June 12, 2017
College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis awarded lifetime achievement award by CASEDr. Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks, is announced recipient of the 2017 E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Dr. Jerry C. Davis greets students at the College of the Ozarks laboratory school, School of the Ozarks, during an end-of-the-year gathering.
President Jerry C. Davis visits with students at the newly dedicated Missouri Gold Star Families Memorial at Patriots Park on the College campus.
Students visit with President Jerry C. Davis in the Pearl Rogers Dining Hall at College of the Ozarks.
Davis to celebrate 40 years as a college president
POINT LOOKOUT, MO.—Dr. Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks, has been announced as the recipient of the 2017 E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 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.
CASE will recognize award recipients at a luncheon on Monday, July 17, in conjunction with the CASE Summit for Leaders in Advancement in San Francisco. CASE is a professional association serving educational institutions and advancement professionals. 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.
With 40 years of service, Davis is one of the longest serving college presidents in the United States. He served as president of Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky from 1977 to 1988 and currently serves as president of College of the Ozarks. Throughout his career as an institutional leader, Davis has made a significant impact on the field of advancement, especially in fundraising. 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. And during his nearly 30 years at College of the Ozarks, he has transformed the College into a debt-free institution with a $500 million endowment. 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. He makes an impact on this nation by making a way for students who would not otherwise be able to attend college. This fact alone is enough to make colleagues—along with students, community members, parents, and donors—take notice. They honor and respect him out of hearts of gratitude.”
Davis is an expert in the development field, which is verified by what has happened to the College of the Ozarks endowment during his tenure. Since 1988, the endowment market value for College of the Ozarks has grown from $90 million to $500 million. He has raised in excess of $400 million.
“There may be curiosity regarding how Davis raises this kind of money,” said Rick Hughes, vice president for vocational programs and chief financial officer. “The process begins with a laser focus on the College’s mission, followed by leveraging the greatest distinguishing feature of the College—the Work Education Program—whereby students work for their education at on-campus jobs, rather than paying for it. That concept—Hard Work U.—is a highly effective marketing tool. The process continues with his own unrelenting work ethic—the process of continually ‘planting seeds’ by cultivating individuals who have shown interest in the institution. Dr. Davis never lets up. He never gives up. He is the consummate development officer at all times. His enthusiasm and determination are infectious. His single most important achievement as president has been the transformation of College of the Ozarks financial footprint from barely above hand-to-mouth to one of America’s most solidly financed and operated small colleges, as a consequence of which every aspect of the College’s daily life—academic, student affairs, community relations—has been the beneficiary.”
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. He presided over the transition of the institution from a two-year to four-year status and tripled the enrollment. After serving at Alice Lloyd, he became president at College of the Ozarks.
Davis has served as president of College of the Ozarks since 1988, and the College has operated with no debt since 1989. He led the transformation of the institution and returned the College to its original mission and vision. 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 upscale 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. The College has established an exceptional nursing program, with many classes boasting a 100% first time pass rate on the NCLEX exam. The newly established engineering and fire science programs debuted in fall 2016.
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 is a success because of the staggering amount of money he has raised and the success of the institutions where he has served. More importantly, he is an example of a leader with 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 www.cofo.edu. Follow College of the Ozarks at www.facebook.com/collegeoftheozarks or on Twitter @CofOHardWorkU.
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.
06.12.17 – Valorie Coleman