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Gift from Chicago couple creates new center in KU School of Business

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

LAWRENCE — Roger and Julie Davis, of Chicago, have made a combined outright and planned gift commitment of $7.2 million to enable the University of Kansas School of Business to create a Center for Figure Sense. The aim of the new center is to teach students how to use complex data to make better business decisions.

The school plans to formally introduce the new center at a ceremony scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 4, at the Oread Hotel. The center is set to launch in spring 2016.

The Davises’ gift involves an outright contribution of $250,000 and an estate gift commitment of $7 million. The outright gift will be used to hire an academic director to begin working with faculty and staff to enhance students’ figure sense across the business school curricula.

“We think of ‘figure sense’ as the effectiveness with which people select and evaluate evidence before making a decision or taking action,” said Roger Davis, a KU alumnus. “Strong figure sense requires a solid understanding of accounting, economics, finance and statistical analysis — and the ability to persuasively communicate recommendations and supporting evidence.”

No new classes will be created because the center’s mission is to infuse the figure sense critical-thinking methodologies into every business school undergraduate class.

“This gift, with its focus on critical thinking and evidenced-based decision-making, will allow KU to continue fulfilling its mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

School of Business Dean Neeli Bendapudi expressed her appreciation for the gift.

“In a complex and rapidly changing world, the challenge is not how to get enough data but to learn how to ask the right questions and sift through the sources of and biases in data, in order to make better decisions,” she said. “We are truly grateful for this gift from Roger and Julie."

The Davises have been generous donors to KU in the past. Prior to this gift, they donated $1.5 million, $1 million of which went toward construction of Capitol Federal Hall, the business school’s new building.

Roger Davis, owner and CEO of Paxton/Patterson in Chicago, earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration from KU in 1972. He has been a member of the School of Business dean’s advisory board for more than 20 years, serving as board chair from 1996 through 1999, and is a recipient of the School’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Julie Davis, a co-founder of Davis & Hosfield Consulting LLC in Chicago, graduated from Kansas State University’s College of Business Administration in 1978. She has been inducted into the College of Business Administration Accounting Hall of Fame and named as an Alumni Fellow by Kansas State University.

Roger credits two former faculty members at KU with first educating him about what today he identifies as figure sense: H.K L’Ecuyer and Robert Sterling. L’Ecuyer taught at KU from 1949 to 1974 and Sterling from 1967 to 1974.

The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s comprehensive campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future. The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.


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