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Jack Davis, wife give $5 million for new UB building ; Engineering facility to bear their names

A new engineering building at the University at Buffalo will bear the names of a Clarence businessman and his wife who have given the largest monetary gift in the Engineering School's history, along with assurances of more to come.

Jack Davis and his wife, Barbara, have donated a total of $5 million for the new School of Engineering and Applied Sciences building, which will be called Barbara and Jack Davis Hall, UB announced Tuesday.

Davis, 77, a UB alumnus and three-time congressional candidate, also said a portion of his estate will go to the school upon his death. Money also will be given to the Engineering School after his wife's death.

The wealthy industrialist graduated from UB with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering in 1955, and in 1964 founded I Squared R Element Co. in Akron, which manufactures silicon carbide heating elements.

Davis said Tuesday that he wouldn't have had such success if not for his education at UB.

"I have greatly benefited from the opportunity UB gave me to become an engineer," Davis said. "What I am doing now is preparing my estate, and that includes taking care of UB in return for the education the university gave me."

Davis apparently plans to take care of his employees, too.

None of his children wants to carry on the family business, Davis said, so upon his death, the employees will continue to run the company.

Ownership will be transferred to a legal trust, with protections to prevent the company's sale, and it will be run by a board of trustees elected by the 75 company employees.

"I wanted it to exist beyond my lifetime," Davis said. "It's an asset to my employees No. 1, but also Akron, Newstead and Erie County."

The state paid for more than two-thirds of the $75 million UB engineering building, which is still under construction on the North Campus in Amherst and should be ready for students by fall.

Davis and his wife donated $1.5 million for the new building in 2008. Recently, Davis reached out to UB Engineering Dean Harvey G. Stenger Jr. and donated another $3.5 million.

"This is the largest cash donation by individuals in the Engineering School's history, by far, by a long way," Stenger said. "We thank him."

The new 130,000-square-foot Barbara and Jack Davis Hall -- the school's sixth engineering building -- will be home to departments and centers now scattered among several UB buildings, including computer science and engineering, and electrical engineering.

Stenger hopes the new facilities help attract more top-notch engineering faculty and students to UB.

Davis hopes his gift will encourage others to give to the Engineering School. "It's going to be an outstanding engineering building," he said.


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