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
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
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.
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