In 1949, Nancy Randolph Davis became the first African-American student to enroll at what was then Oklahoma A&M College, now Oklahoma State University. A year earlier, she received her bachelor’s degree in home economics from historically Black Langston University in Oklahoma and began her teaching career the same year at Dunjee High School in Spencer, Oklahoma. Davis attended the university during the summers so she could continue teaching high school. Initially, she was required to sit in the hallway outside a classroom because of the color of her skin. Her fellow students complained until she was ultimately allowed a seat in the class.
Davis received her master’s degree in home economics in 1952. Davis retired from teaching in 1991 after 43 years of service, 20 years at Dunjee High School and 23 years at Star Spencer High School. Davis passed away March 23, 2015.
Davis Hall , a dormitory, was named in her honor in 2001. Each February, the university celebrates “Nancy Randolph Davis Day.” A three-mile stretch of Interstate 35 West in Stillwater was renamed the Nancy Randolph Davis Memorial Highway in 2018. A year later, a statue of Davis was placed on the Stillwater campus.
Now the Oklahoma A&M Regents have approved renaming of the Human Sciences and Human Sciences West buildings to Nancy Randolph Davis and Nancy Randolph Davis West.
“This historically profound action by OSU and the A&M Board of Regents reflects and represents far more than the name of Mrs. Davis being physically attached and permanently assigned to one of the primary buildings for this academic college. It memorializes the willingness and desire of OSU to provide a sense of hope, as well as a level of expectation, on every member of the OSU community and family, that we can, must, and will continue engaging in meaningful efforts to transform ourselves and this university into a place that provides the fulfillment of educational goals and ideals in alignment with our land-grant mission,” said Jason F. Kirksey, vice president for institutional diversity and chief diversity officer.