Dr. Kenneth Walker
Third President (1974 – 1988)
The Board of Trustees named Dr. Kenneth P. Walker as Navarro’s third president, and he assumed that position on March 1, 1974. A native of Greenville, Texas, Walker received a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and a M.A. from East Texas State University. In addition, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Walker served in the United States Air Force from 1955 to 1958 before he began his professional career as a political science instructor at Odessa College, after which he served as a dean, vice president, and vice chancellor at various institutions.
The Walker Administration marked a change in direction for the college. The first indication of the new direction came with the changing of the institution’s name from Navarro Junior College to simply Navarro College. One rather unique concept that Dr. Walker explored was the possibility of expanding Navarro into a 4-year community college. Plans called for adding the upper division but financed with local funds rather than state funding. Consequently, bad timing and poor economic conditions had an impact on the proposal. It never gained significant support from state officials who were investigating the possibility of closing colleges and universities.
Despite the failed proposal, Dr. Walker’s leadership earned recognition and honors for himself and for the college. In 1977, the Association of Community College Trustees presented Walker with the Marie Y. Martin Professional Educator Award as the most outstanding community college president in the United States. The following year, the Corsicana Chamber of Commerce named him the recipient of the K. Wolens Distinguished Service Award. In 1982, Dr. Walker received the Michael Bennett Distinguished President’s Award for outstanding service to Phi Theta Kappa. In addition, he was named to the national PTK Board of Directors.
The Walker Administration had been responsible for many changes at Navarro College. The mission of the college had been modified to provide expanded education opportunities to more students in the college service area. Enrollment had increased significantly, and the renovation of existing buildings and the construction of new ones produced a strikingly attractive campus. Dr. Walker introduced some innovative ideas, not only for the operation of Navarro but for community college education in general.
After serving as Navarro College President for 14 years, he resigned in 1988 to accept the presidency of Oklahoma City Community College.