Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Receives $44 Million Philanthropic Gift, Largest in School History

George Watson

January 19, 2022

(VIDEO) The university will rename its agricultural college the Gordon W. Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources in recognition of Davis’ generosity.

Gordon W. Davis has had a larger impact on the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources than just about anyone else.

A local businessman who spent 10 years as an associate professor in the college, Davis and his wife, Joyce, have given a $44 million donation, which represents the single largest philanthropic donation to Texas Tech in school history and is one of the largest investments in people and programs in an agricultural college in the U.S.

Gordon, Joyce and President Schovanec
President Schovanec introduces Gordon and Joyce Davis.

The gift will fund three areas within the college:

  • A $25 million endowment that will directly benefit the college;
  • A $4 million gift to establish the Gordon and Joyce Davis Endowment for Excellence in Meat and Food Science; and
  • A $15 million gift from the Gordon W. Davis estate to benefit future educational efforts within the college.

To honor this generosity, Texas Tech University is renaming the college the Gordon W. Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.

“My wife and I voted 2-0 on this college,” Davis said of his and Joyce's decision to make this gift to the college. “We did this together.

“I think agriculture is a sleeping giant. We're out here in West Texas, one of the great agriculture areas of the whole world. We have great alumni from all over the country, especially Texas, that love the college and love the education they got in agriculture at Texas Tech. So why wouldn't we want to do this and get it better and better and better? The sleeping giant gets realized and becomes one of the preeminent colleges of agricultural sciences in the world.”

The gift also will challenge Davis College leadership to forge a bold vision for future fundraising to continue supporting new and ongoing projects within the college and its seven departments and increase the level of excellence already established.

The seven departments within the Davis College are:

  • Agricultural and Applied Economics
  • Agricultural Education & Communications
  • Animal & Food Sciences
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Plant and Soil Science
  • Natural Resources Management
  • Veterinary Sciences 
Gordon Davis
Gordon W. Davis.

These new endowments will continue to enhance the worldwide stature and success of the college by funding scholarships for the Meat Sciences and Muscle Biology program and the Food Safety and Microbiology program as well as overall excellence for the entire college.

“The legacy of Gordon Davis at Texas Tech reflects his passionate dedication to students and a history of promoting excellence in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, first as a faculty member and then through generous support as a successful entrepreneur,” Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said. “This historic and transformative gift from Gordon and Joyce Davis amplifies that legacy and will provide resources that will enhance educational experiences, academic programs and faculty research. I am profoundly grateful for their extraordinary commitment and investment in the future of the college and Texas Tech University.”

“Gordon and Joyce Davis' gift is about investing in people,” said Provost and Senior Vice President Ron Hendrick. “The Davises know that investing in students, faculty and staff in the Gordon W. Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources is critical to its success, and our success as a university. The Davises' generous gift demonstrates their commitment to, and strong belief in, education and academics as a pathway to success.”

About Gordon W. Davis

These new gifts add to the Davis family's legacy of giving over the years. In 2006, the $500,000 Gordon W. Davis Meat Science Enhancement Endowment helped maintain facility equipment and support teaching, outreach and research activities in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences. The meat science laboratory building on campus bears the Gordon W. Davis name. At the same time, Davis also gave $500,000 to establish the Gordon W. Davis Endowed Chair in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences, which was matched by the Regents' Faculty Endowment Program, creating a new faculty position currently held by professor Brad Johnson.

The Gordon W. Davis Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Meat Judging was established in 1996 by the Meat Science Alumni Association to provide financial assistance for students majoring in meat science who are participating on the Texas Tech Meat Judging Team. Today, the team is the three-time defending national champion and has been called “the Alabama football of the meat judging world” by Sports Illustrated.

Gordon Davis

A year later, in 1997, Davis helped establish the Gordon W. Davis Endowed Scholarship for undergraduate students in the Department of Animal & Food Science who are studying meat science.

In 2020, the Gordon and Joyce Davis Foundation was created to award scholarships to students planning to attend community colleges, universities or trade schools.

Davis, who earned bachelor's degrees in agriculture science and education from Washington State University and a doctorate in meat science from Texas A&M University, spent the early part of his career as an instructor and faculty member at several colleges. He began as a high school instructor in the late 1960s and later was an instructor at Texas A&M while finishing his master's and doctorate requirements. He then spent three years on the faculty at the University of Tennessee and 10 years at Texas Tech. In 1990, he left to enter the private sector.

During his time in academia, he coached two national champion meat judging teams, at Texas A&M in 1973 and Texas Tech in 1989 – that would be the first of what is now 16 national championships in Lubbock. Professor Mark Miller, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Chair in Meat Science, Food Processing and Preservation, competed in meat judging for Davis in 1981 and served as an assistant coach in 1982 and 1983. He succeeded Davis in that role and has led Texas Tech to 15 more national championships.

“Gordon Davis has been an amazing supporter of the kids,” Miller said. “His passion for excellence and drive to make Texas Tech a world-class meat science program has made a significant impact on the lives of many people and will continue to do so for perpetuity. We are blessed to have Gordon Davis as a friend and family member in our meat science program at Texas Tech.”

Recognizing a need for enhanced instructional material, in 1984, Davis entered the entrepreneurial world and established CEV Multimedia, which started out producing multimedia textbooks for curricula. Today, iCEV develops online curricula, instructional materials and certification testing in Career & Technical Education (CTE) for agricultural sciences; architecture, construction, transportation and manufacturing; business, marketing, finance, information technology and media; career exploration; family and consumer sciences; health science; law, public safety, correction and security; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

In 2012, CEV earned both the Governor's State of Texas Small Business Award and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Blue Ribbon Small Business Award. In 2014, the company was named the Association of Career & Technical Education (ACTE) Business Leader of the Year.

Davis has been recognized numerous times by the college, including with the Albert Usener Award in 1990, the Outstanding Meat Science Alumni Award in 1996, the Meathead of the Year Award in 1998, the Animal & Food Sciences Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award in 2003, and the Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Agriculturalist Award for Agribusiness in 2009. He also earned the Distinguished Service Award from Washington State in 2008.

Other awards he has earned include the National Agricultural Alumni Association's Ruby C. McSwaim Outstanding Philanthropist Award, the American Meat Science Association's (AMSA) Intercollegiate Meat Judging Meritorious Service Award and the Texas Plains Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Outstanding Philanthropist Award.

“This investment places Texas Tech with the best colleges of agriculture in the nation,” said Byron Kennedy, vice president for Advancement. “The effect of this investment will change the trajectory of this university.”