Alumni entrepreneur’s gift launches CommVentures

May 12, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A Penn State alumnus with a proven entrepreneurial record has provided a $100,000 gift to establish and endow a new funding mechanism that will empower faculty and students in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications to make their own impact as entrepreneurs.

Brad Davis, who earned his journalism degree in 1961, and his wife, Bailey, provided the lead gift for CommVentures — a privately supported fund created to address important societal questions through research and to generate viable business models with the potential to revolutionize modes, methods and the impact of communications.

The expertise and impact of Bellisario College faculty members ranges from artificial intelligence to tapping white spaces on the television spectrum as a means to provide rural broadband access, and from the impact of health and science communications to developing mesh wireless networks that protect against digital spying.

Through the work CommVentures, the Bellisario College will be positioned to become an agent of positive change both in and out of the classroom. The approach is envisioned as a way to build upon the success of Invent Penn State, the groundbreaking initiative founded in 2015 that has allowed the University to put economic advancement and entrepreneurship at the heart of its mission.

With the fund established, grants will be available to support faculty-led endeavors that engage students and provide real-life experiences.

Dean Marie Hardin said the Davises’ gift will play an instrumental role in the impact and success of the Bellisario College.

“By creating entrepreneurial opportunities for faculty and students, the Bellisario College is poised to join University-wide efforts to invest talent and resources in strengthening Penn State’s economic impact, an important fulfillment of the University’s land-grant mission,” Hardin said. “Brad and Bailey have already begun to shape the entrepreneurial vision Bellisario College and we are deeply appreciative of their continued support of our people and programs — and the vision we have for our ongoing success.”

Not surprisingly, Brad Davis has spent much of his career investing in people and organizations with potential for impact. Davis, an advertising professional turned entrepreneur, serves as the managing partner, with his son, of Ridge Capital Partners LLC. As Brad's career changed from advertising to entrepreneurship, and as the world of private equity eventually changed, he remained focused on growth and improvement, an approach that he has also applied to his philanthropy.

He and his wife created the Brad and Bailey Davis Media Innovator-in-Residence Fund in 2018.

Supporting CommVentures was appealing because of the potential he saw at Penn State.

“I’ve been impressed with the approach Penn State and President Eric Barron have taken to address innovation on campus,” Davis said. “The LaunchBox, the introduction of start-up students summarizing their projects at pep rallies, and the migration of those concepts to the various colleges have been impressive.

“The Bellisario College is a natural innovation link within the University and also with external U.S. marketplaces. CommVentures is the ideal entity to promote new communications ideas and technology to these sectors and concurrently motivate students to think out of the box, enhance their educational experience and even possibly gain economic rewards.” 

General information about CommVentures and additional opportunities to support the endeavor is available by contacting Jose Lugaro,  the director of development in the Bellisario College, at jose@psu.edu.

This gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated May 12, 2020