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Alfred L. Davis: Biography

Alfred L. Davis had an extraordinary impact on RIT. For 70 years, Mr. Davis was engaged in the life of the university, serving as advisor to four RIT presidents, as a faculty member, a mentor, and a role model to both students and staff members. He was a dedicated and committed volunteer and benefactor who, as a retiree, contributed in numerous ways to making RIT the best it could be. Through these efforts, he developed an appreciation for the selfless generosity of RIT’s benefactors and their profound impact on the students and the greater community.

During his years as vice president in the 1960s and 1970s, Al Davis played a key role in shaping RIT’s future by helping to raise the funds to build a new campus in Henrietta. Always conscious of recognizing others’ generosity, Mr. Davis was instrumental in founding the Nathaniel Rochester Society (NRS) in 1967, and worked with Mr. and Mrs. Kilian Schmitt in developing the campus interfaith center. He was active in establishing the J. Warren McClure Professorship, the John Wiley Jones Lecture Series and the creation of many scholarships. He was also a charter member of the Ellingson Society, which was formed to recognize individuals who have made a planned or deferred gift to RIT.

In 1977, RIT board member Brackett Clark and his wife, Ruth, established the Alfred L. and Ruby C. Davis endowed scholarship to recognize the couple for their many contributions to the Institute, including establishing the Women’s Council of RIT. The scholarships are awarded to students who are campus leaders and who have demonstrated service to the university. In establishing these criteria, Davis recognized that the future of RIT depends upon the efforts of volunteer leaders.

In recognition of his many years of achievement and his continued advocacy and support for RIT, Mr. Davis received the Nathanial Rochester Society Award in 1988, the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1995, the Retirees Award in 2000, and in 2004 he was made an honorary member of the RIT Women’s Council. In 2006, Mr. Davis was presented with the prestigious Founders Award, which honors individuals who exemplify the type of devoted service and public and Institute spirit demonstrated by the founders of the Athenaeum and the Mechanics Institue, RIT’s forerunner.

Al Davis demonstrated through his own words and deeds the extraordinary importance of philanthropy in the life of the university. In 1996, for example, he funded a new campus child-care facility, Margaret’s House, named in memory of his late wife Margaret Welcher Davis. “Al Davis, affectionately known as ‘Mr. RIT’ on campus, had an unequalled impact on this university for seven decades,” says RIT president Bill Destler. “His contributions to RIT have been exceptional and will be felt for generations to come.”