ONE-ON-ONE with Bobby Davis '03

Vice President for University Advancement discusses how the Catholic and Jesuit mission are the foundation of success.

Bobby Davis ’03, Vice President for University Advancement.
Bobby Davis ’03, Vice President for University Advancement.

Bobby Davis ’03 believes that the education students receive at Scranton equips them “to meet the challenges of the day.” He speaks from experience.

In 2008, two years after he had returned to Scranton as a member of the staff, Davis accepted a new role as an Advancement professional. Then, two days later, the country plummeted into the “great recession.”

In the midst of the challenging fiscal environment, Davis stayed the course and successfully worked on and then later directed the largest capital campaign in the University’s history, raising more than $125 million to support the University’s mission, endowment and development. Today, Davis leads a team as Vice President for University Advancement and still finds inspiration in a takeaway from that time: When needed, people were willing to figure out a way forward for their University.

Davis talks with The Scranton Journal about his “transformational” experience as a student and how it fuels his commitment to “providing opportunities for current and future students to become the people they were created to be.”

Your Jesuit experience began at a young age “Just Outside Philly,” and continued into your undergraduate and post-graduate education and professional life. What inspired that longevity, and what have you found most meaningful about a Catholic/Jesuit education?

My own experiences as a student were transformational. They opened my worldview to things I never imagined, or  thought were possible. It is a real privilege to work at a place that helped me as a young person and continues to support and help students develop. The ability to work with colleagues across campus who care about students and support our mission through the way they live their lives is the reason I have wanted to stay here.

You graduated in 2003 with a double major in philosophy and biology as a member of the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts honors program. In your early days as a Royal, did you envision yourself returning as a member of the staff in 2006? Tell us about the path that led you back to The University of Scranton.

I don’t think I imagined I’d ever come back and work on campus. I loved my time here as a student, and loved the University, but working in higher education was not on my radar. A few years after I graduated, I found myself looking for a different opportunity and applied for a job in Residence Life after some encouragement from my brother, Andrew ’06. I started on May 1, 2006, and found a passion for higher education that has driven my experience as a professional here on campus. 

You were elevated to your current role as vice president for University Advancement in September 2022. What have been your top priorities so far and what are you looking forward to?

The past year has been a lot of fun getting more involved in Advancement and working with our team, Fr. Marina, the Board of Trustees and the Campaign Executive Committee to launch the public phase of our capital campaign. That has been our primary focus, but we have also been working hard to build out our Advancement team while reinvigorating our alumni engagement efforts after the pandemic.

How does this campaign prepare our student population for a rapidly changing global economy and position the University for the future?

This campaign focuses on the things that make Scranton special and ensuring that we can continue them long into the future. It’s about providing opportunities for current and future students to become the people they were created to be. It also will provide the University with resources to ensure that our Catholic and Jesuit Identity is at the root of all we do on campus. The education a student receives at Scranton prepares them to meet the challenges of the day, and that will continue to be true as we work to fund these important priorities. 

Our Catholic and Jesuit Mission animates everything we do and is such a force for good in a world that needs it. — Bobby Davis '03

From the Alumni Service Corps to domestic/ international service trips, how have your experiences influenced your work today and your commitment to the Catholic and Jesuit mission?

The experiences I have had working at Scranton with our students and alumni continue to focus my energy on the importance of our Catholic and Jesuit Mission. This mission animates everything we do and is such a force for good in a world that needs it. 

How do you define success for a campaign and for the University as a whole?

It will be a success in two ways: the money raised for University priorities and participation from our alumni, parents and friends. The support people show through donations, of any size, is an important endorsement of their own experience at Scranton, but more importantly for the vision Fr. Marina has set forth for the future of Scranton. 

Bobby Davis ‘03 describes himself as “Abbey’s husband” and “Gavin, Charlotte, Jack, Cate and Bobby III’s dad” and resides with them in Dunmore. He grew up “Just Outside Philly” in Havertown and is the son of Bob and Susanne Davis. He has three siblings who are University alumni, Andrew ’06 G’20, Claire ’08, and Bobby Della Polla ’13, G’14. He dedicates time to his community on the Board of Trustees at Scranton Preparatory School, as a volunteer with the Dunmore Little League and as a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish. He’s a former member of the NCAA Division III Management Council, having been chair of the Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee.

Davis earned his bachelor’s (biology/philosophy), master’s (biochemistry), and MBA degrees from The University of Scranton and his doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania.

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