblical Interpretation Then and Now; Interpreting the New Testament: Essays on Methods and Issues; and The Challenge of Postmodernism: An Evangelical Engagement, among other titles. He has authored two Winter Bible Study volumes and two Annual Doctrine Study books for the Southern Baptist Convention.
Dockery has contributed to a wide-range of major reference works as well as more popular publications like Christianity Today, Decision Magazine, Books & Culture, and Touchstone. Dockery has served as the New Testament editor for the 40-volume New American Commentary Series (B&H), as general editor of the 15-volume Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition Series (Crossway), and as co-editor of the forthcoming multi-volume Theology for the People of God series (B&H). He also is the general editor of the Holman Bible Handbook and Worldview Study Bible. In addition, he has authored more than 125 articles or chapters along with more than 100 reviews in various periodicals. Dockery also has served as editor, consulting editor, or member of the editorial board for such periodicals as Christianity Today, Review and Expositor, Christian Higher Education Journal, Criswell Theological Review, and Renewing Minds, among others.
Influence through Lectureships and Consultations
Dockery has spoken on more than 70 campuses across the country and around the world, including Baylor University, Wheaton College, Samford University, Torch Trinity University (S.Korea), Melbourne School of Theology (Australia), Uganda Christian University (Africa), Singapore Baptist Seminary, Qingdao University (China), Moscow Theological Institute (Russia), and many others. In addition, he has been asked to provide consultation for a number of other campuses. Dockery has also spoken at dozens of educational and denominational gatherings, including the plenary session of the Southern Baptist Convention and more than a dozen state conventions, in addition to dozens of associational gatherings and hundreds of congregations. He served churches in Brooklyn, New York, Birmingham, Alabama, and Dallas, Texas, as well as serving as interim pastor for several congregations in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. A sampling of the places Dockery has given the keynote or plenary address include: Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Consortium for Global Education; the Hester Lectures for the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities (twice); University Educators for Global Engagement; National Association of Christian Librarians; National Association of Professors of Christian Education (twice); Christian College Consortium; Evangelical Theological Society; American Academy of Ministry; Fellowship of Evangelical Seminary Presidents; Wheaton Theology Conference; Institute for the Study of Protestantism and American Culture; the Norton Lectures, McCall Lectures and Founders’ Day Lecture at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Torrey Lectures and Contemporary Issues Lectures at Biola University; Page Lectures at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Convocation Address at Beeson Divinity School, Dordt College, and Midwestern Baptist Seminary; Pinson Lectures at Houston Baptist University; Day-Higginbotham Lectures at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (twice); Hobbs Lectures at Oklahoma Baptist University (twice); Christ and Culture Lectures and the School of Ministry Lectures (twice) at California Baptist University; Dimension Lectures at Gardner-Webb University; Trustee Lectures at Azusa Pacific University and Oklahoma Christian University; Spell Lectures at Mississippi College; Caskey Lectures at Louisiana College; Henderson-Powell Distinguished Scholar Lectures at Mid-America Seminary; Falwell Library Scholar Lectures at Liberty University; Staley Lectures and Lens Lectures at Charleston Southern University; Whiteside Preaching Lectures at Erskine College and Seminary; Powell Lectures at Baptist College of Florida; Presidential Inaugural Address at Anderson University, Hannibal-LaGrange University, North Greenville University and Williams Baptist; Strauss Lectures at Lincoln Christian University; Faith and Thought Lectures at the University of Northwestern, Hamrick Lectures at the historic First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina; Commencement Address at Dallas Theological Seminary, Criswell College, Welch College, University of Mobile, Canadian Baptist Seminary, Golden Gate Seminary; among several others. He also has delivered major presentations at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, Cedarville University, Dallas Baptist University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Grace College, Blue Mountain College, White House Christian Fellowship, C. S. Lewis Oxbridge Summer Institute, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, to name a few
Board Service and Advisory Roles
In addition to his roles with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the Christian College Consortium, the Consortium for Global Education, and the Evangelical Theological Society, Dockery has served on the governing board at Christianity Today International, Prison Fellowship (where he held the Carl Henry Chair of Theology), King’s College, the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, and the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, along with service on numerous local boards, foundation and advisory boards, along with various committees and civic clubs. He was named a Paul Harris Fellow with the Rotary Club International. His involvement in Baptist life has been significant at every level, having served on key denominational committees and organizations, including his role as chair of the Calvinism Study Committee, the Intercultural Education Summit, and the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, in addition to a variety of other denominational service opportunities. He also served on the Theological Heritage Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and was named a Founding Fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission as well as the Center for Baptist Renewal.
Named an outstanding alumnus by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dockery was awarded the Hobbs Denominational Service Award by Oklahoma Baptist University, the Holman Christian Standard Service Award by LifeWay Christian Resources, the Distinguished Evangelical Scholarship Award by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Denominational Service Award by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Land Distinguished Service Award by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the John R. Dellenback Global Leadership Award by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
Dockery has been interviewed or quoted by a variety of media outlets including NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Baltimore Sun, The Tennessean, Memphis Courier-Journal, Washington Times, Louisville Courier-Journal, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, New Orleans Times-Picayune, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Birmingham News, Associated Press, Religion News Service, Chronicle of Higher Education, Baptist Press, Associated Baptist Press, Christianity Today, World Magazine, along with a number of radio networks.
Union University granted him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree; Union also established the David and Lanese Dockery Lectures in Baptist Thought and Heritage. Dockery was named Man of the Year in Jackson, Tennessee; he was also the recipient of significant recognitions from the West Tennessee community, including the West Tennessee Red Cross, among others. Recognized as an advocate for racial reconciliation in his roles at Southern Seminary, Union University, and at Trinity, Dockery was named the recipient of the William D. Smart Award for Racial Reconciliation by the West Tennessee NAACP.
Investment in Leaders
Dockery has invested significant effort in the work of leadership development and mentoring opportunities. Numerous Christian college presidents and administrators point to Dockery as one of their key mentors (please see the article Proteges Who Become Presidents in the Fall 2016 issue of the Trinity Magazine, p. 24).
Dockery’s approach to leadership has been the subject of a number of articles and presentations as well as a doctoral dissertation at Southeastern Seminary by Tanner Hickman. A number of colleagues presented Dockery with a book of essays in his honor in 2014 with the title, Convictional Civility: Engaging the Culture in the 21st Century. He was one of 100 Baptist theologians profiled in the massive study written by James Leo Garrett Jr., Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study.
A native of Alabama, Dockery holds degrees from the University of Alabama-Birmingham (B.S), Grace Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Texas Christian University (M.A.), and the University of Texas system (Ph.D.), as well as additional studies at Drew University. He has been married to Lanese for 43 years. They have three married sons (Jon and Sarah, Ben and Julie, Tim and Andrea) and eight grandchildren. Their travels have taken them to the various regions of the United States and Canada, as well as to Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East.