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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG - 08/01/2007 - For the first time in its 136-year history, UCM announces the establishment of a named faculty position. The Mike and Patti Davidson Distinguished Marketing Professorship is made possible by the generosity of two UCM alumni, with a desire to enhance and expand the mission of business education excellence within the Harmon College of Business Administration and its Department of Marketing and Legal Studies.
Gift to UCM Foundation Endows Professorship
Mike and Patti Davidson
Mike Davidson, a top-level executive with State Farm Insurance Companies in Bloomington, Ill., and his wife, Patti, have endowed the professorship via a $250,000 gift through the UCM Foundation. It will be used over the next 10 years to support the named position for a selected faculty member, and provide additional benefits for students and faculty in the college and department.
A Commitment to Quality Education
“We’re very grateful to the Davidsons and their support for UCM,” said University President Aaron Podolefsky. “Their endowment demonstrates their strong commitment to quality education and the success of our business students.”
“The gift allows us to select an excellent marketing and legal studies professor to this named position. This professor will be committed to teaching and learning and will also be an excellent scholar,” added Joan Mansfield, interim dean of the Harmon College.
Enhanced Opportunities for Faculty and Students
Larry Haase, chair of the Department of Marketing and Legal Studies for the past 18 years, said that in addition to recognizing faculty for outstanding performance, the academic endowment provides financial resources to enhance professional development opportunities for students and faculty. It also makes available funds for student scholarships and helps cover some expenses and activities associated with student competitions.
Having served business students for 37 years, Haase is pleased that the gift was designated to the Department of Marketing and Legal Studies. He said department members are excited about the gift, and he stressed that the donors have shown confidence that their financial contribution to UCM will be well managed and make a difference in the lives of university students and faculty.
“In short, they have demonstrated a great trust in our department and our department faculty is deeply honored that they have placed this trust with us,” Haase remarked.
Careers in Education and Business
The Davidsons are strong proponents of higher learning. The couple got married while they were students at UCM, and both graduated from the university in 1972 after completing degrees in education. Both began their careers teaching in public schools in Excelsior Springs. Mike later went to work in his hometown of Richmond as an agent with State Farm Insurance Companies. After various promotions and moves across the country with his wife and their three children, he now serves as vice chairman, chief agency and marketing officer for State Farm, working out of the main corporate office in Bloomington. Patti Davidson left teaching to raise her family and help support her husband’s career. She has also been involved in her community.
“I never imagined that we would be in an economic position to be able to do this, but things have transpired over the years and State Farm has been very good to us. It’s put us in a position to be able to give back in a little bit bigger way than we ever thought possible,” Mike Davidson said.
Keeping Talented Faculty in the Classroom
Although Davidson is highly successful in the business arena, he credits much of his success to the time he spent in the education field. He is also a graduate of the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., where he currently serves on the college’s Board of Trustees. Davidson and his wife are pleased that their gift will help keep talented faculty in the department’s classrooms, who can help students become leaders in their career fields.
“In the sales and marketing area at many schools it takes talented people to fill these positions…We thought that if this (the gift) helps to get a high-caliber person in there to help students who are going out in the real world, then it’s a good place to invest,” Davidson said.