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Ph.D., George Peabody College for Teachers.
Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Texas at Austin; President of Kappa Delta Pi (1980–82).

Editor of Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, Perspectives on Curriculum Development: 1776–1976 (1976), and NCSS in Retrospect (1993); Author of Schools of the Past: A Treasury of Photographs (1976). Contact Info: Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78212; (512) 471-4611; oldavisjr@mail.utexas.edu.

November 20, 1928
O. L. Davis, Jr., Nurturing Scholarship and Honoring Excellence in Education


O. L. Davis, Jr., the son of a school teacher and a teacher turned school superintendent, was born in the Texas panhandle, grew up in southern Texas, and graduated from high school in the center of Texas. He lettered in sports, edited the school newspaper, participated in speech contests, and graduated as valedictorian of his class. As an undergraduate at North Texas State Teachers College (now the University of North Texas in Denton, TX), he was initiated into the Alpha Iota Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi and served as an officer.

Davis began his teaching career in higher education as a teaching fellow in the School of Education and Psychology at NTSC. He completed his master’s of education in public school administration in 1950, taught English and speech for a year and then became an elementary school principal in Burleson, Texas (1951). He served with the U. S. Navy from 1952−56. He did his doctoral work at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, TN. When he transferred his Kappa Delta Pi membership, he was voted president of the chapter. He taught eighth grade in the Peabody Demonstration School and served as a teaching assistant and earned his Ph.D. in 1958.

Davis’ Career
After completing his doctorate, Davis became the Associate Secretary for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), National Education Association (NEA), Washington, D.C. His connection with ASCD did not end in 1960 when he became Associate Director of the Fifth Year Program in Teacher Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served on several ASCD councils and commissions, edited the Association’s landmark yearbook Perspectives on Curriculum Development 1776-1976, served as the ASCD President 1982-83, and edited the ASCD Journal of Curriculum and Supervision (JCS) from 1993−2005 at which time he was recognized with the Association’s “Award of Excellence and Achievement.”

At Kent State University (1962−66) O. L. Davis served as Acting Director of the Bureau of Educational Research and directed the launch of the doctoral program in curriculum and instruction. In 1966, he moved back to Texas as an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at The University of Texas at Austin where he remained until he retired in 2007. During his last 6 years at UT, Davis held the Catherine Mae Parker Centennial Professor of Curriculum and Instruction. He established and directed the UT Oral History in Education Program (1976−2007). Over the years he and his students added to the oral history collections interviews with leaders of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Council for the Social Studies, Kappa Delta Pi, and the International Reading Association. Though retired, O. L. keeps busy with book editing and research interests in the areas of contemporary U.S. curriculum policy, the school curriculums in the United States and the United Kingdom during World War II, the work of Texas’ State Agents for Negro Schools (1919−50), Rosenwald Schools constructed in Texas, and the Texas Curriculum Development Project (1933−37).

Mentor is an apt title often applied to Davis for he has supervised more than 160 completed Ph. D. dissertations and ten completed M.A. or M. Ed. theses. Former doctoral advisees hold or have held tenured appointments at a number of universities, including two who have become university presidents, one who was Interim Provost, and one who was Vice-Chancellor. Several former advisees hold or have held key positions in school systems, state agencies, private foundations, textbook publishing companies, church ministry and missions agencies, and government.

Davis’ Involvement with Professional Organizations
Davis has contributed to numerous professional organizations in addition to ASCD and KDP.
• He served as Vice-President of Division B of the American Education Research Association (1971−73) and founded two AERA Special Interest Groups: the Research in Social Studies Education SIG and the Teaching History SIG.
• He is a founding member of the Society for the Study of Curriculum History and served as its secretary (1978−79) and president (1979−80).
• He is a founding member of the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum and served as the first president (1994−95).
• He is an active member of the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). He is a founding member of the Foundations of the Social Studies, a SIG of NCSS and served as its chair (1995−96).
• He served as secretary (2001−02), vice-president (2002−03), and president (2003−04) of the Midwest History of Education Society (now the Organization of Educational Historians).
• He was elected to membership in the Professors of Curriculum (1964) and has served as the organization’s factotum on three occasions.

Internationally, his professional activities include election as a Fellow in the College of Preceptors of London, England (1984) and in the Royal Society of Arts (1988). He has been a visiting professor at numerous institutions.

Davis – Author and Editor; Activities in KDP
Davis’ talent as an editor grew as he served on the editorial boards of journals such as The Educational Forum (1971−74); Journal of Educational Research; Journal of Curriculum and Supervision (1984−92); International Journal of Social Education (1985−present); Baylor Educator (1987−present); The Curriculum Journal (UK); Revista Mexicana De Pedagogia; Theory and Research in Social Education; American Educational Research Journal (1973−76); Encyclopedia of Educational Research (5th Edition, 1980−82); and the Educational Research Quarterly (1996−2007). He is a series editor on research on curriculum and instruction for Information Age Publishing, with eight published books and eight more in progress. O. L. Davis, Jr., has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited more than thirty books, fifty chapters or sections, and more than 160 professional and scholarly articles.

Davis served as a Counselor to a Kappa Delta Pi chapter for 40 years at The University of Texas at Austin (1967−2007). During his tenure, his chapter received many Awards in Chapter Excellence (ACE). Davis became active nationally with KDP in 1971 when he joined the editorial board for The Educational Forum. He served on the President’s Advisory Committee (1972−74), became a member of the Executive Council as Vice-President for Chapter Development (1974−76), became President–Elect (1978−80), was elected President (1980−82), and then served as Past-President (1982−84). Davis advocated a recruitment campaign to establish new chapters on large university campuses. As part of the modernization movement for KDP, Davis and other leaders sought to clarify the Society’s policies, management practices, and by-laws. Considerable attention was given to KDP’s publications during Davis’ tenure. Chapter manuals were written and given to chapters at Convo. Various booklets were published, cassettes and recordings were made and distributed, a newsletter was started, and a new periodical for preservice teachers received attention. The creation of the Kappa Delta Pi Educational Foundation took place in 1980. The Society reinstituted its international activities in 1981, but Davis felt it was important to limit those activities to Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands due to differences in standards of instruction and language.

Davis provided significant funding to endow the Kappa Delta Pi Doctoral Scholarship in Curriculum and Instruction at his alma mater, the University of North Texas. In 1994, Davis’ former doctoral students, a number of friends, and members of his family funded the O. L. Davis, Jr., Laureate Doctoral Scholarship in Curriculum and Instruction within the KDP Educational Foundation. The Society honored his long service as a local chapter counselor by establishing, in 2007, the O. L. Davis, Jr., Counselor of Distinction Award to honor outstanding faculty members who have served as local chapter counselors and who have demonstrated exceptions service, personal scholarship, professional development, outstanding leadership of a Society chapter, and mentorship of the chapter’s student scholars and leaders.

Professional Honors
Dr. Davis has received recognition from numerous bodies for his scholarship and contributions of service to the profession. His honors include:
• First NCSS Citation for Exemplary Research in Social Studies Education (1974)
• Honor Key from Kappa Delta Pi (1975) – for exceptional service to the Society
• Elected Kappa Delta Pi Laureate (1994)
• AERA Division B Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Curriculum Studies (1996)
• NCSS Distinguished Career Research in Social Studies Education Award (1996)
• Distinguished Alumnus of the University of North Texas (1999)
• Distinguished Alumnus of Peabody College of Vanderbilt University (2004)
• Dr. William C. Bagley Award for Leadership Excellence from Kappa Delta Pi (2013)

Information taken from A Century of Leadership: Biographies of Kappa Delta Pi Presidents (edited by O. L. Davis, Jr. and Mindy Spearman): “O.L. Davis, Jr. (1980–1982): Nurturing Scholarship and Honoring Excellence in Education,” by Ron W. Wilhelm. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

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