Feb. 20, 2009 – Community members will come together to honor Pastor France A. Davis and celebrate the first anniversary of the scholarship that carries his name – The Pastor France A. Davis University of Utah Scholarship Fund. Former Brigham Young University head football coach, LaVell Edwards, and Weber State University head football coach, Ron McBride, will also be honored for their contributions to the community and for promoting and supporting higher education for African American and other students traditionally underrepresented at Utah colleges and universities. The recipient of the 2009-2010 scholarship will be announced.
The celebration, a tribute dinner and fundraiser, will be held on February 27, 2009 at the Sheraton Hotel Ballroom, 150 West, 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah.
University of Utah President Michael K. Young, states, “Reverend France A. Davis is an inspiration and a mentor to young people throughout our community-including many at the University of Utah. His contributions to the education and welfare of Utah’s youth are truly remarkable and do so much to strengthen our community and state. We join with all Utahns in celebrating the first anniversary of the scholarship founded in his name.”
In establishing the scholarship over a year ago, community leaders noted that financial limitations are one of the greatest barriers facing African American and other underrepresented students, not only in enrolling in higher education, but also in remaining in college to earn a degree. The scholarship committee’s goal is to nurture the scholarship fund to provide African American students with important financial assistance, mentoring and academic support as they strive to complete their education.
According to scholarship fund board of directors member, Ron Coleman, Utah college football coaching legends, LaVell Edwards and Ron Mc Bride, have been instrumental in providing educational opportunities for African American athletes and others attending Brigham Young University, the University of Utah and Weber State University. “Many of these young men have graduated from college, established careers and are serving as productive members of the community in Utah and across the nation,” says Coleman, an associate professor in the University of Utah Department of History and ethnic studies program. “The unique relationships between Coach Mc Bride, Coach Edwards and their former athletes have often continued for decades after competition on the gridiron has ended. We salute these special contributions to the people of Utah.”
Kathleen Christy, assistant superintendent, Salt Lake City School District, and chairwoman of the scholarship fund board of directors, reaffirms the goals of the scholarship fund and Pastor Davis’ influence, “As a pastor, community activist, educational and biblical scholar, Davis has been and continues to be a pillar of strength and integrity in our community. His lifetime dedication to education and equality is the reason we acknowledge him and established this scholarship in his name.”
Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president for the Office of Equity and Diversity at the University of Utah agrees, “In addition to meeting the spiritual needs of his congregants, Pastor Davis is a model of exemplary community service, bridge-building and committed mentorship. He has said that education is the gateway to success and we must enhance opportunities for our youth to excel. Community leaders who came together to establish this private scholarship fund are to be commended for helping us enhance the success of African American students at the U.”
Pastor France A. Davis leads the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City. Raised in Georgia, he has lived in Utah for nearly 35 years. As a young college student he met and marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Davis went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force and earn five college degrees. He teaches at the University of Utah and contributes his time and energy to numerous civic, business, educational, and charitable organizations to further the cause of social justice.
For more information about the Pastor France A. Davis Scholarship Fund for University of Utah students, or to make a contribution, please call 801-578-8251 or email sStanley@utahblackchamber.org. You may also visit www.utahblackchamber to RSVP to attend the dinner.