Purdue Profiles: Robert Davis

August 24, 2010

Bob Davis, a Purdue alumnus and assistant department head in Engineering Education, has taken on the role of Purdue's loaned campaign representative. (Mark Simons / Purdue University photo)

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Having enjoyed a long and successful career as an engineer and businessman, Bob Davis relishes the opportunity to helps others.

For the past two years Davis, a Purdue alumnus and assistant department head in Engineering Education, has given back to the community through his contributions to United Way of Greater Lafayette, and last year he served as United Way chair for the College of Engineering. This year, he has taken on the role of Purdue's loaned campaign representative.

What does an LCR do?

My job is to learn everything I can about United Way, the agencies it supports and the people it serves. I give presentations around the Greater Lafayette community to explain the incredible amount of need in the area and how United Way and member agencies work to meet those needs.

Part of our LCR training involves touring the agencies and meeting the people who receive support. I've seen firsthand the kinds of situations United Way fundraising helps improve, so I convey that in my talks.

Are there any stories from people you've met that have stuck with you?

I tell a few stories during my presentation. One is about a little boy who saved his life and his mother's by using a refurbished cell phone from YWCA to call for help during an attack from his father. YWCA is one of the 23 agencies supported by United Way of Greater Lafayette.

Another LCR told me a story about a co-worker who was always lukewarm about United Way and said, 'I'm employed. I take care of myself. Everybody else should do the same.' But when the Wabash rose and he lost everything, the Red Cross was there to help.

Funding provided by United Way helps these agencies make terrible situations bearable.

What is this year's fundraising goal?

Purdue's goal is $735,000. The entire campaign goal for our area is $4.5 million based on the assessment of the agencies' needs.
United Way of Greater Lafayette is able to participate in a matching gifts fund provided by the Lilly Foundation in conjunction with the Indiana United Way. Any new contributions or increases to existing donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

Why is it so important for Purdue to support United Way?

We are part of this community. The people United Way helps aren't strangers; they're our neighbors, family members and co-workers. Purdue has been supportive of this effort, but I think there is huge potential for our University to do even more.

Where does your passion for this cause stem?

On a lot of levels, my heart and my head are engaged with United Way. Besides being an engineer, I'm trained as an economist, and it's never made sense to me that we would have perfectly capable people who with just a little assistance could become productive members of society. On a purely objective basis, United Way makes perfect sense.

My heart goes out to those people who've had a bad break or didn't have a chance in the first place. In my business career I traveled extensively, so I've seen what can happen when a disadvantaged community doesn't receive support. The whole society suffers.
Why should others give to United Way?

The message is that this could happen to any of us. We're one flood, fire, or funnel cloud away from needing the Red Cross. We're one illness or accident away from needing the special care and health services from Riggs Community Health Center.

It is important for all of us to examine what we have -- talents, skills, donations or just the time to care -- that could make someone else's life better.

Purdue's United Way Campaign kickoff begins at noon Tuesday, Sept. 14, in the North Ballroom, Purdue Memorial Union.

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