With his retirement this summer, Dr. Ron Davis is ending 51 years of service at SUNY Plattsburgh in a career that has shaped the region’s journalistic landscape and touched the hearts of hundreds and hundreds of students.
Davis began his journey to Plattsburgh in 1971, teaching in the English department, which he later chaired. Along with Al Montanaro, Davis founded the journalism program, which later moved to the communications department and today shares a home with the public relations program.
Known for his love of language, his deep understanding of grammar and word distinctions, and his passion for poetry, Davis will be best remembered by the generations of journalists he taught for his compassion and personal connections. Here are some of their words, as they wrote on Facebook upon learning of Davis’ retirement:
“I owe Dr. Davis so much. Without his patience when he showed me (how) to use Quark XPress in 1998, I would almost certainly never have landed my first job in journalism. I feel so lucky to count myself among the generations of students who have benefited from his wisdom and positive example.
— Andrew DeGrandpre, deputy national security editor at the Washington Post
“Congratulations Ron on a truly impactful career. You have helped shape so many journalists over the years and their work has made a difference in the world. I can’t believe it’s been 1985 since I stopped at your desk on graduation day to thank you for all you have done for me. There are still days at work where I refer to something you taught me in class all those years ago. decades. Thank you for all you have done for me and the journalistic community and may you have a wonderful retirement.
—Joe LoTemplio, Press-Republican editor
“Prof. Davis had a huge impact on my life during my time in Plattsburgh, and I appreciate that our relationship continues to grow. I spent many formative mornings attending office hours, discussing grammar , writing and design; hiking, literature and life. Professor Davis and Nora visited me during one of my early years in Washington, D.C. It meant a lot to have time with friendly faces.
— Maura Danehey, Head of Communications at Momentive
Davis has conducted more than 30 workshops for media professionals and served as an editorial coach at the Press-Republican. His connection to this journal is strong: more than half of the current newsroom staff are former Davis students.
In addition to his teaching, in recent years Davis has been busy completing four textbooks with co-authors Nora Davis and Thomas Montanaro in what he calls his “Density Diet” system. In his academic biography, Davis describes the system as “An innovative color-coded neurolinguistic study of the English language and its grammar…a revolutionary approach to writing and speaking clearly and concisely.”
So much more could be said about Davis’ rich life. He is a canoe marathon champion and was drafted to pitch for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians. In his biography, Davis writes that he enjoys kayaking, hiking, and playing tennis, as well as barbecues for his students.
We hope Davis has many more years of retirement hiking, kayaking and barbecuing. And as the deadline approaches, and we’re looking for the perfect word to finish that lede or the finishing touch to make a page design shine, we’ll be thinking of him.