'Just Do You' features Dr. Josephine Davis

August 29, 2012 – This week’s “Just Do You” features Dr. Josephine Davis. Fort Valley State University recently named the veteran administrator and professor of mathematics as the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
A Waycross native, Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from SpelmanCollege, a Master of Science degree from the University of Notre Dame-Southbend and a doctorate in mathematics from Rutgers University.

Throughout her lengthy career, Davis has overcome many challenges and broken many barriers. She was the first female appointed as the dean of graduate studies at Albany State University. She was also the first African American woman to serve as vice president for academic affairs and acting president for St. Cloud State University. Another impressive achievement, she was the first black female named president of a four-year institution within the City University of New York. She started her career atFVSU as vice president for academic affairs in 1996. Most recently she served as a professor of mathematics and the university’s quality enhancement plan’s interim director for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation.

Dr. Davis (front row, left) with directors from the Colleges of the Arts and Sciences.
Back row left to right: Dr. Karl Lawrence, Professor Bobby Dickey, Dr. Berlethia Pitts, Dr. Ian Toppin
Front row left to right: Dr. George Mbata, Dr. Dwayne Daniels, Dr. Melanie Ragin

In leading the College of Arts and Sciences, Davis plans to institute a new “equation” e(3), meaning that the college will be efficient and effective in enhancing the teaching/learning environment. Davis plans to work for the accreditation of more programs and departments within arts and sciences.

When she assumed office, Davis, along with College of Arts and Science Deans and Department Chairs, greeted and welcomed the faculty in their first semester meeting. Dr. Larry E. Rivers, FVSU president, and Dr. Julius Scipio, vice president of Academic Affairs, were welcome faculty. A brief reception with refreshments and welcome back cake followed.

In her personal life, Davis has met and taught future dignitaries. As a college student, she met President John F. Kennedy before flying to Africa. She’s visited Great Britain’s Duke of Northumberland, and has mentored S.M.E. Bengu, the first indigenous African to serve as a Minister of Education of South Africa.

Davis, who describes herself as a servant–leader, is a seasoned world traveler. As aSpelman student, she spent a summer in Tanzania as a member of the Operation Crossroads program—the precursor of the U.S. Peace Corps. The interim dean spoke about her Operation Crossroads experience.


Additionally, the professor of mathematics discussed meeting Charles E. Merrill Jr., (whose father started investment firm Merrill-Lynch).


Davis also spoke about her time as an ambassador and meeting victims of Hiroshima.


“Just Do You” is a periodic column that features profiles of FVSU staff, faculty and students. If you’d like to recommend the next JDY feature, contact Shonda Lewis at (478) 825-6319 or lewiss@fvsu.edu.


Christina D. Milton, writer
Marketing and Communications
(478) 825-6319, miltonc@fvsu.edu