BSC Office of Communications

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November 21, 2002

Birmingham-Southern College professor named state's best by national groups

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Dr. Natalie Davis, a longtime Birmingham-Southern College political science professor and noted political analyst and pollster, is the 2002 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Alabama Professor of the Year.

The announcement was made today [Nov. 21, 2002] at an awards luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A reception follows this evening on Capitol Hill.

The annual U.S. Professors of the Year Program is sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Begun in 1981, it is the only national awards program that recognizes college and university professors for their teaching.

Davis, who joined the Birmingham-Southern faculty in 1972, was chosen from among seven professors nominated from seven colleges and universities in the state. Faculty members from 46 states including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands were selected for this year's awards. Altogether, 422 professors from 308 colleges and universities were nominated.

Recipients were chosen based on four areas: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contribution to undergraduate education in the institution, community, and profession; and support


from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.

“Natalie Davis truly epitomizes all that this special honor represents,” said BSC President Dr. Neal R. Berte. “Her dedication and commitment to this college and its students and to this community and this state are evident in everything that she accomplishes. She imparts her wealth of experience and knowledge of politics and government unto our students so that they better understand and are more willing to be active participants in the political process and in many areas of government once they leave Birmingham-Southern.”

A native of New York, Davis has taught comparative politics, political marketing, public policy, and statistics, among other subjects, to Birmingham-Southern students for more than 30 years. She also researches, observes, and participates in politics and government.

In 1996, she unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring three-term senator and BSC alumnus Howell Heflin. She conducts political polls and market research surveys through her firm Davis & Associates, and is president and founder of Voir Dire Inc., a jury consulting firm specializing in mock trials and focus groups. She also has participated in several national political conventions.

As one of the region's most well-known analysts on Alabama and Southern politics, Davis is a regular on CNN's “CNN & Company” and Alabama Public Television's “For the Record”; provides election night coverage for Birmingham's four major television stations; and is often quoted in “The New York Times,” “The Washington Post,” and “The Wall Street Journal,” among other media.

She uses her real-life political experiences outside the classroom to educate her students inside the classroom.

“The best thing about Birmingham-Southern College is that I have been able to work with gifted students in a community which is itself a laboratory,” said Davis, the college's longest-tenured female faculty member. “It's easy to translate political science into politics when you bring real-life experience to the classroom.

“It also helps to be able to get major political leaders, journalists, lawyers, and business professionals to help teach a class. If I can get students to see the connection between what they read and what they see, genuine learning takes place. Teaching at Birmingham-Southern just might be the greatest job in the world.”

Davis expands her teaching beyond the classroom walls as well by leading her students on educational trips to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York, and to study democratization in former communist countries such as Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia.

In addition to three decades in the classroom at Birmingham-Southern, Davis also has served the college as dean of Graduate and Adult Studies, chair of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and director of Graduate Studies.

Davis has been active statewide in the education reform movement and in local community programs dealing with youth development and homelessness. She has served on a number of boards including the Leadership Birmingham Steering Committee, Youth Leadership Forum, National Conference for Community and Justice, A+ Research Foundation, and The Women's Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. She is a founder of the Alabama Women's Initiative and The Alabama Solution, an organization that supports women running for public office in Alabama.

Her honors include “Career Woman of the Year” in 1987 by the Birmingham Business and Professional Women's Clubs and one of Birmingham's “Top Ten Women” in 1989 by “Birmingham Business Journal” and SouthTrust Bank. She was a member of Leadership Birmingham's first class and the 1992 class of Leadership Alabama. She was recently named a “Woman of Distinction” by Girl Scouts of the USA and inducted into the Alabama Business and Professional Women's Hall of Fame.

Davis received her bachelor's degree in political science from Stetson University and her doctorate in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by Stetson in 1991.

Dr. Barry Spieler, associate professor of mathematics at Birmingham-Southern, was the Alabama Professor of the Year in 1999.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is a research and policy center located in Menlo Park, Calif., devoted to strengthening the nation's schools and colleges.

With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CASE is the leading professional organization for higher education alumni relations, communications, and fund-raising professionals.







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