SPRINGFIELD, MO. — The Evangel University Alumni Association will honor former professor Dr. Billie Davis — also known for her experience as a child migrant worker whose life was the subject of a movie in the late 1950s — on Saturday, Oct. 11. A Trees of Honor ceremony will be held at 12-noon during the Homecoming Celebration Banquet in the University Plaza Convention Center.
Davis will be honored along with three other former faculty members.
Davis is recognized as the founder of Evangel’s social work program. She spent 11 years at Evangel in a full-time faculty position and served as the chair of the behavioral sciences department for 6 years. She now holds the title professor emeritus.
“Dr. Billie Davis was a strong, visionary force at Evangel,” said Lacey Nunnally, Evangel’s Social Work Program director.
“She founded the Social Work Program and laid the foundation for future growth. Her history at Evangel inspires me, and as a professional in this field, I am honored to follow in her footsteps and benefit directly from her efforts. I am especially pleased to call her friend,” Nunnally said.
Trees of Honor
The Trees of Honor project began as an idea formed by a small group of graduates from the early 1960’s and took root following Springfield’s great ice storm of 2007. The idea was to help replace lost trees and restore the natural beauty of the campus.
Trees have been planted on Evangel’s campus in acknowledgement of the legacy of service each of the recipients has provided to the university. An engraved bronze plaque will be placed at the base of each tree as a permanent tribute to the person being honored.
A unique perspective
Davis grew up as the child of migrant workers, and those early experiences shaped her approach in life. She came to national prominence in 1952 when the Saturday Evening Post ran her story, “I was a Hobo Kid.” The story was then turned into a film by the National Education Association, and was shown in schools for decades to follow.
Before coming to Evangel, Davis spent time as a missionary in Latin America with her husband, Reverend George Davis.
She came to Evangel in 1981 as a professor in the behavioral sciences department. In 1986 she stepped into the role of department chair, a position she held for 6 years. Davis also founded the social work program at Evangel. She retired from full-time teaching at the end of the 1991-92 school year, but remained active in the department on a part-time basis until the fall of 1993
Davis is remembered by former students as a uniquely gifted teacher. Her life experiences shaped the way in which she instructed her students and approached the subject matter. Although her tenure at Evangel was not especially lengthy, the legacy she left behind as an instructor and leader is still remembered today.
Additional Trees of Honor award recipients for 2014 include the following: Dr. Zenas Bicket, former academic dean; Dr. Steve Davidson, former 38-year professor of biology; and John Shows, former music department chair.
For more information, contact University Advancement at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7333.