Dockery was originally scheduled to give a final report to trustees during their Dec. 6 meeting. That meeting, however, was canceled due to inclement weather. So instead, Dockery used a reception held in his honor in the Carl Grant Events Center to recap his 18 years as Union president, thank those who have encouraged and supported him and announce his parting gifts to the university.
“We are so thankful, from the bottom of our hearts, that you have given us the privilege to be a part of this incredible institution for 18 years,” Dockery said. “We are overwhelmed when we stop and reflect upon what has happened during these years.”
In January, Dockery announced his intentions to step down from the presidency and assume the position of chancellor no later than July 2014. He said Thursday that he had decided the chancellor’s position would be only an honorary role.
Though he will still technically be the university president until June, Dockery said his final months in that position will most likely be spent preparing to transition to new opportunities. The search committee expects to name a new president early in 2014, and Dockery said he wants to give that person the freedom to begin crafting a new administration.
In the days ahead, he plans to provide ongoing consultation with a Christian publisher while participating more with the Manhattan Declaration project, a movement of Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical Christians for life, marriage and religious liberty. He will also continue his role as adviser and mentor for some young college and seminary presidents. In addition, Dockery expects to make another announcement in the near future about his upcoming plans.
Prior to Dockery’s final address at the reception, the university showed a video honoring him for his contributions to Union, with comments from such people as Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Carl Zylstra, former president of Dordt College; Randy Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention; and several Union faculty, staff and alumni.
In his remarks, Dockery cited several accomplishments during his administration, including the establishment of Union’s mission statement, core values and confession of faith, development of the physical campus, enrollment increases, growth of faculty scholarship, national recognitions and many others.
“The future of Union, from where I sit, looks very bright,” he said. “Union’s in as strong of a position as it has ever been in its history in every institutional category. It’s poised for a great future and positive impact on the church and society in the days ahead with the right leader.”
He and First Lady Lanese Dockery presented four gifts to the university.
Dockery thanked several groups and individuals for the roles they played in his administration, which approximates the tenures of George Savage, Warren Jones and Robert Craig as the longest in Union’s history.
“To all of you who have given us this amazing opportunity, we are grateful beyond explanation,” he said. “The only words we can say are ‘Thanks be to God.’”
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