RIO GRANDE — Ohio University President Dr. Roderick McDavis will be serving as the keynote speaker for the Emancipation Day Celebration this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Bob Evans Farms.
McDavis is the 20th and current president of Ohio University in Athens. McDavis has more than 35 years of service in higher education, including roles as both a professor and an academic administrator.
One of three sons, Roderick was one of Joseph and Mabel McDavis’ twin boys, and grew up in Dayton, before beginning his academic career as an undergraduate at Ohio University and earning a bachelor of arts degree He was a runner on the men’s varsity track team. He later completed an master of arts degree at the University of Dayton and a dcotoral degree at the University of Toledo, both in the field of higher education.
He was a professor of education in the Department of Counselor Education at the University of Florida from 1974 to 1989 and an associate dean of the graduate school and minority programs at the same university from 1984 to 1989. He served as dean of the College of Education and professor of counselor education at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, from 1989 to 1994 and as director of the Arkansas Academy for Leadership Training and School-Based Management from 1992 to 1994. He was dean of the College of Education and professor of education at the University of Florida from 1994 to 1999. McDavis subsequently served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of education at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., from 1999 to 2004.
McDavis became the 20th president of Ohio University on July 1, 2004. He is the first Ohioan of African ancestry and only the second alumnus to lead Ohio University as president. In 1995, McDavis was named Person of the Year in Education by The Gainesville Sun. He also received the Post-Secondary Outstanding Educator Award from the North Central Florida Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa in 1996.
McDavis was the recipient of the 1997 Black Achiever’s Award in Education from the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators. In 2007, McDavis was one of only six president and CEO-level leaders in the state to be recognized with a Leadership Ohio Award of Excellence.Upon becoming president of Ohio University in 2004, one of the first major initiatives he led was the development of a strategic planning process. That process led to the creation and implementation of Vision OHIO, the university’s first comprehensive strategic plan.
McDavis and his wife, Deborah, helped launch two Ohio University scholarship initiatives — the Urban Scholars and Appalachian Scholars programs. The two programs were created to support one of McDavis’s primary goals, which is to increase the diversity of the student population and enhance opportunities for high-achieving students who may not otherwise have an opportunity to get a college education. These programs provide academically gifted students from disproportionately represented backgrounds with full-tuition scholarships as well as support for textbooks and professional development opportunities.
The Urban Scholars Program focuses on students from major metropolitan areas, while the Appalachian Scholars Program selects students from 29 Appalachian counties in Ohio.
On October 28, 2008, McDavis created another initiative to support increasing diversity. The Interlink Alliance, an educational partnership, was formed with nine member institutions, including Ohio University and eight historically black colleges and universities.
McDavis also has sought to focus efforts on enhancing the university’s reputation as an institution of academic excellence. The success of Ohio University’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards speaks to the impact of those efforts, with a university record set in the 2007 to 08 academic year.
McDavis recently announced that he will retire next year. He has been in office 12 years, making him the longest-serving sitting president at a major public university in Ohio.