Union University just issued a press release indicating that long-time president David S. Dockery will transition to a chancellorship in 2013 or 2014. Here’s a bit:
“I am hopeful and prayerful for a good, smooth, joyful and positive transition,” Dockery said. “God has blessed the work of our hands and manifested his favor to this university time and time again during these past 17 years. I am confident that we will continue to see God’s grace made known to Union in the future.
I thought these comments from Dean Gregory Thornbury were unquestionably on the mark. What made Dockery such a strong and effective president was firstly his intellectual and theological acumen:
“By any measure, David Dockery’s presidency at Union University has been the most laudable illustration of leadership success in Christian higher education,” said Greg Thornbury, dean of Union’s School of Theology and Missions. “Many will rightly praise him for Union’s phenomenal enrollment growth, outstanding academic markers and advances in local, regional and national stature.
“But all of this would not be nearly as important had it not been for his vigilant sense for and keen articulation of the university’s distinctive mission,” Thornbury continued. “In my opinion, these characteristics flowed from him being who God gifted him first and foremost to be: a theologian of the first order. By connecting a vision for Union with the great Christian intellectual tradition, he connected the institution he served so ably with something worthy, something noble, something permanent.
Many young Baptists and evangelicals are thankful for Dr. Dockery’s work and legacy. I’ve seen Dockery take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to treat a few young guys to lunch and then spend the time listening to them and encouraging them. That made a mark on me. This is a man who is gracious, wise, and courageous–worthy of emulation.
I blogged here a couple weeks ago about the relative strength of the evangelical mind. Dockery is a key piece in the counter-narrative to the idea that evangelicals can’t and don’t think. What God has enabled him to build at Union is remarkable: confessional scholarship that is rigorous and life-giving. He could do so because he had trained his own mind to think to the glory of God. Smart decision-making is not opposed to wise thinking; ideally, the latter strengthens and drives the former.
Let’s hope for other leaders to pick up this mantle.