David S. Dockery was elected the 15th president of Union University on December 8, 1995. Since that time the university has seen an increase in student enrollment from 1,975 in the Fall of 1996 to 4,262 in 2012, which includes fifteen straight years of increased enrollment. Non-duplicating annual enrollment has increased from 2,183 to 5,301 during this time. The number of donors to the university has more than tripled during this period. The significant increase in giving to the university during this time has included more than twenty-five of the largest gifts in Union’s long history. Dockery has provided leadership for five major five-year strategic plans: Vision and Values 2001; Vision and Values 2005; Union 2010: A Vision for Excellence; Renewing Minds: Union 2012; and Illuminating Minds: Union 2015. Prior to coming to Union, Dockery served as Chief Academic Officer at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
During his tenure the university has seen a strong increase in commitment to excellence in teaching and scholarship. Union has been listed among the top tier institutions in the South each of the past sixteen years by U.S. News and World Report. Union has also been recognized during this time by Peterson’s Competitive College Guide, the Princeton Review, and Templeton’s Colleges that Encourage Character Development. Union has on six occasions received the President's Higher Education Community Service Award. Union has been listed among America's Colleges of Distinction and also as one of America's Top 100 College Buys. This past year Union was once again listed among USNWR Up and Coming universities in the country to watch. Union was ranked third in the South "where the faculty has an unusual commitment to undergraduate teaching." For the fifth straight year, Union was listed as an A+ institution for B students. First Things magazine named Union as one of the Top Twelve Protestant Universities in the entire country. In 2011, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Union to the Honor Roll of Great Colleges to Work For (one of only 30 universities in the entire country).
The university has added several new degree programs including undergraduate majors in digital media studies, engineering, physics, sports medicine, political science, theology, and ethics, among others, and several graduate programs in intercultural studies, Christian studies, nursing, social work, education, and pharmacy. Five doctoral programs have been started. Faculty development programs have been greatly enhanced and the breadth of student services has been visibly expanded. A new campus master plan, which literally re-envisioned the campus, has seen the addition of numerous new residence complexes, the Miller Tower, Jennings Hall, White Hall, Providence Hall, Hammons Hall, the Fesmire baseball/softball complex, Fesmire Athletic Fieldhouse, Smith Memorial Soccer Complex, the Grant Events Center, and the Bowld Student Commons Building. Regional campuses were established in Germantown, TN in 1997 and in Hendersonville, TN in 2009, which offer programs in education, business, nursing, and Christian studies. The annual budget has increased from $18 million to $90 million.