By Jillian Daley
Time is precious. Yet PSU College of Education (COE) Assistant Professor Alexander “Xander” Davies shared his hours unstintingly with students, faculty and staff.
Maybe that’s why Davies impacted so many people, even though he died so young. He passed away at age 35 on October 22 at his home.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family as well as his friends, students and colleagues in our community,” COE Dean Marvin Lynn says.
Soon after people learned of Davies’ passing, stirring comments from all of those whom he affected, especially his students, started flowing in to the university. Davies began teaching in the COE’s Curriculum and Instruction Department in fall, 2018.
Ross Faulkenberg, an Edison High School teacher and COE Master of Special Education student, was among those who offered a message about the impact Davies had on his life, speaking directly to the late faculty member.
“Your warmth and positive light will always stick with me,” says Faulkenberg, who took a class with Davies on strategies for working with diverse students this past spring. “You are such a breath of bright, fresh air that inspires and welcomes anyone who crosses your path.”
Davies earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Northern Iowa before obtaining his Ph.D. at the University of Central Florida in 2018. He joined PSU shortly afterward, specializing in English as a Second Language (ESOL) and elementary education.
“He was a promising researcher, teacher and servant leader,” Lynn says. “He was a beloved professor and a well-respected colleague. Although he had been teaching at PSU for only a couple years, his passion for teaching future teachers came through in his work every day.”
Curriculum & Instruction Chair Will Parnell says that Davies would often swing by his office to chat or to confer about serious conversations he’d had in class, including one discussion about the institutional and structural racism some students had experienced in K–12 schools.
“He was focused on family involvement and community engagement in K–12 schools right at the time we met,” Parnell says. “As well, he had a love for working with people who wished to be educators foregrounding equity, dual-language and social justice in classrooms, schools and communities.”
Parnell says Davies relished other languages and cultures, traveling recently to Egypt and Cambodia. Davies wrote his dissertation about an elementary school in its first year of transitioning to a dual language program. Davies used the paper as an opportunity to thank teachers who work in what he called “one of the most difficult professions.”Continue reading