Raymond Gale Davis


Raymond Gale Davis, retired professor of public administration at the University of Kansas, died at the Olathe Hospice House of complications from Parkinson’s disease on January 4, 2018. He was born on April 11, 1941 in Rock Springs, Wyoming to Raymond and Margaret Davis.  Ray grew up in Green River and Cheyenne, Wyoming, graduating from Cheyenne High School in 1959.  He earned a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Wyoming in 1964, followed by a M.A. in Political Science, also from the University of Wyoming, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis. 

In 1964, he married Kathleen Thompson in Casper, Wyoming. They had one son, Paul. 

While completing his Ph.D., Ray worked as a committee staffer and consultant for the Senate Natural Resources Committee in the California Legislature. In 1972, shortly after the birth of his son Paul, Ray came to the University of Kansas as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science.  He completed a post-doctoral fellowship from 1974-1976 with the Bureau of Community Health Services at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington, D.C.. Upon returning to KU, Ray became the Director of the Edwin O. Stene Graduate Program in Public Administration from 1977-1982.  For many decades the KU public administration program has been ranked among the top public administration programs in the nation.  In 1982, Ray channeled his increasing interest in health care by founding the Department of Health Services Administration (now known as the Department of Health Policy & Management).  He served as chair of this department from 1982-1997.  Ray returned to the Department of Public Administration on a full-time basis in 2003 after he helped oversee the Department of Health Policy & Management’s move to the KU School of Medicine.  He retired from KU in 2007.

Ray was passionate about teaching. He was recognized by KU for distinguished teaching numerous times during his career.  He served as Chair of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration from 1999-2000 and was a member of the Board of Editors for the Health Care Management Review and Journal of Health Administration Education.  In 1987 Ray chaired the University of Kansas Task Force on AIDS.  He also served as a member of the University Council and University Senate, where he chaired the Senate Executive Committee.

In 1993 Ray was appointed as a Trustee for Lawrence Memorial Hospital.  He was instrumental in preserving LMH as Lawrence’s community hospital and fighting off an effort by for-profit Columbia-HCA to build a competing hospital in Lawrence.  While serving as chair of the Board of Trustees Ray hired new leadership that paved the way for LMH to be recognized as one of the top community hospitals in the nation.  Ray also served on the board of trustees for the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, the board of directors of the Douglas County Health Department and State of Kansas Health Policy Authority Board.  He authored numerous publications on health care, local government and state government, including a book on the Kansas Legislature.

Survivors include Kathleen Davis, Ray’s wife of 53 years; son Paul Davis (Stephanie); granddaughter Caroline, who brought great delight to Ray’s life in his later years; sister Margot Dersham of St. Louis, Missouri; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family will welcome friends at a tribute and reception to be held at 4:00 p.m. on February 3, 2018 at the KU Alumni Center. Memorials may be made to the Ray Davis Scholarship, c/o KU Endowment Association.

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