In the most recent issue of Trinity Magazine, David S. Dockery, TIU’s 15th president-elect, answered a few questions for us, providing a brief look at his thoughts on his election as well as a further introduction to the man and what’s he’s passionate about.
Trinity Magazine: What excites you most about this opportunity?
David S. Dockery: First let me express a genuine sense of honor and humility at the opportunity that the Board of Regents has extended to us to serve as the next president of Trinity International University. Lanese and I are overwhelmingly grateful. We will count it a great privilege to serve the students, staff, faculty, and Trinity’s various institutional constituencies in the days to come.
To answer the question, it will be a joy of immense proportion to seek to reflect the influence and leadership of such twentieth-century evangelical giants like Kenneth Kantzer and Carl F. H. Henry, who invested so much at Trinity. Their emphasis on serious and rigorous academics shaped and informed by the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the full truthfulness of Holy Scripture, international missions, cultural renewal and engagement, transdenominational and transcontinental evangelical cooperation, and service to the global church will, we trust, continue to characterize all aspects of Trinity’s life and work.
TM: Beyond your professional life, what are you passionate about?
DSD: Our family is a high priority in our lives. We are blessed with three great sons and three wonderful daughters-in-law. Our six grandchildren, who range in age from three months to five years old, are a special gift from God. To be closer to two of those grandchildren, who live in the Chicago area, is a joyful thing to consider.
I enjoy reading, time with friends, and sports. I have to confess that I am a loyal fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide. We will look forward to the possibility of seeing the Cubs play at Wrigley Field, and I am sure that we will quickly begin to follow Chicagoland teams.
TM: What is one personal challenge you carry with you into this role?
DSD:I recognize that in a certain sense we come to Trinity as outsiders. I have much to learn and want to invite everyone across the Trinity community to join us as we connect the best of Trinity’s wonderful heritage to shape, with God’s help, a preferred future for Trinity. We do not have a Free Church background, we are not Midwesterners, and I am not a Trinity grad. We have never traveled to Scandinavia. So, we ask for your help and support.
Nevertheless, while we are outsiders, I have been taught, informed, and shaped by Trinity for many years. Since my time of involvement with Campus Crusade for Christ on the campus of the University of Alabama, I have been reading works from Trinity faculty. The list of those who have had a powerful influence on my thinking could go on and on. I come to this role, then, not only as an outsider, but also as a student, and I trust that I will continue to learn from the outstanding faculty and staff who serve in this place.
TM: What are you reading right now?
DSD: The list currently includes . . .
- Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Bryan Loritts (Moody, 2014);
- Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, by Steven Garber (IVP, 2014);
- The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief, by George M. Marsden (Basic, 2014);
- Higher Education in America, by Derek Bok (Princeton, 2013);
- Communities of Faith in Africa and the African Diaspora: In Honor of Tite Tienou with Additional Essays on World Christianity, edited by Casely B. Essamuah and David K. Ngaruiya (Wipf and Stock, 2014).
I have also recently finished the outstanding new books by Bradley Gundlach, Constantine Campbell, John Woodbridge (with Frank James), John Feinberg, and Doug Sweeney (with Richard Mouw). What a joy at this time to be able to refer to these brilliant scholars as colleagues. I am in the process of trying to read a variety of additional works by Trinity faculty.
TM: Any final thoughts you want to leave with us before the long summer break?
DSD: We count it a great honor to come to a place that is so focused on the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, a place faithful to the gospel, a place “entrusted with the gospel.” We will be privileged to serve with you in the high calling of “educating men and women for faithful participation in God’s redemptive work in the world, by cultivating academic excellence, Christian fidelity, and lifelong learning.”
We have much to learn, but we promise, with God’s help, to work hard, to serve students, staff, and faculty in a faithful way, and to work constructively with the Board of Regents. We ask the Trinity family to pray for us and to join with us, to help and support this wonderful institution in the days to come as we seek to advance the gospel and to extend God’s kingdom through Christian higher education.
May God help us all as we work together to become faithful participants in God’s redemptive work in the world.
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