Remembering Patrick D. Walker

A Life of Purpose and Meaning

Patrick D. Walker, MBA, J.D.

By Acting Dean Laura Bryan

The University of Kentucky has suffered a profoundly sad loss of a vibrant, kind, and engaging member of our community and Honors family. Patrick D. Walker, the inaugural Ruth Jones Lewis Faculty Scholar in Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, an endowed position in the Lewis Honors College, passed away on June 17, 2021, in Lexington, KY. Patrick was also a faculty affiliate of UK African American and Africana Studies, Center for Equality and Social Justice, and the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise (IFSE). He graduated from Hampton University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, earned a Master of Business Administration from the Hampton University School of Business, and received his Juris Doctor degree from the Regent University School of Law, where he received the Honorable Richard B. Kellan Professionalism Award for Achievement and Character. 

Patrick was a first-generation HBCU graduate and he often shared his appreciation for how his grandparents raised and inspired him. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, from an early age he was driven to intentionally live a life of purpose and meaning by uplifting those around him and through serving and connecting people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Service was deeply embedded in Patrick and guided who he was as a person and member of society. A lifelong friend,  Alton Tatman, Jr., shared, “I am deeply saddened by this loss. Twenty-seven years, I will have in my heart and memories until I see him again. I will miss Patrick for the rest of my life. He was my person, my ear, my balance.”

For over 15 years, Patrick served as an award-winning Professor of Business Law and Management at universities in St. Louis, Missouri, and Hampton Roads, Virginia, where he inspired students, impacted colleagues, and activated communities. Amy Gibson, a colleague from a former institution and friend, said of Patrick, “Many words could be used to describe Patrick Walker. But only one word really matters-- love. He loved with all his heart. He was a light who radiated brightly in a dark world yet remained grounded as the salt of the earth. Most importantly, he was my friend and he is beloved.”

Patrick joined the faculty of the Lewis Honors College in 2019 and it was quickly apparent that Patrick was an EXTRAordinary person and an authentic leader, who was guided by his integrity. Everyone knew when Patrick entered the building. Without hesitation, he became a vital and valuable member of the UK community through his exemplary teaching and mentoring of students as well as a commitment to cultivating relationships within UK, throughout Lexington, and beyond. Christian Brady, the Inaugural T. W. Lewis Dean of the Lewis Honors College who hired Patrick, saw his unique abilities and potential for campus-wide impact.

“Patrick had a rare combination of keen intellectual engagement with practical application and had a compassionate demeanor even as he was a challenging teacher and mentor,” Brady said. “He made an immediate impact, not just in the Lewis Honors College, but across the UK campus. Immediately reaching out and engaging with leaders across campus and getting students involved in thinking entrepreneurially about their work and their lives.”

Patrick loved supporting and inspiring the success of all students. Throughout his academic career, he taught courses that examined entrepreneurship, free enterprise, business diversity, business ethics, and conscious capitalism from legal, managerial, and interdisciplinary perspectives. In the Lewis Honors College, he taught “Awakening the S.O.U.L. of Free Enterprise,” “Law, Ethics, and Entrepreneurship,” and “The New C.E.O.: Chief Entrepreneurial Officer.” Lewis Honors College Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Czarena Crofcheck spoke of Patrick’s ability to bring community into the classroom, “He had created opportunities for Lewis students to directly engage with Lexington’s many entrepreneurial innovators, forging a direct link between our undergraduates and their future internships and strategies for success. Patrick was an enthusiastic member of the Lewis faculty, bringing positivity and innovating ideas.”

Patrick’s teaching was hallmarked by high-impact experiential learning.  He often organized interdisciplinary student teams and partnered them with companies and organizations in the community. Through this practice, Patrick taught students how they could use their varying skillsets to offer creative solutions to real-world business challenges. In each course, he taught students to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, which he defined as embracing fear, risk, uncomfortability, innovation, and team chemistry, coined by Patrick as EM=e(F.R.U.I.T.)©.

Every day, we all stood witness to Patrick’s generous spirit, as his office overflowed with students. During this past year, for example, Patrick was the advisor for the student-run media initiative, “No Limits Productions,” and mentored students to produce Breaking the Boundary Podcast, which emphasizes the need to shift the focus of unsolved global issues to a solution-oriented approach. In the classroom, Patrick had students submit their business plan to a national competition hosted by the Small Business Institute (SBI), where they placed third in the nation in the “Project of the Year, Specialized Case Analysis” category. In his honor, Andrew Holt, President of the SBI, recently announced the establishment of the SBI’s Patrick Walker Student Consulting/Experiential Learning Project of the Year Award. Aisley Stuebs, a student in Patrick’s class and member of that team credits Patrick for both personal and academic growth. 

"During the time I was honored to have as one of his students, Dr. Walker's mentorship, which inspired, encouraged, and challenged me to become a more fearless version of myself," Stuebs said. "Because of Dr. Walker's persistent belief in the potential of his students and his heart for bettering his community, I will continue to chase after my dreams, embrace an entrepreneurial mindset, and serve those around me as part of his legacy."

Patrick’s accomplishments include numerous peer-reviewed publications, conference proceedings, conference presentations, and workshops. In 2020, he gave a professional presentation titled, “The UKYCEO Workout: Awakening the S.O.U.L. of Rural and Urban Entrepreneurship.” Recently, Patrick was awarded a research grant titled, “The Effect of  COVID-19 on African American and Minority Participation in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: A Pilot Study of Lexington/Fayette County Kentucky” from IFSE of the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics. Additionally, Patrick was Co-Founder and Chief Entrepreneurial Officer of a consulting firm, where he conducted training and evaluations for local and national organizations and Fortune 500 companies. For his research and consulting, Patrick co-created with partners to design equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems and build sustainable multi-paths forward for allies of conscience capitalism and free enterprise who desired to use their power, platforms, and privilege to increase the success and significance of African American and minority-owned businesses. He was a master of networking, bringing together small business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations from various backgrounds to collaborate. Charles Courtemanche, Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the ISFE worked with Patrick on a variety of projects and initiatives during his time at UK.

“It is difficult to put into words how much Patrick meant to the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise during his two years as an affiliate. He was an endless source of ideas and enthusiasm, and it was a great privilege to support his initiatives that aimed to foster an entrepreneurial mindset among UK students and the development of African-American-owned businesses,” Courtemanche said. “He was also the driving force behind a series of events – jointly sponsored by Lewis, ISFE, and other university partners – on free enterprise and racial inequality. More personally, I will deeply miss Patrick’s unwavering positive energy, encouragement, and support.”    

Patrick’s unwavering dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion was known far and wide as he integrated this dedication throughout his teaching, scholarly activities, consulting and service. He believed that “every individual deserves a chance and champion to help them live up to their fullest potential.” Tara Tuttle, Lewis Honors College faculty colleague and assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion said of her work with Patrick, “His passion for affirming underrepresented students and fostering collaboration was contagious. He understood the importance of building up students who have been underestimated and discriminated against. Patrick was frank about inequity and injustice, and he ensured our students learned crucial but often neglected Black histories of contributions to the building of the nation. Patrick was ever-optimistic and action-oriented, and every day he catalyzed students to dream bigger dreams for themselves.”

Patrick worked tirelessly to connect those around him and intentionally built bridges where they did not exist. He, in equal part, challenged and inspired each and every person in his life. He also continually challenged himself, evidenced by his excitement after enrolling in a UK doctoral program this past academic year. Professor and Chair of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation in the UK College of Education Kelly Bradley worked with Patrick in this capacity and shared, “Quickly, he had become an impactful and energetic member of our College of Education family.” 

As many know, Patrick exuded joy through sharing his personal interests and passions. We frequently heard of his Whitney Houston fanaticism and he made sure that every faculty and staff member received a video-clip serenade of “Happy Birthday” from her on their special day. He also was eager to share his adoration and expertise of the Marvel Universe, reflected by posters in his office and his course titled“Batman: The Caped Entrepreneur.”

As we mourn the loss of Patrick D. Walker, we want to ensure that his legacy of service continues. The Patrick Douglas Walker Scholarship has been established for first-generation students who are members of underrepresented racial or ethnic groups in his memory at the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College. Gifts may be sent to UK Philanthropy, P.O. Box 23552, Lexington, KY  40523, Attention: Patrick Douglas Walker Scholarship. You may also contact the Lewis Honors College at 859-319-6886. To make an online gift to the scholarship, please follow these steps:

• Visit https://uky.networkforgood.com/causes/4739-lewis-honors-college

• Click on the link that says "Patrick Douglas Walker Scholarship"

• Fill in amount you wish to give

• Select Memorial in the drop-down menu under "Honor or remember someone with your gift." 

• Fill in Patrick Douglas Walker under "Whom do you want to recognize?"

 

Patrick’s Homegoing Service will occur on Friday July 2, 2021 at 2:00 pm at Russell Funeral Home Chapel, 822 Carl Russell Blvd, Winston Salem, NC 27101. His obituary is available here: https://www.russellfuneralservice.com/obituary/patrick-walker

In August, after students have returned to campus, A Celebration of Patrick D. Walker’s Life for the University of Kentucky, the Lewis Honors College, and Lexington communities will be held on August 25 at 4 p.m. in the UK Gatton Student Center Worsham Theater. 

If you would like to send a card or note to Patrick’s family, you may provide it in a sealed envelope and drop it off in the lobby or dean’s office in the Lewis Honors College. At the request of the family, they will be sent directly to Patrick’s mother.

 

Patrick Walker with students from his "The New C.E.O.: Chief Entrepreneurial Officer" course.

Patrick Walker engaging with students in the Lewis Honors College Scholars Lounge.