President Houston Davis grew teary-eyed during his speech at his investiture in Reynold’s Performance Hall on Oct. 26, where he was officially recognized as the 11th president of UCA.
Davis said the purpose of the investiture was to reflect on the university and his past and get a glimpse into the future.
“This is the 11th chapter, if you will, in the university’s history, so [the investiture]is marking that event and then
it’s setting the stage for some exciting times ahead,” Davis said.
When Davis spoke, he thanked his mentors for what they taught him and he thanked his family for helping him get to where he is.
While he talked about these individuals, he grew emotional several times.
Davis specifically thanked two professors from his college days and said they taught him that seemingly
random student interaction isn’t meaningless and can lead to something more.
“Asking a student how they’re doing might just lead to a simple exchange of pleasantries, but it can
also represent the first time in a while that a lonely or disconnected student has been engaged in a meaningful
and personal way,” Davis said. “In those moments, you showed me how to truly be present in the exchange and to really realize that a thousand of those little moments are what create a caring campus culture.”
Davis also thanked his family, starting with his parents Lynda and James Davis.
“Through the blessing of adoption, you brought me and Matt into your lives and passed on so many gifts that really, to me, were a roadmap to human decency,” Davis said, choking up.
At one point during his speech, Davis raised his fist to his lips and took several deep breaths.
He ended his speech by thanking his immediate family, including his wife and his two sons.
“You all represent the good that I’ve aspired to,” Davis said, “whether as a husband, father or in any professional
job. When I manage to live up to the type of person I want to be for the four of you, everything in life just falls into place.”
At the reception in the McCastlain ballroom after the investiture, Davis said he was surprised by how overwhelmed he became during his speech.
“There’s no way that I am where I am in life without those people that I named,” Davis said. “They have nurtured me, they’ve protected me, they’ve encouraged me, they’ve put my feet to the fire; so I think just thinking about all of that was what overwhelmed me.”
Before Davis’ speech, faculty and students lined up behind the podium to talk about him. Some common aspects that students and faculty brought up were his enthusiastic personality, his leadership skills and his vision.
SGA President Hershila Lalu commented on Houston Davis’s personality and leadership during her speech.
“His involvement with students, infectious energy and upbeat personality have greatly contributed to UCA’s
positive environment,” Lalu said.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson attended and stood at the podium to talk about what Davis could contribute to UCA.
“Dr. Davis, you’ve come with a distinguished background, with a great history in academia and education and we are thrilled, as students said, with your passion and with your leadership,” Hutchinson said.
In his speech, Hutchinson recalled how UCA got to where it is today and explained what he thought Davis could
contribute to UCA and the state of Arkansas as a whole.
“Dr. Davis, I like symbolism,” Hutchinson said. “We’re excited about the future and we recognize, under your leadership, that we’ve only scratched the surface of the contributions of the University of Central Arkansas to our growth, to our freedoms and all that we enjoy as a state.”
Davis said his vision for UCA is to aid in the growth of the university.
“Being an engaged university is waking up every morning and saying, ‘We’ve got a lot of talent here, we’ve
got a lot of assets in terms of services. How can we best position UCA to be a catalyst for change? How can we be an entity that’s willing to come to the table and work to advance the state?’” Davis said.