FORT WORTH, Texas — Former Union University president David S. Dockery was elected 10th president and Southern Baptist leader O.S. Hawkins was elected to the new role of chancellor during the spring meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees on April 19.
The unanimous elections of Dockery and Hawkins to their new roles come nearly seven months after their elections as interim president and senior advisor and ambassador-at-large, respectively, in a special-called trustee meeting, Sept. 27, 2022, following the resignation of Adam W. Greenway. Hawkins is a former Texas Baptist pastor and retired president of GuideStone Financial Resources.
“Dr. David Dockery is God’s man for Southwestern Seminary in this hour,” chairman Danny Roberts told trustees. “Our seminary’s at a critical juncture in this 115-year history, and in God’s providence, He has already provided the man to lead our seminary during this time.”
Roberts said trustees did not need to “look further for our next president” based on Dockery’s “impressive performance as interim (president) providing stability and healing, his long track record of outstanding Christian leadership in higher education, with the current needs of the institution.”
Dockery said he was “deeply humbled and genuinely grateful for the privilege and responsibility to serve” as Southwestern’s 10th president.
“I am truly thankful for the overwhelming support from the board of trustees as well as for the faithful encouragement and prayerful support from the faculty, staff, colleagues, and students. What an honor it will be to continue to serve side-by-side with O.S. Hawkins, a dear friend and person that I greatly admire and from whom I have learned much in recent months.”
In 1995, Dockery was elected president of Union University in Jackson. 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 September 2022, he was among the first honorees to be inducted into the university’s hall of honor.
Dockery left Union in 2014 to become the 15th president of Trinity International University in Chicago, where he served for five years.
An alumnus of Southwestern, Dockery was named distinguished professor of theology and theologian-in-residence for the B.H. Carroll Center for Baptist Heritage and Mission in 2019. He also served as special consultant to the president. Later, he was named editor of the Southwestern Journal of Theology, the seminary’s historic academic journal. From Dec. 2020 to Feb. 2022, he also served as interim provost at Southwestern. Additionally, he serves as the inaugural director of the Dockery Center for Global Evangelical Theology, which was named in his honor by the board of trustees at their spring 2022 meeting.
Current Union University president Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver observed that Dockery “has spent his life investing in institutions that advance Christ-centered education.
“As a Southwesterner himself, his considerable gifts and talents will continue to be deployed to an institution and mission that mean a great deal to him and all Southern Baptists. All of us at Union pray for him as he presses on in this important calling,” Oliver said in a statement to the Baptist and Reflector.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said that Dockery “has everything needed ‘for such a time as this’ in leadership at Southwestern and also for the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole.
“Dr. Dockery, an adopted son of Tennessee, has an excellent leadership skill set, character above reproach, a proven track record and incredible relational ability,” Davis continued.
“His acceptance of the presidency of Southwestern is good news that Southern Baptists can rejoice about.” B&R — B&R editor Lonnie Wilkey contributed to this report.