Phil Davis resigns after 17-year term

By Gabe Hewitt/[email protected]
Media Editor

(Photo: MCTC Marketing and Communications)
(Photo: MCTC Marketing and Communications)

Phil Davis officially left his presidency at MCTC on Aug. 8 to accept positions as Associate Vice Chancellor and Managing Director of the Campus Service Cooperative for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).

He announced in an email to faculty and staff in May that Chancellor Steve Rosenstone had offered him the positions and that he would be resigning from his position after 17 years.

Davis was appointed president by the MnSCU Board of Trustees in 1998 in the middle of a merger between Minneapolis Community College (MCC) and Minneapolis Technical College (MTC). He was entailed with the task of combining two college’s academic programs.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose,” Davis said.

By the work of a handful of topic-specific focus groups, Davis and his administration were able to merge the two colleges into what MCTC is today. He names it as one of the most difficult times in the college’s storied history.

One of Davis’ proudest accomplishments came early after the merger when he created the Health Careers Partnership. The partnership helped train and place MCTC students in several Twin City hospitals. More than 1,000 students participated in the program and it gained the reputation of being one of the most successful programs of its kind in the country. In 2005, the College received a Bellweather Award, which recognizes outstanding and innovative programs nationally, for the program’s success.

Davis is credited for helping bring the Power of YOU program to MCTC in 2006. The program is offered to high school seniors and covers the cost of classes up to 72 credits. Since its inception, the number of high school students of color from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to enroll at MCTC has doubled. Davis, alongside Metropolitan State University and St. Paul College have raised over six million dollars in private donations to support the program.

Davis’ tenure was marred by several controversies. His acceptance of a recommendation to end the college’s successful basketball program in 2010 wasn’t taken lightly by students or the community. In 2012, the college’s faculty union held up a vote of “no confidence” against him, stating that they didn’t trust him to make decisions. Davis called the vote “disappointing” in a statement released at that time. During his last year as president, Davis reprimanded English professor Shannon Gibney after two of her students filed a discrimination complaint against her. The incident gained national attention from many audiences. He rescinded that reprimand in May.

Davis said he will miss being able to walk out of his office and mingle with students. He’ll also miss the staff and faculty he won’t be able to see everyday.

“I have an extraordinary set of colleagues here,” he said.

As Managing Director of Campus Service Cooperative, he’ll be organizing campus initiatives and still be working with students. He compared the facilitating responsibilities he’ll have to the feeling of a child in a candy store.

Davis was succeeded by Interim President Avellino Mlls-Novoa. Davis’ advice for him is to seek and accept as much help as he can get.

“I feel good about what we have accomplished for our students and the city of Minneapolis during my tenure as president,” he said. “I’m eager to continue the partnership work that I love to do.”