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College of Education

Charlotte Davis - Distinguished Alumna

 

When young Charlotte Hearne accepted a part-time job working for Dean of Women Luella Galliver shortly after graduating from Laramie High School, she had no idea that most of her 40-year education career would be spent serving students from essentially that same office.

What was clear at the time was that she and her six siblings would go to college, thanks to the commitment of her parents.

“They had let us know from a very early age that we were going to college,” Davis says. “We didn’t necessarily have the money to do it, but we were going to go and figure out how. They did not have a college education but they made sure all of their children did.”

Charlotte enrolled in UW’s secretarial science program in the fall of 1957.

 “If you wanted to be in business, you started as a secretary,” she says. “Major business positions weren’t open to women.

Charlotte had no plans to teach, but her father insisted that also take the courses needed to certify. Dad was right: her first job after graduating from UW in 1960 was teaching at Glendora High School in southern California. 

“I loved the teaching and thought ‘this is what I should be doing,” she says.

But Charlotte quickly learned that she needed to expand her skill set to address her students’ needs.

“They were coming to me with many problems and issues,” she says of her students. “I decided that, if I’m going to be doing this, I’d better learn what I’m doing.”

Ultimately, she chose the UW College of Education and its master’s program in guidance and counseling. Charlotte took classes in Laramie during the summers and returned to California each school year to teach in 1964.   After completing her MA in 1966, Charlotte assumed new responsibilities at GHS:  counselor and director of student activities.

But the call to return to Laramie in 1966 was strong. Dean of Women Margaret “Peg” Tobin hired Charlotte sight unseen to serve as her assistant. She also married Maron Davis (BS ’65, secondary biology education, MS ’67, natural science) that year.

Davis dedicated 34 years of her career to serving generations of UW students, and she spent many of those years working side by side with friend and mentor Tobin. Part of their responsibility was enforcing an evolving set of university rules and regulations.

 “The constant shifting of ways of doing things and understanding the current environment and culture and providing what was needed at the time” was a challenge early in Davis’ career.  She witnessed – and helped to implement - movement away from strict enforcement of policies dictating women students’ behavior (for example, dorm visitation hours and clothing restrictions that prohibited wearing pants) to a more open campus.  

She served on a range of campus work groups and committees over the years, sharing her expertise to enhance the quality of life and services available to UW students.

The other component of her job was far more enjoyable: advising virtually all of UW’s honorary societies and mentoring its student leaders. Charlotte advised Panhellenic Council, Spurs and Chimes. She advised UW’s Mortar Board chapter from 1966-2003 and the Associated Students of UW (ASUW) student government for 22 years. She served her sorority, Delta Delta Delta, in a variety of advisory roles. She also chaired the first UW Minority Student Leadership Initiative. 

Every night during the school year meant one more student organization meeting or event to attend, a schedule that would have exhausted anyone else.

 “I don’t think I ever really burned out,” Davis says. “I got tired a lot. But I had a commitment to what I was doing,”

Later in her tenure at UW, Charlotte launched and advised Freshman Senate. She also developed a cornucopia of programs designed to enhance the new student experience and set them on the path to college success. 

 “I had to think through each aspect of the things that we knew about retention,” she says, and come up with programs and resources to meeting the core needs of freshman students. 

When Davis retired from the UW Office of Student Life in 2000, ASUW representatives acknowledged that,  “from the moment she welcome us to campus during orientation sessions, we knew that there was a person here committed to our success.”

Two scholarship funds honor Davis: The Charlotte H. Davis Scholarship and the Charlotte H. Davis Leadership Fund.

Charlotte’s commitment to women’s leadership development extends beyond the campus boundaries. Among her many service commitments: membership and leadership roles in Zonta International, leadership roles in both the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Women in Education (CWAWE) and the National Association of Women in Education (NAWE) and president of PEO Chapter U.

Charlotte was ready to roll up her sleeves and help wherever she is needed in retirement. For the past five years,  she has been part of the Andros Dental Project, volunteering with husband Maron and Laramie hygienist Chris Walrath to provide dental hygiene education and services to children on Andros Island in the Bahamas. The children – and their teachers and parents – look forward to their annual visit and have made significant life changes in the spirit of protecting their dental health.

Charlotte also serves on the College of Education Advisory Board, which she joined with Maron.

 “It’s been great to learn about what’s going on in the college – the things that are happening that are really exciting,” she says of that volunteer opportunity.

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Distinguished Alumna

Charlotte Davis
2013 Distinguished Alumna Charlotte Davis

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