Texas Tech University on Wednesday announced the single largest philanthropic donation received in the school’s history - and one of the largest investments in people and programs in an agricultural college in the country.
Gordon W. Davis, a Lubbock businessman who spent 10 years as an associate professor in the college, and his wife, Joyce, have given a $44 million donation to rename the Gordon W. Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources and further support a program he helped bring into the national spotlight.
The gift will fund three areas within the college, including a $25 million endowment that will directly benefit the college, and $4 million to be directed to establish the Gordon and Joyce Davis Endowment for Excellence in Meat and Food Science. The remaining $15 million gift from the Gordon W. Davis estate will benefit future educational efforts within the college.
In his remarks, Davis emotionally recalled teaching his last class at Texas Tech in the spring of 1990, remembering telling his students the importance of giving back.
“I think agriculture is a sleeping giant. We’re out here in West Texas - one of the great agriculture areas of the whole world. We have great alumni from all over the country, especially Texas, that love the college and love the education they got in agriculture at Texas Tech,” Davis said. “So why wouldn’t we want to do this and get it better and better and better? The sleeping giant gets realized and becomes one of the preeminent colleges of agricultural sciences in the world.”
To honor this generosity, Texas Tech is renaming the college the Gordon W. Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, said Tech President Lawrence Schovanec.
Schovanec recalled that, as a faculty member, Davis was very involved with students and helped develop the university's now legendary meat judging team.
But his impact well beyond that when he started his own business and remained connected to the university.
“Gordon is about winning and excellence, and because of his success as a businessman, he made a very significant investment,” Schovanec said. He laid out a very clear plan and vision for the excellence he wants us to strive for.”
Schovanec added that Davis has a deep connection with this university and with the agriculture industry. He said Tech is very blessed that he chose the university to be the school for this investment.
Schovanec said this donation will provide a tremendous resource to support students, academic programs and to enhance research.
“This is the largest single investment at one time - especially in the agriculture side - and it sends a message nationwide that Tech is going to compete at the very highest level,” Schovanec said.
Cindy Akers, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, said the college has maintained its culture and family atmosphere even as it's grown, and she thanked the Davis family for investing in them.
“We take that investment with honor, with pride and with the seriousness that it deserves, so, thank you on behalf of our college,” Akers said.
About Gordon W. Davis
Davis, who earned bachelor’s degrees in agriculture science and education from Washington State University and a doctorate in meat science from Texas A&M University, spent the early part of his career as an instructor and faculty member at several colleges, according to news release from Tech. He began as a high school instructor in the late 1960s and later was an instructor at Texas A&M while finishing his master’s and doctorate requirements. He then spent three years on the faculty at the University of Tennessee and 10 years at Texas Tech. In 1990, he left to enter the private sector.
During his time in academia, he coached two national champion meat judging teams, at Texas A&M in 1973 and Texas Tech in 1989 – that would be the first of what is now 16 meat judging national championships in Lubbock.
Recognizing a need for enhanced instructional material, in 1984 Davis entered the entrepreneurial world and established CEV Multimedia, which started out producing multimedia textbooks for curricula. Today, iCEV develops online curricula, instructional materials and certification testing in Career & Technical Education (CTE) for agricultural sciences; architecture, construction, transportation and manufacturing; business, marketing, finance, information technology and media; career exploration; family and consumer sciences; health science; law, public safety, correction and security; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Last month, West Texas A&M University in Canyon announced Davis pledged $3.75 million toward adding two new department chairs to WT's Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech ag college gets single-largest gift in school history