Former dean of IT and Regents professor dies at 71

Davis expanded the U’s Chemical Engineering program.

Professor H. Theodore Davis, the former dean of the Institute of Technology and Regents professor, died May 17 of a heart attack. He was 71 . Davis began teaching at the University in 1963 in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and became head of the department in 1980. He is credited with developing the program into one of the nationâÄôs best, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988 . Davis was appointed dean of the Institute of Technology in 1995. As dean, he created the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the accompanying degree, developed the Digital Technology Center and fundraised to restore Walter Library and the Mechanical Engineering building. Davis served as dean of IT for nine years, making him the schoolâÄôs third-longest serving dean. Regents Professor Frank Bates was hired by Davis in 1989 and counts Davis as his closest friend in the department. âÄúHe had an unparalleled level of impact as dean of IT,âÄù said Bates , who is also head of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. University President Bob Bruininks lauded Davis in an e-mail statement. âÄúIn 1997, Ted was chosen by his peers to receive a University of Minnesota Regents Professorship, the finest testament we have to greatness,âÄù Bruininks said in the statement. Davis stepped down as dean of the Institute of Technology in 2004 and focused on Chemical Engineering research and teaching. Many of his colleagues recall his impact as a teacher and a mentor above all. âÄúHe advised almost 100 PhD students, and had a positive impact on people from around the world,âÄù said Bates. âÄúHe could talk to anybody and find common ground,âÄù said Karen Wolterstorff , associate to the dean at the Institute of Technology. Davis grew up in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and was the son of an apple farmer and a textile mill worker. âÄúHe did not come from a wealthy family,âÄù Wolterstorff said. âÄúHe was bright, and rose to prominence, but he never forgot where he came from.âÄù. In 2008, Davis was named director of the Biotechnology Department , furthering the study of renewable energy and biofuels. âÄúH. Ted Davis was an extraordinary scholar, a revered teacher and a sage leader who served the University of Minnesota and the field of chemical engineering and materials science with remarkable distinction,âÄù Bruininks said in the statement. DavisâÄôs research focused on the flow of fluids, and as author or coauthor of three textbooks and more than 500 papers he had an extensive interdisciplinary impact. Last year, Davis was inducted into the Minnesota Science and Technology Hall of Fame , an honor awarded to those whom have had a scientific impact that has been felt worldwide.