Hampton T. Davey Jr., 61, St. Mary's professor who helped transform school

May 15, 2000|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

Hampton Thompson "Red" Davey Jr., a history and social science professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland, died Tuesday of lung cancer at his home in California, Md. He was 61.

Dr. Davey had been on a leave of absence for about a year because of illness.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Davey, a popular professor with an encyclopedic memory, helped transform St. Mary's from a "party school" to a college known for its academics, said Marc Apter, spokesman for the college.

"Red was critical during the college's rise from a regular college known for being scholarly and fun to one that was notably scholarly," said Jane Margaret O'Brien, president of St. Mary's since 1996. She attributed much of that to his "uncanny political instinct."

"He played a leading role in working with the Maryland state legislature to have them officially declare a change in the status of the college," Mr. Apter said.

Last year, U.S. News and World Report magazine rated the 1,600-student school the No. 1 public national liberal arts college, Mr. Apter said.

At St. Mary's, Dr. Davey taught Indian politics -- he had a lifelong fascination with India -- American politics and comparative politics, Dr. O'Brien said.

He also was active in university politics. He was a member of the faculty senate for three decades and the group's president from 1977 to 1979, Dr. O'Brien said. He was head of the division of history and social science for more than 10 years, from 1984 to 1993 and from 1996 to 1999, and chairman of the department of political science from 1993 to 1998.

Dr. Davey was also a member of the Faculty Advisory Committee to the Maryland Higher Education Commission from 1987 to 1999 and served as committee chairman from 1987 to 1992 and from 1996 to 1999.

But his first love was teaching.

"Red was very much of the classroom," Dr. O'Brien said. "He had a following among students that bordered on worship."

Born in Girard, Ohio, Dr. Davey received bachelor's and master's degrees from Ohio University and his doctorate in political science in 1969 from the University of California at Los Angeles. He taught at Vanderbilt University and the University of Missouri at St. Louis before going to St. Mary's in 1973.

In his spare time, Dr. Davey liked to read, said John Hyle, who is engaged to one of Dr. Davey's daughters. Mr. Hyle said he could speak "almost ad nauseam" about practically any topic.

"I'd say ad nauseam except that it was always interesting," Mr. Hyle said.

Services for Dr. Davey were held yesterday.

Dr. Davey is survived by his wife of 34 years, Jan Yvonne Davey; and two daughters, Audrey Elizabeth Davey of Towson and Jennifer Davey of San Diego.

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