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A Philanthropic Heart



Dr. John M. Davis and his wife, Carol, live a self-declared simple life on a farm and ranch near San Marcos, Texas.

“I’ve always lived frugally,” Davis said when reflecting on his life and career, “and in our later years, Carol and I have been amazed with what we’ve achieved through saving and investing. That has allowed us to give back to things we care about.”

Davis, who recently retired from a 50-year career in fac­ulty and leadership positions at Texas State University, has established the Dr. John M. Davis Endowed Scholarship at OCU through a $1 million gift to the university. The schol­arship will support students in the Petree College of Arts and Sciences, with first generation students and students demonstrating financial need prioritized for the award.

Davis grew up the oldest of five children on a farm near the small town of Yale, Oklahoma. When he was 12, his par­ents gave him a heifer calf to start his own small cattle herd, to learn basic business management (income, expenses, profit, loss), and to begin saving and investing for college. Those lessons stuck. Davis was the first in his family to go to a four-year college, and he credits his mother with encour­aging him to attend OCU. “When applying for college, I knew I needed scholarships, and I was amazed when the OCU rep­resentative came to my high school graduation to present an OCU scholarship to me,” Davis said.

Davis received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from OCU, an experience that broadened his understanding of the world and opened many doors. After spending three years studying and teaching in Germany, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in experimental psychology from the University of Oklahoma. In 1974, he accepted a tenure-track position at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State Univer­sity). He held various faculty and leadership positions there until his recent retirement.

Davis met his wife, Carol, in Hong Kong in 1980 while on sabbatical from Texas State to conduct research on stress and coping with Vietnamese Boat People in a U.N. refugee camp. Carol, a Canadian, was teaching English in another U.N. refugee camp. They met in an elevator on the bottom floor, and they remember talking the entire way up to the top. They have been married since 1985.

When asked what advice he would pass along to younger generations, Davis likes to remind young people to begin saving early. “Money can dribble away a little at a time. If you save money by living frugally, if you regularly invest even a little and remember that life is about people and relation­ships, not things, you too may surprise yourself with the impact you can have on others.”

“Carol and I try to live a life of purpose with Christian faith, values and beliefs. We live by the rule of loving your neighbor as yourself, and we feel very blessed to be able to make a difference at OCU.”

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