In Memoriam

Dr. Kathryn Anne Davis

Dr. Kathryn Anne Davis passed away on Sunday, August 16, 2020.  She was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on December 15, 1949, to Floyd Edward Davis Sr. and Marian Jernigan.  She was preceded in death by her parents.  She is survived by five siblings, including Karyl Marlow, Floyd Davis Jr., Karla Nyikes, Karyn Gandenberger, and Kenneth Davis, and numerous nieces and nephews.  Dr. Davis was an accomplished, innovative, and widely respected scholar whose work contributed to the educational and policy decisions made on behalf of language minority students.  She attended Eastern Michigan University, where she earned a B.A. degree in English and a teaching credential. She earned a masters degree in Linguistics at the University of Leeds and a PhD in Education at Stanford University.  As a high school teacher and university English instructor, she taught in the U.S., Luxembourg, and China. She began her career as a university professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware.  She joined the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mãnoa in 1992 where in addition to teaching, she directed the Center for Second Language Research and received several prestigious grants, including two Fulbright Fellowships. Her scholarship and teaching focused on the sociopolitical nature of language policies and language practices, particularly as it relates to enhancing the rights of language minority populations.  She published books, journal articles and chapters focused on multilingualism, language and gender, indigenous and immigrant language education, and transformative schooling.  She was among the first scholars to advocate for and articulate an engaged perspective on language policy and practice that is critical, collaborative and led by members of minority communities.  Dr. Davis is beloved by her many students who are continuing her work as they promote the rights of language minority populations throughout the world.  She retired from the University of Hawai‘i in 2017.

An intimate celebration of her life will take place in the fall.  Family and friends ask that donations in her memory be made to the UH Mānoa Mauiakama Summer Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (contact: or the Dolores Huerta Foundation (

In closing, the following is a tribute to Dr. Davis, written by Laiana Wong, who benefitted greatly from her mentoring while he was a junior faculty member at the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Luʻuluʻu Mānoa i ka ua nui
Welo ke aloha i ka ʻōnohi
Aia ka helena o ka hoapili
Ke ala o ke kino o ka hoʻi ʻole mai
Aloha ē! Aloha ē!