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UB Engineering Building to be Named for Jack and Barbara Davis

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: January 11, 2011

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Barbara and Jack Davis Hall is slated for completion in September, and will serve as the front door to a quad-like campus setting for UB Engineering.

The new UB engineering building will be named Barbara and Jack Davis Hall to honor the couple who have given $5 million toward the facility. (Photo: K.C. Kratt)

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will name its new building Barbara and Jack Davis Hall to honor the Western New York couple who has given $5 million toward the construction and enhancement of the facility.

Davis, a well-known industrialist and 1955 graduate of the UB engineering school, said he and Barbara also will give a portion of his estate to the school upon his death and the balance when Barbara dies. He said he is inspired to give back to UB because of how his education prepared him for a successful career.

"I have greatly benefited from the opportunity UB gave me to become an engineer," Davis said. "What I am doing now is preparing my estate and that includes taking care of UB in return for the education the university gave me."

The Davises, who gave $1.5 million to the school in support of the new building in 2008, have given another $3.5 million to the project, for a total of $5 million, the largest donation by individuals in the engineering school's history.

UB Engineering Dean Harvey G. Stenger Jr. said the school is grateful to Davis not only for this generous gift, but also for his longtime support of the Western New York economy by providing good jobs at his Akron-based company, I Squared R.

"Jack knows from personal experience what it means to work your way through college and build your own business," Stenger said. "As a result, he knows the value of strong companies to producing economic growth in our region. He has spent his career creating good-paying jobs for graduates. And he has hired many of our graduates and given them the chance of a lifetime: to work at what they know. For that, and for his very generous support of this outstanding facility, we thank him."

UB President John B. Simpson added his thanks to Davis, who he hailed as a true believer in UB and in public higher education.

"Jack Davis is the personification of the American dream, as well as a fierce believer in the power of public higher education to improve people and regions," Simpson said. "We are indebted to him for his investment in UB Engineering and for his giving back by hiring the UB graduates who follow in his impressive footsteps."

Davis, who served in the Marine Corps and as a deck officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, worked for large corporations, including GM and Carborundum, following graduation from UB.

In 1964, he founded I Squared R, the nation's only manufacturer of silicon carbide and molybdenum disilicide heating elements. I Squared R products are used in the manufacturing of other products such as flat-panel display glass, fiber optics and solar panels.

Known for his generous employee profit-sharing plans, Davis said in addition to taking care of UB, he also is making arrangements to ensure his business and staff will continue to succeed.

"I think this company is an asset to Erie County and New York State, because we are the only manufacturer of this product. The best way to have this survive is to give it to the people who can run it best. So when I die, by trust I am giving the company to the employees," he said. "The company has been an asset to UB, too, because without this source of income that I've had over the years, I wouldn't be able to make this gift to UB Engineering."

Designed by Perkins+Will architects, the new engineering building -- a significant milestone in the UB 2020 strategic plan to transform UB into a premier 21st-century public research university -- is under construction on the North Campus and slated for completion in September 2011. Located just north of Bonner Hall, it will serve as the engineering school's front door to a quad-like campus setting for UB Engineering.

The 130,000-plus-square-foot Barbara and Jack Davis Hall will be home to departments and centers now scattered among several UB buildings, including computer science and engineering; electrical engineering; the Center of Excellence in Document Analysis and Recognition (CEDAR); and the Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors (CUBS). The new building will feature five signature spaces, several of which already have been funded by generous donors:

▪ The Bansal Atrium -- Funded through a gift from loyal UB friends and business acquaintances Ravinder K. Bansal, PhD, and his wife, Pratibha Bansal, MD, the first-floor atrium will serve as a central entrance to welcome all visitors: students, faculty, staff and friends. The light-filled space also will be used for special events.

▪ The Electrical Engineering Clean Room -- This 5,000-square-foot room will allow for the intricate work of fabricating nanodevices. Within this highly controlled atmosphere, pollutants and airborne particles are minimized through an extensive filtration system. "Vibration-free" facilities will allow faculty researchers to conduct the sensitive measurements needed for nanotechnology research.

▪ The Agrusa Auditorium -- A gift from UB alumni Russ and Paula Agrusa will fund this technologically advanced, first-floor cybertorium, to be equipped with sophisticated communication devices to accommodate interactive classes, multi-media presentations and video conferences. Session leaders may access communications that can be shared through a rear-projection screen and sound system.

▪ The Stevens Courtyard -- Engineering alumnus and business owner Scott Stevens and his wife, Colleen, named this picturesque courtyard through a significant gift. Adjacent to the new building, it will provide a natural outdoor setting to be enjoyed by students, faculty and all visitors to the new UB Engineering site.

▪ The Smart Room -- The concept of "smart" logic will be showcased in this computer science laboratory that exhibits intelligent behavior and the capability of understanding spoken languages. The advanced learning environment will include technologies -- sensors, computers and wireless communications -- that incorporate security and safety. Smart technologies have current and future real-world applications in homes, hospitals, assisted-living communities, airports and battlefields.

The state-of-the-art facility being built by Turner Construction features numerous sustainable building strategies, qualifying it for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification. It will enable UB Engineering to take engineering education into the next century, with updated classrooms and laboratories that support instruction and research in nanotechnology, pattern recognition and bio-based security systems. Total costs of the building are estimated at $75 million; New York State has provided $49.6 million of that amount.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.