John R. "Jack" Davis, BS '55

Samuel P. Capen Award

By Barbara A. Byers

Release Date: March 20, 2012


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Jack Davis

John R. "Jack" Davis, engineer, entrepreneur, former military officer and philanthropist, is a pillar of the Western New York community and a longtime supporter of UB.

While a student at UB he completed Marine Corps Officer Training as a reservist, and after graduating he served for three years as a deck officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. He began work as an engineer in 1958, first at General Motors as a maintenance engineer, then at the Carborundum Company as a supervising sales engineer.

The longtime member of the UB Alumni Association is the founder and owner of I Squared R Element Company, a manufacturer and seller of heating elements for high-temperature furnaces, which are sold in all industrialized nations throughout the world. Davis is a firm believer in preserving American jobs and, as such, has never outsourced jobs overseas.

In fact, keeping American manufacturing jobs was a major theme in Davis's various bids for elected office. Though unsuccessful, he remains true to his mission to save American jobs, farms and industries, which he believes are being adversely affected by free trade policies. As an employer, he is known for a generous profit-sharing program and has also made arrangements for the business to continue well into the future by creating a trust agreement that will, at a future date, give the I Squared R Element Company to his employees upon his death.

In 2008 Davis and his wife, Barbara, made an initial gift to UB of $1.5 million for the naming rights to the state-of-the-art "clean room" for the new engineering building on the North Campus. Though the largest gift in the school's history at the time, Davis was not satisfied and asked to do more. That instinct resulted in an additional donation of $3.5 million, and in 2011 UB proudly opened a new 130,000-plus-square-foot building called Barbara and Jack Davis Hall.

The couple has also committed to donating their estate to the school upon their death. The industrialist has said that he is inspired to give back to UB because of how his education prepared him for a successful career.