Behind the scenes: Union’s First Ladies comment on roles

David and Lanese Dockery

Union has been blessed for the past two decades to have David Dockery as president and the future is promising with Dub Oliver to be his successor. Both gentlemen have great attributes that influence their success as president of a university, including their wives.

Lanese Dockery and Susie Oliver work tremendously hard, both in their individual roles and as a constant encouragement to their husbands.

David and Lanese Dockery came to Union from Southern Seminary 18 years ago. They transitioned from a position as chief academic officer to president. It was a significant and challenging role to adjustment.

“While both the context and the role we experienced were different, the calling to Union was so strong and the support we experienced was so encouraging, that, with God’s help, we made the transition well,” Lanese Dockery said.

At the time they moved to Union, it was a much different place. Enrollment was at fewer than 2,000 students and the west and south sides of campus had not yet been developed.

“We saw such an amazing potential in the students, staff, and faculty,” Lanese Dockery said.

The role of president is demanding. There are long hours and large responsibilities involved. “We have approached our work at Union as a team, using our individual gifts to serve the university,” Lanese Dockery said. “He encourages me to use these gifts in a way that they can best be used for the good of Union University. In a similar way, I have tried to encourage him in his area of giftedness.”

As the Dockerys transition out of the role of president and first lady, they said they will greatly miss the people and community at Union but are excited about what the Lord has in store for them. “I have enjoyed the

people at Union the most and I will miss these people the most as we transition to the next opportunity of service,” Lanese Dockery said.

The 16th president of Union and his wife, Susie Oliver, said they are equally excited for the opportunity to serve at Union.

Along with being an avid supporter of Dr. Oliver in his many roles, Mrs. Oliver has held many roles of her own while at previous universities. She taught elementary education and adaptive physical education programs, coordinated and coached Special Olympics, and coached cheerleading on the side while living in Fort Worth, Texas.

She was the director of the spirit program at Baylor University. Her most current role is as spirit director at East Texas Baptist Univeristy; she also teaches kinesiology classes and manages the student center at the university.

In addition, she hosts spouses of the ETBU trustees and events for the students and faculty. She serves on boards and acts as the liaison between the community and the school.

Oliver said she also tries to encourage her husband in his role as best she can.

They have a date night once a week in order to talk and listen to each other.

“I make sure I have time to just listen to him when he needs it; I try to be positive at all times, never negative,” she said.

Oliver loves spending time getting to know the students and relating to them. She has played volleyball and football intramurals, baked cookies for finals and hosts events for students at their home, she said.

“Students are very real and open about who they are,” Susie Oliver said. “With coaching, advising and teaching a class, it’s fun to connect and spend time and life with them.”

The Olivers say they are excited to make new connections with students.

About DeShawn Manley 24 Articles
DeShawn is a Public Relations major, Class of 2015. She loves concerts, sporting events, and adventuring. Follow DeShawn on Instagram and Twitter: @deshawnmanley1.