Ph.D. Alumnus earns Dr. Virgil Alexander Wood Dissertation Award

Union Ph.D. alumnus Reverend Gregory Bailey is the first recipient of the Dr. Virgil Alexander Wood Dissertation Award for his dissertation King’s Pursuit of Economic Justice: Correcting Capitalism through a Beloved Economy. The award recognizes Reverend Bailey’s research on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy in building a beloved community that confronts racism, war, and poverty.

Reverend Bailey is the associate pastor at Union Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where he serves as worship leader, adult educator, and clergy support. He also practices law representing the poor and underserved.

In addition to his Union Institute & University Ph.D., earned in 2013, Reverend Bailey holds a Juris Doctorate, Business and Tax Law, from Georgetown University, a Post Juris Doctorate, Master of Sacred Theology, Social Ethics, from Boston University School of Theology, a Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, and a bachelor of science in business administration from Fairfield University, School of Business.

Dr. Wood was instrumental in proposing Union’s Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Studies MLK Studies program, a focused area of study to honor and continue the intellectual, moral, and social justice legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The low residency program focuses on extending, expanding, challenging, and enhancing Dr. King’s legacy. MLK Studies students examine the intellectual, spiritual, moral, leadership, policy, and political issues addressed by Dr. King in his writing and political activities.

Dr. Virgil A. Wood

Dr. Wood, church leader, educator, and civil rights activist, has committed much of his life’s work to the struggle for economic and spiritual development among the nation’s disadvantaged.

Ordained as a Baptist minister in his late teens, Dr. Wood has served for more than 50 years, leading congregations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia. During his pastorate in Lynchburg, Virginia, he became actively involved with the Civil Rights movement, setting up the Martin Luther King work there as the Lynchburg Improvement Association, a local unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1963 to 1970, Dr. Wood led the Blue Hill Christian Center of Boston’s Roxbury community. He served with Martin Luther King Jr. as a member of his National Executive Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the last ten years of Dr. King’s life and work, and coordinated the state of Virginia in the Historic March on Washington on April 28, 1963.

In 1973, he received his doctorate in education from Harvard University. As an educator, Dr. Wood served as dean and director of the African American Institute and associate professor at Northeastern University, Boston, and professor at Virginia Seminary and College, in Lynchburg, and a visiting lecturer, research and teaching fellow at Harvard University.

Dr. Wood’s many notable accomplishments include serving as an administrator for Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America (OIC), a job training organization serving disadvantaged and under-skilled Americans of all races. He assisted in founding and establishing 13 OIC centers in eight southern states, and in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Wood also served as a panelist and member of three White House conferences under the Johnson, Nixon, and Carter administrations.

Dr. Wood’s publications include Introduction to Black Church Economic Studies. He was the founder and contributing editor to the Jubilee Bible, and author of In Love We Trust: Lessons I learned from Martin Luther King. He has combined his dual career in church leadership and education with a life-long commitment to community development as economic and spiritual transformation. A former member of the Economic Development Task Force of the National Conference of Black Mayors, he also has served his national denomination as the first chairman of its Economic Development Commission, the Progressive National Baptist Convention. He is currently working to shape functional and substantial faith-based initiatives.

Dr. Wood is Pastor Emeritus of the Pond Street Baptist Church, which he served from 1983 to 2005, and previously from 1955 to 1958.