Articles

Donna Davis, Marketing Professor and Former Chair, Retires

By Keith Morelli

Donna Davis

TAMPA (May 12, 2021) -- Donna Davis, a Muma College of Business professor since 2013, former chair of what is now the School of Marketing and Innovation, and academic director of the Monica Wooden Center for Supply Chain Management and Sustainability, retired this month. She plans to continue mentoring supply chain students, alumni and junior colleagues and finish a few research projects but other than that, she said, the future is wide open.

“My first plan is to have no plan, no appointments, no meetings, no grading, no email,” she said. “Well, okay, the email is one step too far. I do not know what will be next, but I am drawn to volunteering my time in the effort to protect voter rights.”

Following nearly 20 years in college administration at a liberal arts college, Davis changed course in 2003 to begin her career as an assistant professor teaching marketing and supply chain management at Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. Six years later, she earned a Georgie G. Snyder Professorship and assumed the role of coordinator of the Global Supply Chain Management Program.

Davis came to USF eight years ago as an associate professor and co-director of what then was the Center for Supply Chain Management. In 2019, Monica Wooden, founder of MercuryGate International, a global supply chain firm, donated $5 million to the Muma College of Business, which named the center in honor of her gift.

“Hands down, my biggest accomplishment was the launch of the undergraduate and graduate degrees in supply chain management,” Davis said. “This accomplishment was built on the foundation of the Monica Wooden Center for Supply Chain Management and Sustainability, which was achieved in collaboration with Jim Stock and Monica Wooden. We would not have the center or the degrees if we did not have the generous support of Monica Wooden.”

There were some significant challenges through her career here at USF, she said. Like taking on the role of department chair at the same time the college was developing the center, proposing two new degrees and hosting the inaugural Florida Supply Chain Summit.

“I ran up against the limit of 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week,” she said. “Those three years, though, were extremely rewarding.”

Elaine Singleton is the director of the Monica Wooden Center for Supply Chain Management and Sustainability, hired by Davis two years ago.

 “There are few times in our lives when a visionary leader – an amazing leader who embraces discovery and who follows the rich collaborative journey toward true transformational talent development, uniquely and intensely inspires us,” said Singleton, who interviewed with Davis for the center’s directorship in May 2019.

“What began as an initial meet and greet turned into a plane trip to Tampa three weeks later to meet with Donna and the supply chain faculty,” Singleton said. “As a 40-year industry executive, I was blown away by Donna’s masterful insights of the vision for industry/university collaboration, curriculum development, student internship/job placement and the cognizance of student transition success indicators in the workplace.”

Singleton is sorry to lose such a valuable resource as Davis.

“On behalf of our students, business partners, fellow USF faculty and administration: Dr. Donna Davis, you are an amazing and inspirational leader and it’s your time to celebrate your exemplary years of service,” Singleton said.

Over the past year, the pandemic highlighted the importance of supply chain management, and Davis heard about it … often.

“Toilet paper,” she said. “Before the toilet paper shortage in March 2021, people would ask (politely) what I did for a living. When I replied that I am a professor of supply chain management at USF, the response would be ‘Whaaa?’

“After we all ran out of toilet paper, the response is now ‘Ahhhh, can you explain why … ?’ Fill in the blank … with the status of vaccine distribution, rising cost of lumber, rental car stock-outs, etc.”

From now on, someone else will address those questions, likely someone who Davis mentored or worked with at the center.

The time is right to step aside, she said. Spending more time with her parents was a contributing factor in her decision to retire, reached last year when her 91-year-old father fell and broke his hip.

“I realized that my time with my parents is rapidly dwindling,” she said, “and I want to be here for them.”