Davis family endows goaltender scholarship, hockey head coach's office

April 15, 2011

University Park, Pa. — Intercollegiate Athletics announced Friday (April 15) a leadership gift from John N. and Karen M. Davis to the Penn State Ice Campaign. The family's gift will endow a full position scholarship for a goaltender as well as the naming gift for the men's hockey head coach's office. The office will be named the "Joseph M. Battista Head Coach's Office" in honor of former Icer head coach and current Associate Athletic Director for Ice Hockey Operations Joe Battista.


The Davis family joins Paul and Nancy Silvis, co-chairs of the Penn State Ice Hockey Campaign, as leading supporters of the ice campaign with this gift, the second major contribution the campaign has received since Terry and Kim Pegula's $88 million commitment last fall for a new ice facility as well as the start of Division I men's and women's ice hockey programs at Penn State in 2012.


"The hockey team becoming a varsity sport is a dream that a lot of us have had since we first put on the Penn State jersey," said John Davis, who played for the Icers from 1981 to 1985. "Karen and I feel fortunate to be able to give back to the University, in particular to help support a scholarship for the ice hockey team. I am also proud to join the effort of a fellow Petroleum Engineering graduate, Terry Pegula, who has made the dream of so many become a reality."


John Davis graduated with a bachelor of science in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering in 1986. A member of the Acacia Fraternity, he served as its president in 1985. Davis was also a Lion Ambassador and a member of Parmi Nous. He went on to earn his MBA from the University of New Orleans in 1990.


A third generation Penn Stater, John Davis' father Richard (Ceramic Engineering '58, MBA '61) and grandfather John N. Reed (Commerce and Finance '24) also graduated from Penn State. Reed was a member of the Nittany Lion basketball team as well as the football and baseball teams. Reed led the varsity basketball team in scoring in 1922, 1923 and 1924, leading the team to a 33-8 record over three years, including 13-1 (1922-23) and 13-2 (1923-24) seasons. A member of the Pennsylvania Football Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Reed was the first Pennsylvania coach to win a state championship in two different sports (football and basketball). Davis' mother, Marty Davis, attended graduate school at Penn State.


A senior engineer for Exxon Company, USA, in New Orleans from 1986-91, John Davis worked as a consulting reservoir engineer for Netherland, Sewell & Associates as vice president and technical advisor from 1991 to 2003. In 2003, he co-founded Alpine Gas Company, an independent oil and gas producer, and he is currently a professional engineer in the state of Texas. Alpine's wells are located primarily in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.


"On behalf of the Athletic Department, I want to thank the Davis family for their generous gift to the Penn State Ice Campaign," said Tim Curley, Penn State Director of Athletics. "Because of gifts like theirs, Penn State will be able to continue to provide quality opportunities for future student-athletes through scholarships to this great university. Additionally, I believe their naming gift in honor of Joe Battista is a fitting tribute for someone who has been ingrained in Penn State hockey as long as Joe has and displayed as much passion as he has for the sport here."

John Davis is a past member of the Graduates of Earth and Mineral Sciences Board of Directors. He and his father endowed an undergraduate scholarship to that college in 1991.


"I decided to come to Penn State because of the opportunity to continue to play ice hockey as well as get a great engineering education," said John Davis. "I chose Petroleum Engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences partly because of the scholarship money available to help fund my education. My father was only able to attend Penn State because of scholarship money. Both of our educations were helped by scholarship money, which instilled in us the desire to give back to the University.


"Not only playing on the Penn State hockey team, but also being a part of running the organization as president of the club in 1984-85 was a big driver in helping me get to where I am today. The hockey club had some tremendous leaders while I was playing, from a great role model for me my freshman year in Joe Battista, to the president in my junior year, Sue Sullivan, who was the first female president of the hockey club. The Penn State hockey organization has always been about winning in the classroom, on the ice and in life."



A member of the Icers from 1981-85, John Davis was the starting goaltender on the club team's 1984 national championship team. He was named Rookie of the Year his first year and also earned All-Star Goalie honors. His 42-19-2 career record made him Penn State's leader in that category when he graduated. He was inducted into the Icers Hall of Fame in 1996. Davis and Battista played together in 1981-82.


"I was pretty emotional when John told me of his plans to name the coach's office after me," said Battista. "I tried to talk him out of it. I wanted the office to at least have his family name on it with mine, but he declined and said he wanted my name alone. I was speechless. I am incredibly honored by what John and Karen have decided to do by naming the men's head coach's office after me, and I thank them for their generous gift to the campaign."


John and Karen Davis married in 1997. Karen is a graduate of Texas A&M, earning a degree in psychology in 1993. The couple has two children, Avery, age 11, and Addison, age 9. Karen currently volunteers her time with several organizations including the children's schools and the family's church, Hackberry Creek Church, where John is an elder.


"I hope this gift is an inspiration to all my fellow teammates, as well as those that came before and after me. I hope they can look back and see all of what Penn State has done for them and leave a legacy by supporting the Penn State varsity hockey team and the Penn State Ice Campaign," said John Davis.


Pegula Ice Arena is slated to open in late September 2013. The ice arena will be the only major rink within an 80-mile radius and will be on par with the best collegiate facilities in the nation. The facility will be built on the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive, directly west of the Bryce Jordan Center. It will include two ice sheets and other features that will allow it to be used for a broad range of campus and community activities, from commencement ceremonies to kinesiology classes to public skating sessions and youth camps.


The facility will provide new training and performance opportunities for a figure skating academy and for the University's women's ice hockey team, which will also transition from club to varsity status. The arena also will offer ice time to recreational and high school hockey programs, as well as intramural and local speed skating and broomball clubs. The arena will be able to host events such as professional ice shows and National Hockey League and American Hockey League exhibition games, generating tourism and other economic impacts in the region.


In conjunction with the largest private gift in the history of the University that funds this arena, Penn State will establish NCAA Division I men's and women's ice hockey programs. The two teams are slated to begin competition in the 2012-13 season.

"As co-chairs of the Penn State Ice Campaign, Nancy and I would like to thank the Davises for their leadership gift," said Paul Silvis. "The Davis family gift has demonstrated how important Penn State hockey was to their career and their families, and it highlights the importance of the relationships they established. John felt the same emotional tingle that Nancy and I did when we made our gift! Nancy and I urge others to make an assist to help pass the puck over the 10 million dollar goal line. It takes gifts of all sizes from committed Icer families to turn the dream of a new state-of-the art ice arena into a reality."


Gifts to the Penn State Ice Campaign will count toward the overall goal of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The campaign's top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.


For more information about the Penn State Ice Campaign, please contact RJ Gimbl of the Nittany Lion Club at 814-863-GIFT.


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Last Updated April 15, 2011