President Bob Davies’ investiture marks the closing of a “phenomenal” first year
On March 12, 2014, a man from Eastern Oregon University received a phone call as his plane was taxiing to the gate. On the other end of the line was an offer: the 13th Murray State presidency.
After deliberations, interviews and forums, the Board of Regents unanimously chose Bob Davies as president and four months later on July 14, Davies began his official duties.
Entering with intentions of making his presidency at Murray State his “capstone presidency,” Davies’ first academic year as president now inches toward a close, which he described with a smile as nothing other than “phenomenal.”
Friday marks a historical moment for Davies and the University with Davies’ investiture beginning at 2 p.m. in Lovett Auditorium, the first investiture in eight years since former President Randy Dunn’s in 2007.
Lovett’s steps will greet students, faculty, staff, Board of Regents members, family, friends and others including Gov. Steve Beshear, where Davies will speak his message of “Achievement, Endeavor and Hope.” While such sentiments are shared throughout the University, they do not stop there.
‘NOTEWORTHY’ AND ‘REFRESHING’ PRESIDENT
Two days before the official offer, Caitlin Dunaway, Panhellenic President and Student Government Association senator, met with Davies with 11 of her peers as a representative of the Freshman Council.
Just over a year later, Dunaway said Davies stood out to her then in a way he still does now – for his friendliness.
“When I met Dr. Davies, his friendliness stood out and I knew that he would be a president that would truly care about the students and be involved with campus life,” Dunaway said. “He has done that and even more. He has lived up to all the expectations that I had for president.”
Dunaway said that with her involvement in Greek Life, she noticed that Davies has made a point to come to events and meetings, even if it is for something as simple as seeing how the chapters are doing.
For the future, she said she has just one requirement for Davies, which is to continue doing exactly what he is doing now.
“Our campus adores Dr. Davies; he’s like a celebrity at Murray State,” she said, and described his first year as “noteworthy.”
Michael Dobbs, SGA president and Student Regent, expressed such thoughts similarly. Dobbs will give the invocation during Davies’ investiture, and said as an outgoing senior, he is not worried about the path Murray State will take after his graduation.
“It’s the way he is,” Dobbs said. “His presence on campus … it’s refreshing to see that in a president.”
He added that Davies just recently took the time to take a phone call with Jackie Dudley, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services, to talk bond sales and multimillion dollar deals while sitting on a bench outside of Carr Health Building. While ultimately a small occurrence in the day of a president, Dobbs said it’s an example of Davies’ character and his tendency to not remain behind his Wells Hall desk.
“If he keeps doing what he is doing, he’ll be here forever,” Dobbs said.
‘DYNAMIC,’ ‘ENGAGED’ AND ‘PRODUCTIVE’ LEADER
Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, has worked at Murray State since 1975 and during the years he’s been on campus, Robertson said he’s never seen a president quite like Davies.
“He’s without a doubt the most student-orientated president I’ve ever seen,” he said. “His energy level is unbelievable. He’s so visible with students and he interacts with them in formal occasions and also very informal. The best compliment I can give Dr. Davies is that he’s been here for less than a year, but it’s like he’s been here for years. He’s so entrenched in the culture here.”
Robertson works with Davies on an administrative level, which gives him a point of view of the inner workings of the University that some do not get to see.
“He’s been great to work with, from a vice president standpoint,” Robertson said. “You couldn’t have asked for a better administrator or a better boss or a better person to help you carry out your agenda.”
Davies’ work ethic, which Robertson said was applicable to areas of the University beyond Student Affairs, has translated to the University’s colleges and schools as well.
Tim Todd, dean of the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, said Davies has shown that his leadership style is highlighted by his ability to listen and his engagement with the University’s community.
“The strategic planning process that has been happening for this entire academic year has been one of shared governance, focused dialogue and listening,” Todd said. “I say that quite specifically, because President Davies listens and listens well. All too often people generally listen in order to respond when in reality everyone should listen to understand. President Davies has this quality, and he exemplifies it each and every day.”
The Strategic Initiatives planning process, which has been ongoing since the fall semester, focuses on four all encompassing aspects of the University. Developed to span seven years to 2022, the plan outlines several goals for the University.
Catherine Sivills, vice president of Branding, Marketing and Communication, said Strategic Initiatives is an example of how Davies has jumped into his role with both feet.
“For me, personally, that’s one of the most exciting things that he’s brought to the table is initiating this really inclusive process across campus to find out how we can stretch ourselves and accomplishing our goals to continue to improve the product that we present to students,” Sivills said.
She said through her job in communications, she has been able to work with Davies on multiple projects and see him interact and engage with the community.
She said she never noticed a period of Davies sitting back and watching, but rather he came into the University and she described his first year as “productive.”
“He has just really gotten involved, and that started before he even moved here,” she said. “But once he moved here, every time I turned around he would be at an event at night, and I would go, ‘Oh my gosh, Dr. Davies is there!’ So I think not only socially, but administratively we’ve moved forward on a lot of things and it’s only been nine months.”