W.R. Davies Display
A display in Davies Center's level one corridor celebrates the life and accomplishments of William R. Davies, second president of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, for whom Davies Center is named.
"It would not be possible to measure the service that he has rendered to the area, to the students, and to the cause of secondary education in Northwestern Wisconsin," campus historian Laura Sutherland wrote of Davies. "I wonder if he ever slept."
William Robert Davies (1893–1959) was named the second president of Eau Claire State Teachers College in December 1940. Major accomplishments during his tenure (1941–1959) include the establishment of the faculty senate and student government; creation of The Forum, one of the oldest continuous lecture series in the country; the first addition of academic buildings since the founding of the school in 1916; building of the first residence halls, student center and library; acquisition of the 200-acre Putnam Park; purchase of 48 acres of land for an upper campus; accreditation by the North Central Association for the first time; and the first bachelor and liberal arts degrees.
Davies established the State College Foundation in 1958 and served on its inaugural board. The foundation was organized to raise funds for the new National Defense Student Loans Program to provide low-interest loans for promising but needy students. The first fundraising campaign came with the death of Davies in December 1959. The campaign was launched by a live three-hour TV broadcast hosted by students. More than $16,000 was raised in five months, when annual giving up to that time had rarely reached $1,000. Each dollar raised was matched by nine dollars in federal grants for the student loan program, which played a significant role in increasing enrollment.
In December 1959, six days after Davies' death, the recently completed college center
was officially designated as W. R. Davies College Center. It was the first building on the
Eau Claire campus to be named for an individual.
In March 2011, after a survey of the university community, the administration announced that the new student center would be named W.R. Davies Student Center.
“No drama was found in the revelation that the new UW-Eau Claire student center will retain the W.R. Davies moniker,” reported Andrew Dowd of the Leader-Telegram, “just satisfaction that a key early leader of the university will continue to be honored for many decades to come.”
In creating the display honoring W.R. Davies, graphic designer Sara Brunner selected images from the Special Collections and Archives area of McIntyre Library that were edited by photographer Amanda Obenhoffer. Brunner also edited a drawing that appeared in the 1947 edition of the college yearbook, The Periscope — a map that projected Davies' hopes for the future Eau Claire campus. The bronze dedication plaque from the original Davies Center is also incorporated in the display.
Brunner is a Communications Specialist who joined the University Centers staff in September 2008. She worked for two years as a student graphic designer in the Activities, Involvement and Leadership office, and received a bachelor's degree in graphic design from UW-Eau Claire in May 2007.