Miriam Davis, Class of 1959, has made a transformative gift in support of the University Commons capital campaign. Located on the west side of campus, the Commons is a two-building complex that will allow the sense of community to flourish on the Lenoir-Rhyne campus through the addition of significant meeting, gathering, and event space.
"I am excited to support the Commons with my investment because I have always loved LR," Davis said. "With the Commons, there is potential for so many different student and alumni gatherings."
Davis commented that a strong sense of community has always been a hallmark of the LR experience, and the University Commons will serve to strengthen and enhance this special bond. "When you support the Commons, it is not just about a building," she said. "LR has always had a heart, a soul, and is built on Holy ground."
For nearly 60 years, Davis has embraced LR as her second home, and she is eager to welcome the next generation of students to the Commons. The first phase of construction will include renovating the current president's home and converting it to administrative and meeting space for campus.
The second phase will be the construction of a new building, which will comprise the president's home and significant indoor and outdoor event space for campus gatherings. The president will welcome prospective students, gather with student groups, meet with faculty, and host alumni and friends at campus events.
In recognition of Davis's generosity, LR will name the Miriam Davis Foyer in the University Commons. In choosing to name the entrance and foyer, Davis hopes that everyone who comes to LR will experience the warmth and hospitality that she associates with LR.
"Miriam has been motivated to support LR her entire life," said Cat Niekro, vice president of institutional advancement. "We want to highlight that annual gifts over time build to have a significant impact on the University and greatly enhance the experience of our students. Miriam's steadfast devotion to LR has culminated in this wonderful leadership gift to the Commons project, and her enthusiasm for LR is contagious!"
Davis said she's had an affinity for LR since she attended as a student. "As a student, I came to LR and felt so welcomed and so loved the minute I stepped on campus," Davis said.
After her graduation, Davis worked briefly at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Columbia, South Carolina, as a director of Christian education. She later accepted an invitation to work two years for St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Hickory, North Carolina.
In 1961, Davis was looking for a more rewarding career when she was encouraged to apply for a case worker's job at the Stanly County Department of Public Welfare, currently known as Social Services, where she primarily handled cases for foster care and adoption. Davis also served briefly at the Catawba County Department of Social Services before being recruited for the North Carolina State Division of Social Services. For the next 30 years, Davis worked in both children and adult services, and received multiple promotions, continuously increasing her leadership responsibilities. Davis knew she had found her calling and retired in 1996, stating she had been involved in DSS services from the cradle to the grave.
"I can honestly say that if I had a chance to live my life over in employment in social service to both county and state, I would choose to do it all over again," Davis stated. "I would not change a thing, and LR was the foundation for it all."
To learn more or to support the project, visit lr.edu/universitycommons.