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The University Magazine

Remembering ‘Mr. RIT’

University Magazine - Fall 2008 Image
Al Davis

Alfred L. Davis, whose relationship with RIT spanned eight decades, died May 28, 2008. He was 92.

“Al Davis, affectionately known as ‘Mr. RIT’ to many, will be sorely missed,” said 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 received an undergraduate degree from Salem College, then earned a master’s degree from Syracuse University. He joined RIT in 1938 as an instructor in the general education department, where he taught until 1941. Mr. Davis then became 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 to RIT in 1945 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 continued in that position until 1970, when he became administrative secretary to RIT’s Board of Trustees. He was again named vice president in 1980.

Mr. Davis played a key role in helping raise the $65 million needed to relocate RIT’s campus from downtown to its current site. 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, in honor of his many contributions, RIT’s Student Alumni Union dining facility was renamed the Alfred L. Davis room.

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 major supporter of the organization.