Renowned theologian and Christian higher education leader David S. Dockery has been appointed to the faculty of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as professor of theology, President Adam W. Greenway announced Aug. 27 during the seminary’s fall convocation. Dockery, who most recently served as president and chancellor of Trinity International University/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, will also serve as the inaugural theologian-in-residence for the B.H. Carroll Center for Baptist Heritage and Mission as well as special consultant to the president.

I could not be more excited to welcome David Dockery home to Southwestern Seminary. His decades of service as professor, academic administrator, institutional president, writing theologian, and Baptist statesman have given him a breadth and depth of experience few individuals can match,” Greenway says. “The opportunity to have Dr. Dockery not only in the classroom but as theologian-in-residence at the B.H. Carroll Center solidifies our commitment to articulating and advocating a robust vision for Baptist identity in the 21st century. On a personal note, having Dr. Dockery serve as special consultant to the president allows me the privilege of drawing from his vast and varied experience in Christian higher education as I seek to lead Southwestern Seminary to be all that God would have us to be.”

A native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Dockery has had a distinguished career as a theologian and educator. He holds degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (B.S.), Grace Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Texas Christian University (M.A.), and the University of Texas at Arlington (Ph.D.). Dockery was named a distinguished alumnus by Southwestern Seminary in 2002.

Dockery is delighted to return to the school where he earned his Master of Divinity degree. “My years as a student at Southwestern Seminary were formative for me in so many ways,” he says. “What a blessing it was to have had the privilege to get to know and to learn from professors like James Leo Garrett, Curtis Vaughan, Tommy Lea, Russ Bush, Robert Sloan, Roy Fish, Tom Nettles, Cal Guy, Bill Tolar, and others. During that time, I came to admire and appreciate the best of the Southwestern tradition and to better understand our Baptist and evangelical heritage.”

“What a joyful privilege it will be to serve as the first theologian-in-residence for the new B.H. Carroll Center,” Dockery continues, “which will provide opportunities to help this generation of students learn to appreciate the best of the Southwestern tradition and to be prepared to serve more faithfully in our 21st-century context with a greater understanding of what it means to be a Baptist-evangelical and an evangelical-Baptist.

“I am deeply thankful to Dr. Adam Greenway for his invitation to serve my alma mater in this way. I join with many alums and friends of the seminary who are ever hopeful regarding Southwestern’s future.” 

In the early 1990s, Dockery served as vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he also held a tenured faculty position in theology and New Testament. In this role, he was instrumental in the theological recovery of Southern Seminary. He has served as visiting professor at Beeson Divinity School and Grace Seminary, affiliate professor of theology at Gateway Seminary, and distinguished professor of Baptist studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 1995, Dockery was elected president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Under his transformational leadership, enrollment more than doubled, net assets more than tripled, and Union sprang to a place of national leadership in Christian higher education.

In 2014, he was installed as Trinity’s 15th president and served in that role for five years, then transitioned to the role of chancellor. At Trinity, he brought guidance to an institution that had previously experienced more than a decade of significant enrollment decline and an array of institutional challenges. He led processes to strengthen the Trinity board and enhance denominational relationships. New academic programs were introduced, and four new academic centers were established. 

“Many of us who are presidents of Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries have long considered Dr. David Dockery—in so many ways—to be among those handful of presidents who raise the bar on scholarship, discipleship, biblical stewardship, statesmanship, and even friendship,” says Barry H. Corey, president of Biola University in La Mirada, Calif. “In my conversations with Dr. Dockery—seeking counsel and processing ideas about Christian leadership and higher education—he has invariably rooted me in the Gospel as I sought direction, and for this I will long be grateful. I am not alone.”

Corey says that Dockery is “a solid Baptist thinker, a winsome presence, a gifted theologian, and is able to engage many in the broader evangelical community with abiding respect.” Corey continues, “In the rarified air of leaders in this generation who are academically astute, pastoral in heart, and faithful in mentoring, I would place Dr. Dockery in that space.”

“David Dockery brings to this new role at Southwestern a lifetime of service in both the academy and the church,” says Timothy George, research professor at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and co-author—with Dockery—of The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking: A Student’s Guide. “He is one of our finest ecclesial theologians—irenic, confessional, and wise. He understands both the Baptist and wider evangelical worlds and has worked creatively to bring them closer together.

“A prolific author and editor, his writings—always marked by clarity and insight—have blessed the people of God everywhere. Congratulations to Southwestern and Dr. Dockery!”

Dockery is a sought-after speaker and lecturer, a consulting editor for Christianity Today, and has authored, edited, or contributed to nearly 100 books, including Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal and Theologians of the Baptist Tradition. As an author, he is best known for his works in the area of Baptist studies, biblical interpretation, and Christian higher education. He served as the New Testament editor for the 40-volume New American Commentary Series, as general editor of the 15-volume Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition Series, and is co-editor of the forthcoming multi-volume Theology for the People of God series. 

Dockery has received numerous awards, including the Holman Christian Standard Service Award from LifeWay Christian Resources, the Land Distinguished Service Award from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the John R. Dellenback Global Leadership Award from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He served as chair of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities as well as the Consortium for Global Education. More recently, he served as chair of the Christian College Consortium, and he is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society. 

“David Dockery is one of the premier Southern Baptist scholars of this century. His comprehensive understanding of Baptist life, the academy, and broader evangelicalism is unparalleled. In this new role, he will be a central part of our efforts to increase our academic excellence,” says Southwestern Seminary Provost Randy L. Stinson.

Dockery has spoken on more than 70 campuses. He served churches in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Dallas as well as serving as interim pastor for several congregations in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.

He has been married to Lanese for more than 40 years, and they have three married sons 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.