Elizabeth Davenport

Elizabeth Davenport

Alabama State University Department of Educational Leadership

Elizabeth Davenport, the 2020 NEA Higher Educator of the Year, is a professor in Alabama State University’s Department of Educational Leadership, where she teaches courses such as “Constitutional Law and Education,” and guides educators through the Ed.D. and Ph.D. process. Previously, she taught at Florida A&M University’s Department of Educational Leadership, where she also served as president of the United Faculty of Florida-FAMU chapter, defending the rights of her colleagues and negotiating salary increases for every year of her presidency. When she moved to Alabama State, she got her entire wing to join the Alabama Education Association.

For the entirety of her career in higher education, Davenport, who attended the nation’s most elite universities, including University of Michigan and New York University, has chosen to teach at historically Black colleges or universities (HBCUs) or other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). “I think it’s important to mentor the next generation, whether they’re going to be teachers or lawyers, or whatever,” says Davenport.

For her part, Davenport has been both — a teacher and a lawyer. She holds five advanced degrees, including a law degree, three master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. in curriculum, teaching and educational policy.

“I still like learning new things!” she says.

Looking back across her career, which now spans five decades, Davenport says the work that has given her the most pride has been the mentorship of dozens of women in her Ph.D. programs. She calls these educational doctoral candidates her “Baby Docs,” and, with her care and nurturing attention, they have gone on to become assistant professors, K12 administrators, instructional designers and educational consultants across the nation. “The relationships with these women have been very strong. I think we’ve nurtured each other,” she says.