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Dr. John M. Davis Endowed Scholarship

Oklahoma City University received a $1 million gift in the summer of 2022 from an alumnus to fund scholarships for liberal arts majors.

John M. Davis, a psychologist and psychology professor at Texas State University, provided the $1 million gift to OCU to create the scholarship endowment. The scholarship will benefit students in the Petree College of Arts & Sciences majoring in psychology, biology, modern languages, chemistry, physics or religion. First-generation college students and students demonstrating financial need are prioritized for scholarship awards.

“This incredible gift will help generations of students who are intent on making positive impacts on our society,” OCU President Kenneth Evans said. “Dr. Davis, a lifelong learner himself, recognizes the importance of higher education, particularly in the arts and sciences. This gift is a testament to his love of seeking knowledge and his compassion to encourage others to do the same.”

Davis grew up on a farm in Oklahoma and attended public school in the small town of Yale. He received scholarships to OCU in 1962 as a freshman majoring in physics. As a sophomore he changed his major to biology, and as a junior, to psychology. Working full-time at the OCU School of Law library, he graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. He remained at OCU to complete a Master of Arts in teaching in 1967 while also studying German.

“Although I always loved learning, the wonderful faculty members and students at OCU greatly expanded my universe of interests, knowledge and aspirations,” Davis said. “I still reflect with fondness and gratitude on the impact that individual faculty members and students have had on my life. Without those influences I would likely not have pursued a Ph. D. in psychology nor experienced Germany as my second home.”

After earning his master’s degree, Davis moved to Germany in the fall of 1967 and accepted a faculty position teaching psychology at Schiller International University. While still at Schiller, he enrolled for one semester at the University of Heidelberg for further study of German language and literature. In 1968 he moved to Nuremberg and enrolled at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg to continue his study of German language and literature as well as psychology and mathematics.

Returning to the U.S., Davis enrolled in the psychology doctoral program at the University of Oklahoma in the fall of 1970, graduating in 1974 with a Ph.D. in experimental psychology.

Davis then accepted a tenure track position at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). Teaching a variety of courses and directing a productive research laboratory on interpersonal and inter-group relations, he advanced rapidly and achieved the rank of full professor in 1983. During his long career at Texas State, he has held several leadership positions in psychology, including secretary-general of the International Council of Psychologists, president of the Southwestern Psychological Association and president of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology. He was elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association and has received many other honors.

“Dr. Davis and his wife, Carol, believe that higher education should be accessible to deserving students regardless of their financial means,” said Amy Cataldi, dean of the Petree College of Arts & Sciences, professor of psychology and a first-generation college graduate. “I’m excited to award this scholarship to motivated students across this wide array of disciplines.”

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