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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Most Influential Women: Rachael Dockery

Missouri State University

Posted online

General counsel and chief compliance officer may not sound like excitable titles.

But for Rachael Dockery, those roles at Missouri State University are full of a wide array of significant tasks influencing finances, policy and personnel.

In Dockery’s seven years at the post, she’s created the university’s COVID-19 policies, renegotiated its Mercy network agreement for annual savings of $1 million, completed a transaction for new market tax credits with The Vecino Group to fund the IDEA Commons expansion project, redrafted Title IX policies on campus and negotiated the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s agreement with ESPN as the only attorney selected to represent the MVFC.

Those are just a few of her MSU career highlights.

MSU President Clif Smart puts it plainly: “Rachael is the best lawyer I have ever worked with.”

He understands Dockery’s job well. He held MSU’s general counsel position before being named school president.

“She has managed some of the most complicated deals, situations and litigation a lawyer could face and resolved each case or situation expertly,” Smart says.

The two also previously worked as lawyers for Strong, Garner & Bauer PC before Smart moved into higher education. Dockery was a shareholder at the firm, 2005-10.

For MSU, Smart specifically credits Dockery with finalizing the IDEA Commons project with The Vecino Group and negotiating an $8 million insurance settlement for the school in relation to communications towers collapsing on property in Fordland.

“In addition to managing the legal affairs of our $300 million organization superbly, she is a critical part of our leadership team,” he says, pointing to her role on the president’s cabinet, managing her department of a dozen team members and working on MSU committees, including chairing new hire searches.

Dockery directs MSU’s Division of Legal Affairs and Compliance, which oversees several campus offices, including general counsel, institutional equity and compliance, deputy compliance and Title IX, which she created.

She’s particularly proud of creating the MSU Care Clinic on campus for patients ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare and who have a household income less than 150% of the federal poverty level. And avoiding university layoffs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 ranks high. MSU created a two-thirds pay category of leave.

“Employees who were not essential workers and did not have job duties that could be performed remotely were temporarily relieved of duties but still received two-thirds of their normal pay and full benefits,” Dockery says. “I was extremely proud to be part of an administrative team that remained focused on taking care of our employees.”

With a Juris Doctor from University of Arkansas, Dockery started her career as a judicial law clerk for Judge Nancy Rahmeyer, then a deputy prosecuting attorney in Benton County, Arkansas.

In her civic roles, she’s currently on the boards of the Ozarks Regional YMCA and the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Foundation, as well as Christ Episcopal Church’s fiduciary decision-making board and its pastoral support and advisory team.

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