Dr. William R. “Randy” Davenport was president of Campbellsville College from 1969 to 1988.
Davenport served Campbellsville College (now Campbellsville University) during one of “the college’s most difficult times,” according to the university’s history book written by the late Dr. J. Chester Badgett.
The history book said: “He inherited a tremendous debt when enrollments were falling, with fewer military personnel attending under the G.I. bill, and fewer students graduating from high school.”
“The trustees recognized that he had rendered invaluable service to the college, and that at his retirement the college was a thriving institution in a much-improved financial state,” Badgett wrote.
Davenport retired Dec. 31, 1988, when he had concerns with his health. He felt he had done what he had hoped to achieve which was “a college with strong academic quality possessing the vital margin of an equally strong evangelical Christian orientation and commitment,” he said in the history book of Campbellsville University.
He was followed by Dr. Kenneth W. Winters in 1988 who served until 1999.
When Dr. James E. Jones came to Campbellsville from Alabama in 1981 as pastor of Campbellsville Baptist Church, he met Davenport. They became prayer partners immediately.
“Dr. Davenport was one of the most honest men I have ever met,” Jones, who serves on the university’s Board of Trustees, said.
“He would come to my office every Tuesday morning, and we would get down on our knees and pray for the college,” he said.
Davenport was a strong supporter of The Gideons, serving from 1954 until his death. He served as the group’s international president.
In the line of CU presidents, he played a key role in the life and development of the college. He was joined by his wife, Janet, and their family as they served the college for 19 years.
Davenport was born in Pineville, Mo., and attended elementary and secondary schools in Missouri. He earned an A.B. degree in Chemistry from the University of Louisville; a M.S. in Science Education from the University of Arkansas; and his Ed.D. in Administration and Supervision from the University of Arkansas.
He began his academic career teaching science and serving as a principal. He was instructor in education at the University of Arkansas; associate professor of education and director of student teaching at Butler University in Indianapolis; professor of education and chairman of the Department of Education at the University of Michigan at Flint; and a consultant on television instruction with Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction.
He served as a reserve in the United States Navy and belonged to various community and church activities. He belonged to Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Delta Kappa and was a member of Kiwanis International, past chairman of the Council of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU) and various positions with the Gideons International and locally.
Davenport, who died Feb. 10, 2021, is survived by his wife, Janet; four children, three of whom graduated from Campbellsville College, and are: Marty Davenport (’74) of New Concord, Ky.; Mary Davenport (’76), of Louisville, Susan Davenport (’79) of Carbondale, Ill., and Liz Wilson of Louisville; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Noah and Braeden Stewart and William Stovall. Two of the grandchildren, Julie Davenport (’06) and Ben Stewart (’04) graduated from Campbellsville as well as Sue Davenport (’74), wife of Marty Davenport. The other five grandchildren are: BJ, Jon and Mike Wilson, Jenny Davenport and Abbie Stovall.