Bob Davies; his past and his future
By Aimee Kidrick
News & Features Editor
When former EOU President Bob Davies was young, business and finance were not at the head of his childhood fantasies. “I wanted to be a professional baseball or basketball player. Didn’t have the height for basketball or the skills for baseball, though,” Davies said.
Although perhaps lacking in height, Davies nonetheless set off on a storied career involving higher education and university students. His time at EOU, in fact, is only one of his more recent jobs. However, it may be one of his most memorable jobs he’s ever had thanks to his many interactions with students.
Born in Flagstaff, Arizona, Davies had a father who worked as a history professor before he became a provost at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1980. This forced Davies’ family to move.
“I had my young years in Flagstaff and my teenage years in Reno,” explained Davies.
Davies’ career, however, would take him far beyond Nevada. From Boise State University, where he met his wife, to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he was Vice President before moving to La Grande, Davies has been involved with many college institutions. He even attended the University of Oregon for his master’s degree in business and spent some time in New York.
Despite his position as Vice President at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Davies was compelled to visit Eastern Oregon University when the college looked for a new president around 2008. “I applied and came here for an interview and fell in love with the place and the people,” he said.
Davies made many remarkable memories during his five years as president at EOU. From being gifted a skateboard to attending the many sporting events and theater plays, his presence on campus could be felt daily
One of his best memories, however, involve a time where he and a student switched roles.
“I had a student come up and ask me what I did all day. So I let the student be president for one whole day,” said Davies. “And the only thing I told her is that, to do this, we’d have to do a flip and I’d have to be student for a day.”
As such, two days went by, with one day having the student as the president and the other having Davies as the student. Davies even took a quiz in one of her morning classes; the student got an A. Davies got a C. Most taxing of all, however, may have been how he had to participate in rehearsal for “Titanic”, a play the student was in at the time.
“We had the flash mob downtown, and I had to learn the dance and song. It was hard,” said Davies.
Although he may have been a student for a day, he was still a president who, at the end of each school year, saw many students graduate. Each graduation ceremony meant a lot to him.
“My favorite events…graduations, by far, and this year’s graduation is going to be very special,” said Davies. “A lot of students who came in my first year are graduating this year, fifth-year seniors.”
Unlike past years, Davies himself is leaving at the end of this school year. In fact, the situation with Murray State is remarkably similar to how Davies ended up in Eastern Oregon to begin with. “One of the individuals who called me about Eastern Oregon was also one of the individuals who called me about Murray State,” he explained.
Murray State University, located in Kentucky, rivals La Grande in size. The four-year university boasts around 9000 to 10000 students compared to La Grande’s 13,000 citizens. After visiting the campus, however, and seeing how student-oriented the university was, Davies decided to take the job.
Davies also had the future of his daughter in mind when accepting the position of Murray State President. His daughter is interested in working with horses, and Kentucky may prove to be an ideal place for her to get valuable experience with her chosen career.
Although Davies is leaving, he believes that interim president Jay Kenton, who starts on June 15, will do an excellent job in his place.
“He’s someone who understands our students and has a passion for this institution,” said Davies. “I support him 100 percent.”
Ultimately, Davies states that he will never forget about this college and its students, even though he’ll be far away in Kentucky. “It’s hard leaving this place. You guys are all great,” he said. “This is a very special place. I hope you all treasure it.”