School of Pharmacy

$1.2 million estate gift creates scholarships for KU pharmacy students

William and Virginia Davis
William and Virginia Davis

William Davis never realized his dream of having his own pharmacy. Instead, the University of Kansas alumnus found his success in the corporate world, climbing the ladder to become president of one of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical firms.

A $1.2 million estate gift from his late wife, Virginia Davis, will provide scholarship support for generations of KU pharmacy students.

William Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from KU in 1940. After his death in 1996, Virginia Davis established a charitable remainder trust. She specified that the trust would expire 10 years after her death, with the principal going to KU Endowment for the School of Pharmacy. She died in 2000.

The couple’s son, Stephen Davis, said KU was important to his parents, particularly his father.

He relished his time at KU. My father credited KU for how his life turned out. If it wasn’t for the university, he wouldn’t have had the education to bring forth all that he accomplished during his lifetime.

William Davis began his pharmaceutical career as a sales representative for American Home Products, which later acquired Ayerst Laboratories. He continued his career climb, becoming president of Ayerst, and later retired as chairman of the board. The Davises spent their retirement years in Boynton Beach, Fla.

“To my knowledge, other than serving in the Army, that was about his only job,” said Davis. “At one point, his ultimate dream was to own and operate his own pharmacy. That desire never came to fruition. But he did go on to great accomplishments in his career.”

Ken Audus, dean of the pharmacy school, expressed his gratitude.

“On behalf of the KU School of Pharmacy, I want to thank the Davis family for this generous gift,” said Audus. “The scholarship fund that they have established will create opportunities for KU pharmacy students for many years to come.”

Davis said his hope was that the students who receive the scholarships would experience success in their endeavors throughout their lives.

“Perhaps like my father, they will one day be called ‘chairman of the board,’ ” said Davis.

The William L. and Virginia F. Davis Memorial Scholarship is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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