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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NEWS SERVICES
210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


For immediate use

May 24, 2004 -- No. 291

Local Angles: Chapel Hill, Pasquotank County;
Midland, Texas

Walter Royal Davis receives Carolina’s
inaugural Light on the Hill award

Office of University Development

CHAPEL HILL -- In honor of his lifetime of loyalty and dedication to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Walter Royal Davis of Chapel Hill and Midland, Texas received the university’s first Light on the Hill Award at ceremonies held Saturday (May 22).

Established this year by Chancellor James Moeser and presented at his discretion with the support of the Board of Trustees, the Light on the Hill Award recognizes exceptional individuals who have advanced the university in teaching, research and service, benefiting its community of students, faculty and staff.

"Walter Davis is a standard-bearer of the university’s highest ideals," said Chancellor James Moeser. "He embodies the qualities the Light on the Hill Award was created to acknowledge and those we hope to be characteristic of every recipient who follows him."

A longtime benefactor of UNC and one of the most prominent philanthropists in North Carolina, Davis was born in Pasquotank County, the fourth of six children of modest farming parents. He graduated from Hargrave Military Academy and, with no money to attend college, supported himself with jobs as a clerk and truck driver. He eventually settled in Texas where he parlayed a $1,000 loan and five trucks into the world’s largest independent petroleum transport company. After merging his company with Occidental Petroleum, Davis went on to lead Occidental as it developed the first oil wells in the Middle East. Today, Davis’s business empire stretches from New Mexico to North Carolina, with properties ranging from oil wells to seaside resorts.

A three-term member of the university’s Board of Trustees, Davis successfully lobbied the state legislature during the 1970s to return funds from the sale of university-owned utilities to Carolina. He was instrumental in acquiring the $32 million used to pay for construction of the Walter Royal Davis Library, as well as renovations to Wilson Library and the Health Sciences Library. His many gifts have provided funds for students, faculty, campus buildings, research and strategic initiatives such as the Davis Oral History Fund supporting scholarly works in the Southern Oral History Program, a component of the Center for the Study of the American South. Davis served on the Board of Governors and the Board of Visitors. In addition to the inaugural Light on the Hill Award, Davis has received the university’s prestigious William Richardson Davie Award from the Board of Trustees and the Distinguished Service Medal from the General Alumni Association.

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CONTACT: Mike McFarland, (919) 962-8593