As she took on this new role, she had to focus on how to lead a university during such prevalent times while continuing to touch the lives of students, the community, and the world. Could a university like Greenville still give a hands-on experience?
Recently, President Davis, J.D., M.B.A., graciously shared her vision. Embracing tangibility, a term frequently mentioned by Davis, is to capture the essence of connection. Taking on her presidency, she had a “desire for GU students to obtain a collaborative, yet tangible, experience with innovative ideas to connect with our community locally while extending our digital hands through a global lens.”
After some time pondering how she would accomplish this desire, Davis decided, “Our current times could only benefit GU and the importance of looking and reaching beyond our campus doors.” Reaching beyond the doors is the key to connection, mentorship, and networking along with experiences that create lifelong friendships and relationships. Davis continues, “Even when physical connection and face-to-face interaction are limited, there is still a way to connect with others in a safe way.”
Davis shared some examples of how GU is incorporating these “tangible” experiences in safe and creative ways.
The SMART Center, located in the historic downtown Greenville, is one method of connection currently being used. The SMART center is not only a place where Greenville University students and alums are given real-world projects with real-world challenges, but it’s a center that unifies and connects the entire town and surrounding regions. Davis mentions how the SMART Center’s newest restaurant, Rocket Bowls, has partnered with GU. This restaurant gives students employment opportunities and allows them to create richer interactions and experiences with the local community. HSHS Holy Family Hospital has also joined with Greenville University by helping provide all students with excellent medical care. The Jubilee House counseling center in Greenville has also joined hands with GU, offering students six free sessions of private counseling with the option of group counseling once a week. When discussing all of the work that went into creating and maintaining these connections throughout the pandemic, Davis stated, ” GU is working hand and glove with all these resources to make a positive impact on the community.”
It is by pulling together like a family and sharing the same common goal that all these resources come together for good, especially in these trying times. Ultimately, if we accept that tangible experiences are an essential part of learning, then the relationships and friendships we create along the way will be not just for the here and now, but for eternity. Davis acknowledges that “it takes faith” being exercised and trusting in the higher power of who we serve in order to accomplish anything as individuals, a university, and a community. Greenville University is a real experience that leaves a forever mark on every face, heart, soul, and life while empowering and equipping them with the tools to serve one another in love.