University remembers retired professor Rodney Davis

Topics: Administrative, Miller College of Business

February 17, 2017

Rod Davis
Ball State University remembers longtime business professor Rodney Davis.

Ball State University is remembering the dedication of Rodney Davis, a fixture in the Miller College of Business as a student, professor and administrator for nearly five decades until his recent death.

Davis, 70, who had retired from the university in 2016, was living in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife Charlene, a marketing professor at Trinity University, at the time of his passing on Monday, Feb. 13.

Miller College Dean Jennifer Bott said Davis had a profound effect the lives of thousands of students and colleagues who passed through the halls of the Whitinger Business Building.

Davis graduated from Ball State with a bachelor’s degree in business education in 1969 and a master’s the following year. He returned to serve as a professor and then in leadership roles for Miller College.

“I witnessed his passion for teaching firsthand, transforming and molding our students into the type of professionals who are now leaders in the business world,” Bott said. “His mentorship extended to faculty members and staff — Rod couldn’t help but care and nurture everyone around him.”

Bott said Davis’ ability to work one-on-one with students was most evident when she worked with him on an immersive learning project early in her career.

“In the mid-2000s, Rod and I mentored a group of students on a project to assist Vera Bradley and the Indianapolis Indians,” she said. “From the first day of the project to the last, Rod was the consummate professional. He was prepared for every day, sharing his knowledge with the students, serving as a sounding board and then giving them a pat on the back when they got it right. All of us, myself included, learned so very much alongside Rod those two semesters. “

Interim President Terry King said Davis would be remembered not only as a friend and mentor to many throughout campus, but also for his compassion.

“Rod was an outstanding example of a good friend, teacher, faculty member and leader, but I will remember him for his dedication to helping others,” he said. “After Hurricane Katrina caused major damage in the South, Rod led student and faculty groups in 2005 and 2006 to Mississippi to provide assistance and help communities start rebuilding. He simply wanted to help others — something that we all should try to emulate.”

A native of Kokomo, Indiana, Davis also taught business classes at Haworth High School in Kokomo from 1969-72 before moving to Arizona State University to earn his doctorate in education in business and marketing education in 1974.

Davis returned to Ball State in 1974 as a professor in the Department of Business Education and Office Administration (now the Department of Information Systems and Operations Management) from 1974 to his retirement. He also served as department chair from 1986-2001.

Davis rose through the faculty ranks to serve as Miller College’s interim dean from 2007-09 after spending the previous six years as associate dean and interim associate dean.

Over the years, he advised hundreds of faculty, including Melody Alexander, an information systems professor who was hired by Davis for her first teaching job at Ball State in 1999.

The pair went on to co-author dozens of academic papers and led presentations focusing on improving the learning skills of students.

“I came here without knowing a soul on campus,” she said, “but Rod quickly took me under his wing and became a wonderful mentor — one of the best mentors a person could have. Over the years, we worked closely to speak at many conferences, and the rooms were always packed because Rod had such a national reputation as a master teacher. Everyone wanted to learn from him.”

In addition to his wife, Charlene, Davis is survived by his sons, Rod Davis Jr. of Indianapolis, and Ryan Davis (wife, Jolie) of South Barrington, Illinois; grandchildren; sisters and several other relatives.

Calling hours will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at The Meeks Mortuary and Crematory, Washington Street Chapel, 415 E. Washington St. The funeral will follow at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to a scholarship fund being created in his name. Gifts may be directed to the Ball State University Foundation, 2800 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie, Indiana 47304 with “in memory of Rod Davis” in the check memo line.

Condolences may be sent to the family online.

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