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King Davis was the inaugural director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis and holder of the Mike Hogg Endowed Chair in urban affairs at the University of Texas at Austin from 2011 to 2014. Prior to this post, he served as Executive Director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health from 2003-2008. He held the Robert Lee Sutherland Endowed Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work from 2000 to 2008. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Texas at Austin in February 2001. King was a professor of Public Mental Health Policy and Planning at the Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond Virginia, from 1984-2000. From 1998-1999, he was the holder of the William and Camille Cosby Chair at Howard University, Washington D.C. Also in 1998, King was appointed to the Libra Chair in the School of Business and Public Policy at the University of Maine, and was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis in 1999. He taught at Norfolk State University School of Social Work from 1974 to 1984.
King was awarded the Ph.D. from the Florence G. Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in 1971. His doctoral work focused on the linkages between fund raising, non-profit organizations, and communities of color. He holds the masters' and bachelor's degrees in social work (concentration in mental health) from California State University in Fresno California. King's professional background and experiences are varied. He is a former Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services. King was appointed Commissioner by L. Douglas Wilder, Governor of Virginia, and served from 1990 to 1994. As Commissioner he held responsibility for executive leadership and management of a statewide behavioral health care system, comprised of 17 hospital facilities and 40 community service agencies.
King has served on a number of local, state, and national boards and commissions. He has written and published numerous articles, and reports on mental health, managed health care, fund raising, and social justice. His book on The Color of Social Policy was published early in 2004. He currently serves on the National Advisory Committee for the Center for Mental Health Services. His research focuses on redesigning urban mental health services and capturing the historical data on mental health services for African Americans in 18th, 19th, and 20th century Virginia.