Tom Davis announces retirement

Jul 12th, 2013 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Daniel Vandever

THE HONOREE. Navajo Technical College president, Dr. Elmer J. Guy, awards Tom Davis with a Pendleton blanket and a turquoise bracelet for his contributions to NTC. Photo by Daniel Vandever

Navajo Technical College (NTC, Crownpoint, NM) provost Tom Davis announced his retirement after four decades of service to tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). Over the course of his career, Davis worked for six different TCUs in various leadership positions, helping many of these colleges—including NTC—develop strong academic programs and achieve regional and national accreditation.

Davis began his career in 1972 when the tribal college movement was in its infancy. He served as director of asynchronous education at Bay Mills Community College (Brimley, MI), interim president at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (Cloquet, MN), and president at Lac Courtes Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (Hayward, WI) and at Little Priest Tribal College (Winnebago, NE). Davis also played a critical role in the founding of the College of Menominee Nation (Keshena, WI) in 1993.

Throughout his illustrious career, Davis urged TCUs to take the lead in exploring and adopting new and emerging technologies to support the goals of the college, the community, and the tribe. He cultivated partnerships with leaders in technological innovation, such as the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the San Diego Supercomputing Center at the University of California, San Diego—partnerships which have helped TCUs build their technology-enabled research infrastructure.

“In the higher education community, there’ve been a handful of people who have really moved the tribal college movement forward and he’s one of them,” said NTC president, Dr. Elmer J. Guy. “With his help at NTC, we’ve been able to move our institution to be one of the better colleges in the United States.”

Davis also made significant contributions to international Indigenous education, helping to establish the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) in 2002. Davis and the organization’s other founders hoped to create an international forum and vehicle for supporting the world’s Indigenous peoples in pursuing common goals through higher education. He became a member of the original WINHEC executive board with 15 other leaders in Indigenous education from across the world.

“I’ve been privileged in my life working in tribal education. I’ve had the privilege of walking with all kinds of giants in my time,” stated Davis. “I never thought of myself as one of those giants, but I’ve known a lot of people who are absolutely extraordinary.” In retirement, Davis will return to his home in Wisconsin with his wife Ethel.

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