Jackson State University alumnus Emerson Davis recently gifted the university $100,000 to create four endowed tuition scholarships for students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts, College of Business, College of Education, and the W.E.B DuBois Maria Luisa Harvey Honors College.
“Everybody should give back. That’s what we’re here for. I’ve always wanted to make a difference or an impact. I’ve always wanted to help people who may be in need,” Davis said. “When I went to Jackson State, I knew students who were short $300 to finish the semester with a plan to come back but never did. I always wanted to help where I could.”
Davis, a native of Woodville, Mississippi, in Wilkinson County, shared that he was close friends with the late Patrick Kelly, noted fashion designer and fellow JSU alum. Kelly served as the inspiration for Davis to donate to the College of Liberal Arts. He also explained that he selected the honors college as a gesture of remembrance for the late Maria Luisa Alvarez Harvey, Ph.D., former associate dean of the Honors College. Davis also credits her as a source of inspiration.
“We are extremely grateful to Mr. Davis for supporting Jackson State University in such a generous way. His decision to invest at this level shows his belief in the power of education and, more specifically, the power of a JSU education,” said Yolanda Owens, interim vice president of the Division of Institutional Advancement. “The establishment of four endowed scholarships supporting the Colleges of Business, Liberal Arts and Education as well as the Honors College, means that students across disciplines will benefit from the $100,000 gift.”
Davis received a degree in business and management from the College of Business. He denoted that the College of Education was important to him because of the lack of male educators he experienced throughout his school years. Davis said he wanted to allow other male students to challenge the norm.
“I think it’s important for males to be involved with children at every level, more so than we are involved now. That’s my reasoning for establishing the scholarship for males interested in working in education because [school] is one of the areas in society everyone has to go through at some point in time,” explained Davis.
Now residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Davis credits his hometown for shaping him into the charitable man he is today. Davis said he had his fellow community members in mind when creating the JSU scholarship opportunities. While 80% of the funds are free-for-all, 20% is designated for Wilkinson County graduates.
Davis attributes JSU for helping to develop him and eight other Woodville peers from his graduating class into productive citizens. He also makes a point to acknowledge their “dear JSU classmate,” Henry L. Toliver, who passed away.