Miles Davis, dean of Shenandoah University’s Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business, has been named the 20th president of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.
He will be the first African-American president in the school’s 160-year history.
“Miles Davis has so many tremendous gifts as a leader, visionary thinker and communicator,” said Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons. “He employed those gifts well in ways that raised the profile of Shenandoah University and the Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business. Because of his efforts, Shenandoah is well-positioned to attract another great business school dean.”
Speaking about Davis, Linfield College’s outgoing president, Thomas Hellie, said, “His personality and experience align very well with our college’s culture and future needs.”
Davis joined Shenandoah University in 2001 as an assistant business professor, and every five to six years he’s climbed up another rung: associate professor in 2006; dean in 2012; and now, in 2018, president of Linfield.
Those 17 years have been busy. During his time with Shenandoah University, the School of Business has become the most diverse school on campus, reflecting a cause close to Davis’ heart.
“We do well as a society when all people are doing well, and we’re not feeling like we’re pitted against one another,” Davis said.
He was initially attracted to Linfield College because of the institution’s commitment to diversity. He hopes to continue that tradition, but understands the challenges there will be different than those facing the Shenandoah Valley.
“Now, diversity in the Pacific Northwest is a little different than diversity here, of course,” Davis said. “You’re dealing with a significant Asian population, a larger Hispanic population, not as many African-Americans. And then you also have to talk about economic diversity; how do you bring in people that might have been locked up in the system, and help them be successful?”
Davis is the first college president to come from the PhD Project, a network that helps members of underrepresented communities attain business doctorates and become leaders in higher education.
When Davis joined the program in 1995, there were fewer than 300 minority individuals holding a doctorate in business in the U.S. He’s since taken on the role of mentor for other members of minority communities, a role he said he’s continued “on a consistent basis.” The PhD Project reports that there are more than 1,300 doctorates in business among members of minorities today.
Besides increasing diversity, over the course of his tenure at Shenandoah University, Davis has increased enrollment for the business school by 77 percent and increased full-time faculty from 13 to 25.
“I really have enjoyed myself at Shenandoah University. Sometimes I feel like there are still things — in fact, I know there are still things that I would like to do and accomplish,” Davis said. “But also, it’s an opportunity to serve in a different capacity. The school’s in good hands. We have good professors, and I think we’ll be OK.”
Davis will assume the presidency of Linfield College on July 1. Until then, he will continue in his capacity as dean with Shenandoah.
The university immediately launched a national search to find a suitable replacement.
“From the moment I engaged with Linfield and the community, it has been a growing love affair … I am excited about becoming a part of this community of learners and scholars,” Davis said.
But, he said, “I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Hornets.”