FOLLOWING MORE THAN EIGHTEEN YEARS of presidential leadership at Union University, David S. Dockery was unanimously selected by Trinity International University’s Board of Regents to become its 15th president in February 2014.
Under Dockery’s leadership to date, Trinity has embraced the goals and initiatives called for in the strategic plan—“Heritage & Hope: Trinity 2023,” which was enthusiastically and unanimously approved by the Trinity Board of Regents in February of 2015. Other steps forward include the establishment of Trinity Central (one-stop/first-stop service center for the Deerfield campus), the development and dedication of the Norton Welcome Center, the Woodbridge Reading Room, and the renovation of the Van Dixhorn Arena. A new leadership team has been assembled to guide the University in the coming days. Significant seven-figure grants have been received and new academic programs have been initiated. Intercultural and international programs have been expanded. Following years of enrollment decline, Trinity experienced fall headcount increases in both 2015 and 2016. Trinity has received four seven-figure gifts, while establishing both the Center for Transformational Churches and the Center for Global Theology and World Christianity.
During his time at Union, the fall enrollment grew from 1,972 to 4,288 and the non-duplicating annual enrollment increased from 2,183 to 5,301. The number of annual graduates increased from less than 400 each year to more than 1,100 on an annual basis. ACT averages, student retention, and graduation rates all significantly increased. The annual budget expanded from 18 million to 90 million, while the net assets more than tripled from $36 million to more than $125 million. More important than these numbers, the University strengthened its commitment to its mission and core values, while enhancing teaching and scholarship, grounded in the Christian intellectual tradition. All of these things took place through a commitment to qualitative improvements carried out by the careful implementation of five strategic plans, including a comprehensive campus master plan that resulted in the transformation of the campus buildings, facilities, and technology.
Union University experienced 16 straight years of enrollment increases from the fall of 1998 to the fall of 2013, while being named as a Top Tier institution by U. S. News and World Report from 1997 to 2013. USNWR also named Union as one of the “Up and Coming Universities” in the country. Union was also recognized by Colleges of Distinction, the Princeton Review, and First Things, among others. For seven consecutive years, Union was included on the President’s Honor Roll for Community Service. The Chronicle of Higher Education named Union one of the “Best Colleges to Work For” (one of 30 four-year institutions in the country), while the Council for the Advancement of Education and Support of Education (CASE) recognized Union with its Top Performance Award for development and advancement efforts (one of thirty-five universities in the country to receive this award). Union was also listed as one of ten church-related institutions in the country with a focus on “putting students first.” In addition, Kiplingers named Union of The Top 100 Private Universities in the country.
Prior to coming to Trinity and to Union, Dockery served as the Chief Academic Officer at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also served as Professor of Theology and New Testament. He holds the PhD from the University of Texas System, master’s degrees from Texas Christian University, Southwestern Seminary, and Grace Seminary, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He has done additional study at Drew University. Dockery was awarded the honorary Doctor of Letters by Union University and granted the honorary title of President Emeritus. In 2014, Dockery was honored with a book of essays in his honor: Convictional Civility: Engaging the Culture in the 21st Century.
Dockery is recognized as a leader in Christian higher education across the country, having spoken at more than sixty colleges, universities, and seminaries, as well as providing numerous institutional consultations. He served on the Board of Directors for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, serving as Board Chair in 2005 and 2006. Dockery also served as Chair for the Consortium for Global Education in 2007, while also serving on the Board of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities. He currently serves as chair of the Christian College Consortium and President– elect of the Evangelical Theological Society. His leadership efforts have placed him in demand as a mentor for other leaders in the field of Christian higher education. Dockery’s leadership was the subject of a recent doctoral dissertation by Tanner Hickman at Southeastern Seminary.
Dockery has also served on the Board for Christianity Today International (where he has also served as a Consulting Editor for more than 20 years), as well as the Board for Prison Fellowship Ministries, where he chaired the theology committee. Dockery’s experience has also included Board positions at The King’s College, the Manhattan Declaration (chair), and Touchstone/St. James Fellowship. He was named a Founding Fellow for the Research Institute at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and as Fellow of the Center for Baptist Renewal. He has served on numerous advisory councils at the local and national level.
Dockery has been a plenary speaker at the Wheaton Theology Conference, as well as at conferences at Baylor University, Samford University, Liberty University, and dozens of other institutions. He has been invited to deliver the McCall Lectures at Southern Seminary, the Page Lectures at Southeastern Seminary, the Day-Higginbotham Lectures at Southwestern Seminary (twice), the Dimension Lectures at Gardner-Webb University, the Spell Lectures at Mississippi College, the Hobbs Lectures at Oklahoma Baptist University (twice), the Caskey Lectures at Louisiana College, the Christ and Culture Lectures at California Baptist University, the Contemporary Issues Lectures and the Torrey Lectures at Biola University, the Trustee Lectures at Azusa Pacific University and at Oklahoma Christian University, the Strauss Lectures at Lincoln Christian University, the Whiteside Preaching Series at Erskine College and Seminary, the Faith and Thought Lectures at Northwestern College, the Lens Lectures at Charleston Southern University, and the Pinson Lectures at Houston Baptist University, among many others.
In addition he has given the Convocation Address at Midwestern Seminary, Beeson Divinity School, Dordt College, and has served as the commencement speaker at Dallas Theological Seminary, Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, Lee University, Uganda Christian University, Criswell College, the Canadian Baptist Seminary, and a variety of other institutions. He has delivered the Hester Lectures for the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, the theology lectures at the Melbourne School of Theology, as well as the keynote address at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society, University Educators for Global Engagement, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the Consortium for Global Education. He has spoken at the White House Christian Fellowship, the C. S. Lewis Conference at Oxford University, and a variety of international settings. Dockery has been invited to serve as a visiting professor at a number of institutions.
The author or editor more than 30 books, including Renewing Minds, Faith and Learning; Theology, Church, and Ministry; Theologians of the Baptist Tradition; New Testament Interpretation and Criticism; Biblical Interpretation Then and Now, Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal, Great Tradition of Christian Thinking; Christian Leadership Essentials; Christian Scripture, and the Holman Bible Handbook, Dockery has also contributed to more than 60 other volumes, including some of the most significant reference works of the past two decades. He also published more than 100 articles and reviews for a variety of periodicals such as Christianity Today, Touchstone, Books and Culture, and many others. He currently serves as the New Testament editor for the New American Commentary series, as general editor for Crossway’s series on Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition, and as general editor for the forthcoming Holman Worldview Study Bible.
Dockery has been recognized for his involvement in the community, having been named the Man of the Year in 2008 for Jackson, Tenn. He received the William D. Smart Racial Reconciliation Award from the West Tennessee NAACP, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the West Tennessee Red Cross, and the Cottrell Award for Educational Excellence. He is also a Paul Harris Fellow with the Rotary Club.
Southwestern Seminary granted him their Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2002, while Oklahoma Baptist University named Dockery as the recipient of their highly prized Herschel H. Hobbs Distinguished Denominational Service Award. LifeWay Christian Resources recognized Dockery with their highest service award, the Holman Christian Standard Award, while the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission along with Midwestern Baptist Seminary bestowed their Distinguished Service Awards on Dockery. He received the Distinguished Evangelical Scholarship Award from Southeastern Seminary. In addition to service in several churches, Dockery has served on the Great Commission Resurgence Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Name Change Study Committee of the SBC, and as Chair of the Calvinism Advisory Committee for the SBC. He has spoken at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, and at numerous other denominational gatherings.
Dockery has been interviewed or quoted in a variety of media outlets including: NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Louisville Courier-Journal, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chronicle of Higher Education, Baptist Press, The Tennessean, New Orleans Times-Picayune, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Washington Times, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, World, Christianity Today, Associated Baptist Press, the Birmingham News, as well as several others.
Dockery and his wife, Lanese, have been married for 42 years. They have three married sons: Jon (and Sarah), Ben (and Julie), and Tim (and Andrea), as well as 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, and the Middle East.