The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for May 2014. In it I interview Dr. David S. Dockery, newly appointed president of Trinity International University:
What do you love about Trinity?
I love the mission of Trinity International University, which is to educate men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. I love the stellar faculty members at Trinity who are committed to that mission. I genuinely admire their scholarship and their commitment to teaching, even as I love their dedication to students and to the work of the church. I love the staff at Trinity, the people who shape community, serve the students, and carry out the high calling of what I often call the hidden curriculum. I love the support and guidance that comes from the members of the Board who give of themselves for the good of Trinity. I love the heart of the students at Trinity, both undergraduate and graduate students. I am looking forward to getting to know all aspects of the university better in the days to come. I love Trinity’s intercultural and international commitments, expressed in the institution’s investment in the life and work of the global church. The list of things and people that I love at Trinity is long, but I will stop there. I am truly grateful to be a part of such a special institution.
What are the opportunities you envision for Trinity?
Trinity’s numerous opportunities are tied to the institutional strengths, many of which are listed above. There are many opportunities that are likewise associated with the challenges noted below. There are key opportunities to help shape Trinity’s expanding identity and influence in the world of Christian higher education. I think there are opportunities to help ensure Trinity’s ongoing commitments to evangelical faithfulness, to academic excellence and intellectual seriousness, to cultural engagement and service to the church, and to the enhancement of campus community and constituency involvement. I am excited to think about opportunities to help the divinity school focus on its distinctive calling, even as we work to strengthen and expand the work of the undergraduate program. We have many opportunities, I believe, in the world of graduate programs, including ways to help the Trinity Law School mature and develop. I think that there are great opportunities associated with three of the centers at Trinity, the Bioethics Center, the Carl Henry Center and the Jonathan Edwards Center; I believe that all three of these have incredible promise. We will trust the Lord to guide our steps as we prioritize our collaborative efforts to work together to address these many good opportunities that the Lord has provided for the Trinity community.
What are the challenges that you see for Trinity?
Trinity faces some of the same challenges that almost every other private college or university is facing at this time, things like the need for enrollment stability, revenue enhancement, finding the best and wisest ways to use technology, and other similar challenges that we share with our friends in the world of private higher education. Trinity certainly has not been exempt from the enrollment and revenue challenges over the past five or six years. Now, Trinity must prioritize enrollment management, student retention, services to students, and resource development. Likewise, Trinity must continue to address matters associated with faculty and staff development in order to help us pursue Christ-centered excellence in all that we do each and every day. Moreover, Trinity faces some rather unique challenges that are associated with its distinctive structure, a structure that includes a large divinity school, a smaller undergraduate program, and underdeveloped graduate programs, including the law school. In addition, Trinity has the challenge of serving and resourcing extension sites in South Chicago, South Florida, and Southern California. I personally think that each one of these challenges should also be seen as special opportunities for the university at this time. We are excited about finding solution-oriented ways to address each one of these challenges, trusting the Lord to grant us much wisdom and discernment in all of these matters. We certainly will need God’s help, blessings, and favor for the days ahead.
How can others pray for Trinity?
As I just mentioned, we need God’s wisdom, help, grace, favor, and blessings for the days to come. Please pray that the Lord would grant to us a sense of coherence in our identity and work, a sense of collaboration across the campus that would result in a new synergy in our shared efforts, and a team of administrators, faculty and staff who are working together shoulder-to-shoulder to advance the wonderful mission of Trinity International University. Please pray that the Lord would send us the right students, that he would expand our resources, and that he would grant us unexpected blessings for the calling that is ours. We must all come to a place of recognizing anew our sense of total dependence on our good and great God for his provision for Trinity. Please pray that we all would be found faithful in our leadership and our stewardship of the institution, working together to advance the gospel with which we have been entrusted, working together to advance a distinctive Christ-centered approach to higher education for the glory of God.