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First Lady Lanese Dockery receives degree during December commencement

JACKSON, Tenn.Dec. 18, 2001 – As with every graduation since he took office in 1996, Union President David S. Dockery has the honor of handing out the diplomas to the graduates of each class as they walk across stage. During Union’s recent December graduation for the class of 2001 and 2002, many in the audience were delighted to see him stop and hug one graduate as she walked towards him – his bride of 26 years and Union First Lady Lanese Dockery, who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Lanese Dockery with fellow graduates
First Lady Lanese Dockery poses with some of her biggest supporters - fellow students.
Lanese Dockery began her pursuit of higher education at the University of Alabama in 1972, the same year that she met her future husband. Working side by side with her husband for more than a quarter of a century, Lanese has remained a close “teammate” to her husband, but delayed her own education in order to help him in his work. She served in many ways – whether at a church he was pastoring as Vacation Bible School director and choir member or helping to recruit deans and faculty members at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where Dockery served as dean of the school of theology and vice president for academic administration.

As a student at Union, taking classes as she could since 1996, Lanese has enjoyed her academic experience at Union.

“I have loved taking classes – it’s given me a chance to really get to know professors and students,” she said, though she admits that she thinks the faculty, as well as she, felt a little pressure to perform well.

“I’ve felt a lot of pressure – I didn’t want to flunk out!” laughs Lanese, who graduated magna cum laude and was surprised with the academic medal of excellence for a minor in sociology at the traditional luncheon honoring graduates the day before commencement.

Lanese Dockery shortly after receiving her diploma

With two of their three sons attending Union (the youngest attends a sister institution in Arkansas) Lanese said there were many enjoyable moments studying and talking about classes with her boys.

“My sons have been very supportive – all of them. Tim (the youngest) gave me a card the other night that said ‘mom, now what are we going to talk about at dinner?” recalled Lanese, chuckling.

Lanese Dockery hugging her husband President David S. Dockery
“There was one rule – no classes with sons – and the boys always had precedence – if one wanted to take the same class, I’d let him take it first. I promised that I’d never interfere with their classes,” said Lanese.

With her new degree, Lanese says that she feels many holes in her education have been plugged.

“I can relate a lot better to what my sons are studying and what David writes about – I can understand the terminology a lot better just because I’ve been introduced to it in my Union education,” explained Lanese.

The First Lady will take a break from class for now, but says she will think about the possibility of working on a master’s in the future, possibly in Christian counseling.


Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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