Nancy J. Davis, emeritus professor of sociology, and Robert V. Robinson

Philanthropy is a powerful way to express and sustain a family’s passions. Rob Robinson and Nancy Davis, both retired sociology professors, have created a philanthropic legacy honoring their passions for education, diversity and inclusion. Nancy began teaching in DePauw’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology in 1982, while Rob served on the faculty at Indiana University where the couple met in 1979. Together they developed a Preparing Future Faculty partnership that allowed sociology Ph.D. students at Indiana University who wanted to teach at liberal arts colleges to shadow DePauw sociology faculty for a semester. The partnership program received the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002.

“I was honored to shadow Nancy while a graduate student at IU,” says DePauw Professor of Sociology Matthew Oware, recipient of DePauw’s 2016 Edwin L. Minar Jr. Scholarship Award. “To this day, I incorporate many of her teaching strategies into my own.”

During 30 years of teaching at DePauw, Nancy helped develop a women’s studies program; hire African American, Latina and international faculty; and create a curriculum addressing issues of race, class, gender and sexuality.

“The local and national reputation of the department is due very much to Nancy’s unflagging devotion,” says Jim Mannon, professor emeritus of sociology and former department chair. “Nancy invested great energy and helped students develop in many ways.”

Laura Hamilton ’01, associate professor of sociology at University of California-Merced, remembers, “As the first to graduate from college in my family, I was unsure of how to navigate college and the transition into graduate school. Nancy encouraged me to present my research at national conferences, helped me apply to graduate school and made me believe I was capable. In graduate school, Rob persuaded me that my dissertation defense must be a book.”

Nancy and Rob say teaching – and learning from – students has been the great joy of their lives, and this led them to establish the Nancy J. Davis and Robert V. Robinson Endowed Scholarship with a commitment in their estate plan. They are pleased to have designed a gift that provides comprehensive opportunities for future generations of DePauw students. “As first-generation college graduates ourselves, Rob and I know the importance of scholarships in making the ideal of educational opportunity a reality,” Nancy says. “We value DePauw’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive student body, a reason we have earmarked most of our gift to students from under-represented populations.”

“The inspiring classes I took with Nancy over 30 years ago were a profound influence,” says one of Nancy’s earliest students, Rich Bonaccorsi ’85, vice president of international operations for Harrison College. “She and Rob continue to give to current and future DePauw students. We must all be so grateful, honored and proud!”

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