University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries
University of Georgia Libraries

Finding Aid for Frederick C. Davison Papers 1937-1988 (UGA 97-101)

Introduction to the Collection
Scope and Content
A Note on Organization
Box Listing
Content Inventory

141 linear feet : 141 boxes
Record Group 1

Introduction to the Collection:

Frederick Corbet Davison was born in Atlanta on September 3, 1929 and grew up in nearby Marietta. He attended Emory University and earned the Doctor or Veterinary Medicine degree at the University of Georgia in 1952. Upon graduation in 1952, Dr. Davison set up a private practice in Marietta. In 1958, he went to Iowa State University, where he taught veterinary medicine and led a research project sponsored by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He earned the Ph.D. degree in biochemistry and pathology from Iowa State University in 1963.

In 1963, he relocated to Chicago, Illinois, where he served as Assistant Director of Scientific Activities for the American Veterinary Medical Association for a year before becoming Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia in 1964. He left the latter position in 1966 to serve as Vice Chancellor with the University System Board of Regents, where he was given the responsibility for creating a public and legislative climate conducive to increasing state funding for higher education. In 1967, the largest budget increase for public higher education in Georgia's history was approved.

Dr. Davison was appointed as the University of Georgia's 17th President in July 1967, inaugurated on July 1, 1968, and served until June 30, 1986, the third longest presidential tenure in the University's history. His presidency was marked by an unprecedented expansion in depth, size, variety, and quality of the University's research programs, its public service outreach programs, library resources, faculty and student body, and post-graduate education.

Under his leadership, the University attained a ranking among the nation's top 50 research universities; its increased library holdings placed the University in America's top 30 libraries; and the institution became nationally ranked in the total number of honors students enrolled. Research expenditures grew from $15.6 million to more than $96 million during his presidency, reflecting a significant increase in competitively awarded contracts and grants received by the University of Georgia. Enrollment grew from 15,600 to 25,000 and graduate student enrollment more than doubled to 4,500. His goal of increasing the size and quality of post-graduate education led to total advanced degrees awarded each year nearly doubling in number, and doctoral degrees increasing from 123 awarded in 1968 to 315 in 1986.

Dr. Davison was charged with overseeing the continued explosive growth of the University physical plant and to see that this growth of assets was matched by a growth of quality in the depth and breadth of the programs and services offered at UGA. In the years of his tenure, the University budget tripled, faculty ranks swelled by 600, and student enrollment grew by 68%. Davison took as his personal goal the growth of all aspects of scientific endeavor at UGA, from the increased commitment to teaching to the expanded role of service and research undertaken by University scientists and students. This growth was all the more remarkable in that it transpired in a time of political upheaval which found expression on the campus in Athens as well, as students protested for women students' rights in 1968, occupied the Academic Building (April 1968), and protested the student shootings at Kent State in May of 1970. A housing protest in 1972 led to trial of the "Athens Eight" and faculty unrest in mid-1970s led to the ouster of the University Provost (Pelletier).

Ultimately a dispute over the administration of the University's Developmental Studies program, and charges by Jan Kemp of grade accommodations for student athletes created an atmosphere which led to Davison's resignation in 1986.

Some of the campus buildings and improvements made during President Davison’s tenure include the Law Library (1967); Boyd Graduate Studies/Science Library (1968); Psychology/Journalism Complex (1968); University Bookstore (1968); State Botanical Garden (1969-85); Aderhold Hall (1971); Plant Sciences Building (1972); Family Housing Extension (1972-74); Ecology Building (1974); Library Annex (1974); Henry Feild Stadium (1977); Law Annex (1981); Caldwell Hall (1981); Tate Student Center (1983).

In July 1986, Dr. Davison assumed an endowed professorship in the University's College of Veterinary Medicine where he promoted the advancement of biotechnology, a field in which the University had become internationally prominent under his leadership. This area of science offers our world unlimited food, fuel, and fiber from biological sources in place of petroleum resources.

Dr. Davison became President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Science Center Foundation, Inc. on October 1, 1988. The Foundation's goal is to restore mathematical and scientific literacy to our nation's classrooms as the essential element in reclaiming America's former position as the world's leader in the development and production of advanced technology. He retired from this position in July of 2002.

Most recently, Dr. Davison served as Chair of the Board of Directors, Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, headquartered in Aiken, SC.

On Friday, April 16, 2004, the biosciences complex at the University of Georgia was renamed the Fred C. Davison Life Sciences Complex. President Davison passed away on April 28, 2004.

Note prepared 8/03-Updated 5/04. Biographical sketch from Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness used in preparation of this note.

Scope and Content

While the chronological bulk of the records from the Frederick C. Davison Papers (97-101) covers his tenure as President of the University of Georgia from 1967 to 1986, there are also documents to be found in the papers dating from as early as 1937 and as recently as 1988.

The broad groupings within the Davison papers do not break geographically into cohesive series, beyond certain interactions with entities such as the university system Board of Regents, but it is fair to characterize several broad subject catagories as series by virtue of the volume of records present in the accession. It should be noted that the location of records within certain of these series may well not be confined to a single geography within the larger body of Davison records.

  1. Administrative Interactions with Deans and Vice Presidents: President Davison instituted a management/organizational model for the University which moved towards the more corporate scheme of President with an immediate Vice-Presidential substrate. This model acknowledges the fact that the University has become an administratively complex organism, and is meant to make interactions between the President and his constituency more efficient. It also incorporates the previous academic structure of interaction with the Deans of the various Colleges and Schools at the University. Because the University has also become wedded to the philosophy of the regular Self-Study (97-101:104; 97-101:125), this management model is designed to be more immediately responsive to the needs of such an activity. Though these records can be found throughout the accession, they are in significant concentration between 97-101:74 and 97-101:80.
  2. Athletics: Because of the importance of athletics at the University of Georgia, and due to the President’s role as head of the Athletic Association, records dealing with the athletic programs at the University are present throughout the accession, most significantly in 97-101:12 97-101:13, and 97-101:48.
  3. Correspondence File: Though correspondence occurs regularly throughout the accession, there is an interesting earlier box covering the years 1962-1965 (97-101:98), and a box of correspondence to University Faculty (97-101:122).
  4. Developmental Studies: The controversy surrounding the University’s Developmental Studies program would ultimately lead to President Davison’s resignation. Documents related to this issue can be found in 97-101:128, 97-101: 137, and 97-101:141.
  5. Inaugural Files: Concentrations of inaugural materials can be found at 97-101:93-94, 97-101:121, and 97-101:136.
  6. Speeches: The speeches of F.C. Davison can be found arranged chronologically in boxes 97-101:114 through 97-101:117. There is an additional set of State of the University addresses in 97-101:140.
  7. Student Affairs/Student Unrest: President Davison helmed the University in a turbulent era. The record of intereactions between the administration and a restive student populace can be found chiefly in 97-101:52 through 97-101:56.
  8. University of Georgia Bicentennial: Arguably the zenith of the Davison years (others would offer growth of the University, particularly in the physical plant, research, and service spheres as counter), the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the chartering of the University in 1985 heralded to the larger world that the University had arrived as a major institute of research and higher education. Planning documents for the celebration can be found in 97-101:58 and :59.
  9. University System of Georgia/Board of Regents: Interactions between President Davison and the University System can be found between 97-101:65 and 97-101:72. Of particular interest is the system desegregation plan (97-101:68 & :69). Records detailing Board of Regents policy can be found between 97-101:81 and 97-101:90.

A Note on Organization

The Frederick C. Davison Papers (UGA 97-101) were received in a number of shipments over a decade-long period, with the final shipment of 83 boxes (1960-1986) accessioned at University Archives on 2/24/87. The total 141 box assemblage was assigned the accession number 97-101 in the Spring of 1997.

In its broadest aspect, the Davison papers are arranged as a large, continuous Administrative Subject/Correspondence File, ordered alphabetically by subject, and hierarchically according to the administrative organizational schema of the University. The largest continuous run of records cohesively so ordered is in the first 80 boxes of 97-101. There follows a run of 10 boxes of Board of Regents’-related records, followed by a more eclectic mix of administrative subject and correspondence relating largely to the roughly the second half of President Davison’s tenure. This last group of records comprises the final 51 boxes of the accession. Because this organizational scheme described above changed significantly over the nineteen years of the Davison administration, there are several discontinuities between the organizational scheme from the records generated in the 1960s and that represented by the records generated in the 1980s. As is consistant with other sufficiently complex administrative series at the University of Georgia, the office practice was to batch retire records annually, holding over those files into the new administrative year deemed necessary or still active in the daily office function.

Because the file-level inventory will be electronically searchable, it was decided to maintain the original received provenance of these papers, chaotic though it was. In taking this step, we reinforced the precedent established with the processing of the presidential papers of Dr. O.C. Aderhold.

Processed/Prepared by: Tiffany Coleman/Andrew Lemons, Gilbert Head, Jennifer Keller, Brandy Savarese-August 2003/Edit 3/04. Online version: Carol Bishop, April 2004.