In March 2007, President Don Kassing announced that the San José State University College of Engineering was the recipient of the largest private individual gift in the history of SJSU. Mr. Charles W. Davidson's gift of $15 million also shares the honor of being the largest individual gift to the California State University System.
Mr. Davidson's gift supports student success and faculty excellence, leading-edge engineering, innovation, and globalization. Dr. Belle Wei, former Dean of the College of Engineering, is proud to have Mr. Davidson as the namesake of the college because he is an exemplary model of the college's values. “Charles Davidson believes in the college's mission to enable diverse and promising students to receive a quality engineering education with the goal of advancing humanity. His gift will transform the college and help us achieve a new level of excellence in preparing our students to thrive in today's dynamic and competitive world.” The CSU Board of Trustees approved naming the college in his honor.
Charles W. Davidson Profile
Leaving one's imprint on history is reserved for those individuals who are willing to take risks, forgo the security of the status quo, and remain true to their vision of the world. Bay Area real-estate magnate, self-made man, and philanthropist Charles W. Davidson has left an indelible imprint on history by donating the largest private individual gift in the history of San José State University to the College of Engineering.
Mr. Davidson moved to San José in 1952, migrating west from his birthplace in Oklahoma. Shortly after arriving, he met and married the woman who became his lifelong companion, Anita ('51 Education), and then worked to finish the college education he had begun in Oklahoma. Mr. Davidson graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from SJSU in 1957 and joined the City of San José as an engineer. The primary author of the San José city charter, Mr. Davidson was influential in shaping local civic policy for over five decades.
After several years of loyal service to the city, and with the full support and encouragement of Anita, Mr. Davidson decided to go out on his own, opening a private civil engineering firm in San José. His hard work and astute business skills led him to become one of the largest and most successful real estate developers in the Bay Area and the founder of a number of companies: DKB Homes; L&D Construction; DKD Property Management; Davidson Homes; and the Charles W. Davidson Co., Consulting Civil Engineers. Some of these companies are still active today.
A champion of the people, Mr. Davidson remains committed to the issues and causes close to his heart and home. He has a construction company that specializes in non-profit facilities, and he personally manages a multi-million dollar pension plan on the behalf of his many employees. A “child of the Depression Era,” his proudest achievement is “building 5,000 subsidized housing units at a time when it wasn't popular to do so.” He also supports the San Juan Bautista Child Development Center and the YWCA of San José.
For Mr. Davidson, the world is his university. An avid reader and lifelong learner, he is a student of life; knowledge and education are ends in themselves, and this is why he is an ardent supporter of San José State University. Throughout the years, he has faithfully attended Spartan football games, served on the Tower Board, and endowed a scholarship as well as a faculty chair in Civil Engineering.
Mr. Davidson has been inspired to give $15 million to San José State University's College of Engineering because, in his eyes, it is a university with countless talented and ambitious students. SJSU students have the kind of potential that Mr. Davidson admires and he himself embodies. He wants to be part of the ongoing support of the school and part of offering SJSU the opportunity to continue to produce bright, committed engineers who can contribute to a world where the possibilities for progress are endless.
Sharing the honor of donating the largest individual gift to the California State University System, Mr. Davidson also hopes to inspire other donors across the larger landscape of California to provide financial support to the state education system. He realizes that the ongoing strength of California depends on the caliber of its educational institutions, and the commitment of its citizens, young and old, to keep the system strong: “The thing that everybody in California needs to get into their heads is that we've been a great state for 150 years, but there's no divine ordinance that says we'll stay great and always be prosperous. We're only going to stay a great state as long as we citizens continue to do what we need to do to promote our business and educational institutions. Supporting San José State University is part of that work. It's important work and we should all be contributing to the cause.”
As the beneficiaries of Mr. Davidson's enduring optimism and belief in developing human potential, San José State University and the College of Engineering are proud to be part of the history that Mr. Davidson has made.