RIT Mourns the Passing of Vice President Emeritus Alfred ‘Al’ Davis
Campus memorial service for ‘Mr. RIT’ planned for next month
May 28, 2008
by Paul Stella
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Alfred L. Davis, whose relationship with Rochester Institute of Technology spanned eight decades, passed away earlier today. Mr. Davis was 92 years old.
The RIT flag will be lowered to half-staff May 29 in memory of Mr. Davis, and a campus memorial service is being planned for sometime in June.
“Al Davis, affectionately known as ‘Mr. RIT’ on campus, will be sorely missed,” says RIT President Bill Destler. “Mr. Davis had an unequalled impact on this university for 70 years. His contributions to RIT have been exceptional and will be felt for generations to come.”
Born in Boulder, Colo., in 1916, Mr. Davis earned an A.B. Degree from Salem College, then went on to obtain an M.A. from Syracuse University. In 1938, after college he joined RIT as an instructor in the general education department, where he taught until 1941.
In 1941, Mr. Davis began working as chief inspector for the instrument division for Bausch & Lomb. During his time in industry, he spent five years as president of the Rochester Society for Quality Control and was a founding member of the American Society of Quality Control.
Mr. Davis returned on a fulltime basis to RIT in 1945, serving as associate director of the evening division, a position he held until 1951. He was then named director of public relations for the institute, a position he held until his promotion to vice president for development and public relations in 1960. He held this post until 1970, when he became administrative secretary to RIT’s Board of Trustees. He was again named vice president in 1980.
The lasting contributions Mr. Davis made to RIT can be seen throughout campus in various ways. He played a key role in helping raise the $65 million needed to relocate from downtown to the Henrietta campus.
His support also made it possible for RIT to build a new childcare facility, Margaret’s House, which was named after his late wife Margaret Welcher Davis. In 2004, as a gesture of thanks, RIT’s Student Alumni Union cafeteria was renamed the Alfred L. Davis room.
In addition, Mr. Davis is responsible for establishing the Four Presidents’ Distinguished Public Service Award in 2003, presented each year to an RIT faculty or staff member whose public services mirrors that of the four RIT presidents who worked with Mr. Davis. One year later, he helped create the annual Bruce R. James Distinguished Public Service Award, which recognizes a student or student organization for exemplary public service.
Mr. Davis was also active in the affairs of the Rochester community, having served on the board of directors of Rochester General Hospital and as director of the Hillside Children’s Center, the Rochester Chamber of Commerce and the Advertising Council of Rochester. He also enjoyed extensive involvement with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and was a benefactor of the organization.