Alumni Spotlight: Michael Davison ’05
By Dr. Patrick Moser, Professor of French
I first met Michael Davison in my French culture class in the fall of 2002. A nontraditional student, he’d transferred from Drury’s evening and online programs to pursue majors in business and French. Michael was a rock climber and had spent much of the 1980s and ’90s chasing ascents in Utah, California and Colorado. I’d grown up surfing in California, chasing waves around the state and into Mexico. We compared notes and found a similar passion in the two pursuits. I was impressed that Michael had returned to school as an older adult–sitting in the classroom and doing homework with students half his age. He’s an ideal example of how Drury graduates often take the most interesting paths in their education.
These days, Michael is a Formula One enthusiast and drives a Porsche Boxster – but personal challenges still drive him. He’s the executive director of the nonprofit C.W. Titus Foundation, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He dedicates himself to continuing the legacy of his great-grandfather, C.W. Titus, by funding organizations that make this region a better place for all of us to live in.
Michael started working for the family business in 2004, the year before he graduated from Drury. He shares the title of executive director with his sister, Megan Crowder. Along with other family members, Michael oversees the foundation’s funds and investments, reviews the hundreds of grant proposals the foundation receives annually and visits with the organizations they fund.
From Springfield public libraries and Ozarks Public Television, to the Special Olympics, Tulsa Boys’ Home and the Cherokee National Historical Society, the list of organizations the Foundation has helped–in education, the arts, and community services–is long and continually growing. Michael is especially proud of how his family has managed the endowment over the past fifty years. Today, they award twice as much annually as the original stake set aside by C.W. Titus in 1968.
A large portion of that generosity helps Drury students. “My French courses made a big impression on me,” says Michael. They gave him greater exposure to the arts and literature, refining his appreciation for history and culture, which has proven to be valuable knowledge when he’s reviewing proposals for the many arts-related organizations that apply for funding. Michael wanted to help other Drury students benefit from the positive experience he had with foreign language and culture. Since 2008, the foundation has given over $130,000 to fund some 60 Drury students to study foreign language abroad. It’s not only an experience that will impact these students for the rest of their lives, but in keeping with the mission of the foundation, the students benefit our community by sharing what they’ve learned abroad. Last semester, seven Drury students presented their experiences of living in France for the Travelogue Series at the Schweitzer Brentwood library in Springfield.
Michael has traveled a lot of paths since graduating from Parkview High School and scaling peaks in the west. We’re fortunate that his journeys brought him to Drury. I think Michael would agree as well that he is fortunate to have returned to school and benefitted from a liberal arts education that, in its own way, helps him as he and his family’s foundation work to make our lives healthier, better informed and more appreciative of the culture and art that enrich our lives.