Lawrence A. Davis Jr., chancellor emeritus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, died on October 15. He was 85 years old.
A native of Pine Bluff, Davis attended the nursery school at what is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. His father was a faculty member at the school and later served as chancellor. After graduating from Merrill High School, Davis Jr. earned a bachelor’s degree at the university, where he majored in mathematics. Dr. Davis went on to earn a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Arkansas and a Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from Iowa State University.
Dr. Davis’ professional career began with a brief stint at Mississippi Vocational College, now Mississippi Valley State University. He returned to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff as a mathematics instructor. Dr. Davis swiftly moved through the ranks to assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, chair of the department of mathematics and physics, dean of Arts and Sciences, and dean of Liberal and Fine Arts. He was named chancellor of the university in 1991 and served in that role for 21 years.
Dr. Davis’ final public speech and appearance occurred during the 2022 homecoming festivities at the university, just a week before his passing. He helped kick off the annual golf tournament with prayer and congratulatory remarks and served as the homecoming parade’s grand marshal.
“Dr. Davis led UAPB with honor and distinction through two decades of growth and development,” said current Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander. “His care, concern, and support of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and stakeholders epitomize his legacy of exemplary servant leadership to his beloved ‘Dear Mother’ and community. I am grateful to him for his unwavering support, guidance, mentorship, and friendship since I joined the university.”