Belmont parents Tammy (80’) and David Davis established the Davis Family Endowed Mission Fund to support students interested in Christian missions and Christian discipleship.
How did you first decide to be involved with Belmont University?
Several fellow alumni suggested that we meet during homecoming several decades ago. I was thrilled to return to Belmont and catch up with my friends. We began attending basketball games and having lunch or dinner together. I became interested in following Belmont Basketball and with the onset of the internet, I was able to stay abreast of alumni happenings at Belmont. The alumni office impacted me as well with news that kept me connected to Belmont.
When did you make your first gift to Belmont?
The records indicate that I made my first alumni gift in 1990 in the amount of $50. I recall a phone call from a Belmont student asking me to contribute to the needy student fund. I identified with this financial need. While a student at Belmont, I did not have the funds to return to school the fall of my junior year. I had no one to assist me. My plans were to transfer to Middle Tennessee State University and live at home. However, an anonymous donor paid for my tuition that fall which allowed me to return to Belmont to continue pursuit of my degree. I had no money for books the first two months of school, so I borrowed books from fellow students. Then one day, I received a check in the mail from the Woman’s Missionary Union at my church and was able to buy used books. In 1990, I wanted to “pay it forward” to other students who perhaps find themselves in the same place I was as an incoming junior. The donations have risen over the past thirty years as I have been consistent in giving.
Why do you want to support Belmont as an institution?
I respect and believe in the Christian standards upon which Belmont was founded. I am impressed in this modern age that Belmont’s President and Board have been steadfast in maintaining a Christian foundation without apology. I also am impressed with the tremendous growth in student population and academic colleges the past twenty years under President Fisher. The addition of a Law School gave me the perspective that Belmont was no longer to be known as a “music business” school, but an institution of higher learning that is diverse and encompassing. With the new addition of the medical school, I believe Belmont is representative of success when the focus is first on God and then secondly on expanding and enhancing the opportunities for students to study in numerous professional fields. Belmont has risen to superb standards in academics, sports and faith. I am proud to be known as a Belmont University alumna.
(A sidenote – my son, Jeremy Davis, attended Belmont University, Class of 2013. Having him attend my Alma Mater revealed how the story continues. As a note of interest, his freshman roommate was the son of my college roommate. What a small world! He met his bride at Belmont, she was in the class of 2014, then returned to complete her Doctorate in Nursing. She is now on the Heart Transplant Team at Vanderbilt Hospital. My son is employed by HCA, now a partner with Belmont for the new Medical School).
Why are you supporting missions specifically?
While a student at Belmont University, I had the opportunity to participate in local mission projects as well as out of state experiences during spring break and summer through student missions. These experiences were transformative and led me to earn a seminary degree and work under the auspices of the North American Mission Board for many years. I am impressed with the broad spectrum of experiences available to Belmont students overseas and in our homeland. I know the expense of these trips may be out of reach for some students, thus I want to be part of the solution to ensure that anyone who has a desire to serve in missions has that opportunity. Money should not be an impediment.
What about your experience with Belmont inspired this gift?
My personal experience in meeting God while on campus at Belmont in 1976 was profound. My life was literally saved. On a wet October day, as a freshman, I decided to commit suicide. I poured all the pills in my medicine cabinet onto the countertop by the sink. I wondered if the mixture was enough to die. I decided to take a walk, grabbing my raincoat and quickly exiting the back door of Wright Hall. I walked down the road now behind the Belmont parking garage and came to the street. I watched the cars pass wondering if they were going fast enough to kill me by stepping in front of one. I felt a tap on my right shoulder, but turned to see no one there. I heard these words in my mind: Do you want to live forever without God? Which means no goodness, no love, no kindness….. The thought was terrifying for love is what I longed for the most. I turned and walked to the Prayer Chapel in the Bell Tower. Surprisingly the door was unlocked. I walked in and noted the large Bible was turned to Psalm 121, “from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” I sat on the window ledge looking at the storm outside and in that moment surrendered myself to God, asking Jesus to help me know how to live. My life was transformed that day.
The next month, I was invited to go on a mission trip to Jacksonville, Florida. My expenses were covered. This was the first time I ever saw the ocean. The following summer, I took my very first flight to South Carolina where I served ten weeks as a summer missionary. The summer of my sophomore year, I served in Gatlinburg, Tennessee as a missionary. Then upon graduation from Belmont, I was selected by the North American Mission Board to serve for two years as a missionary in Daytona Beach, Florida. This became three years and affirmed my decision to pursue a career in home missions. I completed my master’s degree at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Belmont University had the greatest impact on my life’s work.
As a donor, what would you like to see for Belmont’s future?
I am hopeful with the new president of Belmont working with the current Board of Trustees that the value of keeping the Christian faith as a firm foundation will be of utmost importance. I would like to see a balance in the schools emphasis on academic growth and spiritual growth for all students. I am hopeful any barriers that exist between cultures or faiths will be torn down and students will experience true community at Belmont University. Love and compassion should always be at the forefront of all to which Belmont is committed. I love the new memorial to the former slaves who worked for the Acklen family on the Belmont Property in the 18th century. I want to see Belmont University continue to thrive and flourish, yet never at the expense of forsaking the Christian foundation upon which the founders provided. The love of God is truly the best unifying factor to create a compassionate community for all.
Why would you encourage others to give to Belmont?
Belmont University offers wonderful higher education opportunities across a broad spectrum of study. The Board of Trustees and President have maintained a high level of spiritual and academic integrity. I believe Belmont looks ahead at possibilities, not difficulties, at opportunity, not defeat. I believe Belmont will continue to impact the lives of students far beyond academia. Like me, many will create a new life story and be a part of sharing the love of God in places near and far. The value of a life transformed is priceless. For each one gives of herself to others, who then give of themselves to others, and the story never ends until eternity.