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Doctoral dissertation examines Dockery’s leadership

Doctoral student Tanner Hickman (left) visits with Union University President David S. Dockery. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Doctoral student Tanner Hickman (left) visits with Union University President David S. Dockery. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

JACKSON, Tenn.Aug. 16, 2010 – Godly leadership is visional, relational and influential, and all three of those characteristics are present in Union University President David S. Dockery, according to doctoral student Tanner Hickman.

Hickman, a Doctor of Education student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, examined Dockery’s leadership for his dissertation, entitled “The Integration of Jesus’ Great Commandment Within Christian Higher Education: An Analysis of the Leadership Praxis of Dr. David S. Dockery.”

Hickman, a Memphis native and 1988 Union graduate, recently visited Dockery and presented him with the finished project. Hickman said it was unusual for a sitting college or seminary president to allow his or her leadership to be studied, and he was grateful to Dockery for the cooperation.

“Dockery’s leadership has been instrumental in shaping and defining the meaning of Christian education during his fourteen-year tenure as president of Union University,” Hickman writes in the dissertation’s abstract. “During his term as president of Union University, Dockery has overseen tremendous institutional growth in the expansion of campus facilities, financial resources, and record student enrollment. In a broader capacity, Dockery’s influence has been reflected throughout the Southern Baptist Convention and the evangelical community.”

Hickman conducted his research through documentation (using such resources as the Unionite, the university’s annual reports and the university’s annual reports to trustees), surveys, interviews and analysis. He cited five practices of exemplary leadership given by James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book, “The Leadership Challenge”: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart.

Those practices formed the grid through which Hickman examined Dockery’s leadership philosophy and methodology.

Dockery thanked Hickman for the careful analysis and study of the work at Union University, saying, “I am truly grateful for the thorough evaluation and analysis of the work of Union University that Dr. Hickman has done. These findings should strengthen our work in days ahead. “While I am most grateful for Dr. Hickman’s research, the work that has happened at Union over the past 14 years has been a team effort by many, many gifted leaders across the campus of this university.”


Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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