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The Ozark Visitor

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News from Hard Work U.®

Valorie Coleman
Public Relations Director
College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, MO 65726
Office: (417) 690-2212

August 02, 2017

College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis awarded lifetime achievement award by CASE

Dr. Davis receives Lifetime Achievement AwardDr. Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks, receives the 2017 E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Pictured with Davis are Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, chancellor of the University of Richmond, and Dr. Sue Head, College of the Ozarks vice president of cultural affairs and dean of character education.

Dr. Jerry C. Davis dines with students at the Pearl Rogers Dining Center at College of the Ozarks.

Dr. Jerry C. Davis visits with students at the newly dedicated Missouri Gold Star Families Memorial at Patriots Park on the College of the Ozarks campus.

Davis to celebrate 40 years as a college president

POINT LOOKOUT, MO.—Dr. Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks, was presented with the 2017 E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education on July 17. CASE recognized award recipients at a luncheon in conjunction with the CASE Summit for Leaders in Advancement in San Francisco.

The award honors individuals who have made a significant and lasting impact on the field of institutional advancement through their professional accomplishments and who have earned the respect and admiration of their professional colleagues. It is one of six Distinguished Service Awards presented by CASE each year.

With 40 years of service, Davis is one of the longest serving college presidents in the United States. Throughout his career as an institutional leader, he has made a significant impact on the field of advancement, especially in fundraising. And during his nearly 30 years at College of the Ozarks, he has transformed the College into a debt-free institution.

Davis came to College of the Ozarks as president in 1988. He led the transformation of the institution and returned the College to its original mission and vision. The College has operated with no debt since 1989, and the endowment has grown substantially.

All students work on campus. No tuition is paid, and debt is discouraged as no federal or state loans are used.

He has overseen more than 14 construction projects, including two new state-of-the-art residence halls; The Keeter Center, an award-winning lodging, dining, and conference facility; The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial; and the Lest We Forget 9/11 Memorial. The Missouri Gold Star Families Memorial was completed this spring, the first of its kind in the state.

In 2009, he established the College of the Ozarks Patriotic Education Travel Program, which has so far paired 324 students with 154 war Veterans for trips to battlefields around the world where the Veterans once fought, at no cost to the participants.

“Dr. Davis has earned the respect and admiration of his professional colleagues by being tough as nails, consistent in staying the course, and by simply being one of the most hard-working administrators in the nation,” said Dr. Sue Head, vice president for cultural affairs and dean of character education. “His transformational leadership has taken College of the Ozarks from reliance on the daily mail to get by to a debt-free, conservatively invested, and thriving institution in the middle of America.”

More about Dr. Jerry C. Davis

Davis was named as president of Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes, Kentucky) at the age of 33 in 1977 and served until 1988. He presided over the transition of the institution from a two-year to four-year status and tripled the enrollment. Under his leadership, Alice Lloyd raised $18 million, built 15 buildings, and realized a capital asset growth of 253 percent—from $4.7 million to $16.8 million.

Davis has received many awards and accolades for his service, not only to his specific institutions, but in the realm of higher education at large. He has been active at multiple levels of both the Southern and North Central Accrediting Agencies, serving on more than 50 accreditation teams and chairing over half of them. He has served two terms as president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities and in 2014 was designated as an “Icon of Education” by the Kansas City business magazine, Ingram’s. For many years, he has served as a civilian trustee of the Marine Military Academy and has been a featured speaker at the United States Air Force Academy and the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 2004, Davis received the Missourian Award, one of the state’s highest honors.

Davis has been the editor and author of numerous books, including A Guide to Foundations of the Southeast (Volumes I-IV), Miracle on Caney Creek, Miracle in the Ozarks, and The Four Generals of Hard Work U.

He and the College have received many other recognitions, such as the 2015 National Freedom Award, the highest honor given by the United States Department of Defense to employers for support of National Guard and Reserve employees. The Keeter Center was ranked the No. 1 Top Small Hotel in the U.S. by TripAdvisor for 2016, a great accolade for the College’s largest work station.

Under his watchful eye, College of the Ozarks has been noted for its academic excellence, character development, and affordability by several national publications including The Princeton Review Best 373 Colleges, The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, and Money Magazine. The College has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and on FOX News Network, CBS, ABC, and various national radio networks. U.S. News & World Report has ranked College of the Ozarks a top college in the Midwest since 1989.

Strong moral character

Davis was born in a small town in Georgia in 1943. He was the middle of three children who endured a tumultuous childhood, and at the age of five, was taken in by his grandparents who became his legal guardians. His life story became public a few years ago when Guideposts magazine published, “From Troubled Teen to College President: The remarkable story of a teenage runaway who discovers what he’s running toward.” At age 16, he was sent to the Mt. Berry School for Boys, a self-help boarding school in North Georgia. Faith, hope, and hard work shaped his life and ultimately resulted in him becoming one of the longest serving college presidents in the United States. He and his wife, Shirley, have been married 50 years, and they have three children and nine grandchildren.

Davis earned a Ph.D. degree from Ohio State University, 1970; an M.S. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1967; and a B.S. degree in biology from Mars Hill University in North Carolina, 1965. He also attended Truett-McConnell Jr. College in Cleveland, Georgia, from 1961-63.

In 1961, Davis received his high school diploma, with honors, from the Mount Berry School for Boys in Mount Berry, Georgia. In his early years, he attended Hartwell Elementary in Hartwell, Georgia, and Villa Rica High School in Villa Rica, Georgia.

“He has created a legacy not only in the world of higher education, but he provides an example of faith and hard work for his family and friends,” Head said. “He broke cycles, defied the norm, and blazed a trail of success that any young person in this country would be honored to follow. He does not expect the young people of College of the Ozarks to traverse a path he has not already dug and paved with his own two hands. This is the essence of true leadership.”

For additional information, contact Public Relations Director Valorie Coleman at (417) 690-2212.

About College of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks is a Christian, liberal arts college located on a 1,000-acre campus in Point Lookout, Missouri. Christian values, hard work, and financial responsibility comprise the fundamental building blocks of the “Hard Work U.” experience. The College earns numerous accolades yearly, including being named the #1 Best Value College in the Midwest for 2015 by “U.S. News & World Report.”  

The Keeter Center—the College’s upscale lodge, restaurant, and conference facility—was ranked the No. 1 Top Small Hotel in the U.S. by TripAdvisor for 2016. It features fine dining, historic lodging, and meeting rooms. With more than 350 student workers, it is the largest work station on the College of the Ozarks campus.

To achieve its vision, College of the Ozarks pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic and cultural goals. These goals are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, begun in fall 2012 for high school students, and the S. Truett Cathy Lower School, opened in fall 2014 to K-sixth grade students. Seventh and eighth grades were added in fall 2015, completing the K-college model. For information, call the public relations office at (417) 690-2212 or visit Follow College of the Ozarks at or on Twitter @CofOHardWorkU.

About CASE

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.

CASE was founded in 1974 and maintains headquarters in Washington, D.C., with offices in London (CASE Europe, 1994), Singapore (CASE Asia-Pacific, 2007) and Mexico City (CASE Latin America, 2011).

Today, CASE’s membership includes more than 3,670 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in more than 80 countries around the globe. This makes CASE one of the world’s largest nonprofit educational associations in terms of institutional membership. CASE serves more than 81,000 advancement practitioners on the staffs of its member institutions and has more than 17,000 professional members on its roster.

To fulfill their missions and to meet both individual and societal needs, colleges, universities and independent schools rely on—and therefore must foster—the good will, active involvement, informed advocacy and enduring support of alumni, donors, prospective students, parents, government officials, community leaders, corporate executives, foundation officers and other external constituencies.

CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with all of these constituencies by providing relevant research, supporting growth in the profession and fostering support of education. CASE also offers a variety of advancement products and services, provides standards and an ethical framework for the profession and works with other organizations to respond to public issues of concern while promoting the importance of education worldwide.


08.02.17 – Valorie Coleman


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