Weber State University professor Brian Davis died on Nov. 29 at age 59. Davis was an interfaith trailblazer, respected professor of business administration and a Century Institute scholar in the Goddard School of Business and Economics.
Davis was an active member in the local community as well as internationally. He did a lot of research in the local area, working for many religious communities, particularly focusing on the Muslim and Buddhist immigrant communities.
Davis traveled all over the world and worked with many charitable groups, including the Working Group on Poverty and Development for the World Council of Religious Leaders, and was on the advisory board of the United Nations, based in Bangkok, Thailand.
Davis’ identical twin brother, Davis campus vice provost Bruce Davis, said his brother always had an ability to unite communities together and was a committed pacifist.
“He was all around a really great man and he will be missed terribly,” he said. “He was a great brother . . . it leaves a big hole.”
Bruce Davis said he remembers a time he will always smile about when he was in Honolulu, Hawaii, attending a conference. While he and a few other board members were standing outside, a group of Hari Krishna dancers came down the street. All of a sudden, one of the dancers ran up to Bruce, calling him Brian and asking him to come dance with them.
“It startled my friends a bit, but it goes to show how known he was,” Bruce Davis said. “He was very ecumenical and worked with a lot of people in many faith traditions.”
Brian Davis was the adviser for the Muslim Student Association at WSU, and arranged for a Muslim prayer space on campus. He also served as secretary of the Utah Buddhist Association and was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ogden. He was also the founding director of the MBA program and served on the WSU faculty for more than 25 years.
“Brian was one of the best people I’ve ever known. He was sincerely dedicated to improving life for others,” wrote Betty Bowman Kusnierz, WSU director of academic finance and administration, in a personal Facebook message. “He was an inspiration and has left a positive and lasting mark at WSU.”
Kusnierz worked closely with Brian Davis on budget-related issues and in processing his expenditures for the Presidential Distinguished Professor Award. She said that, in all her dealings with him, he always took the time to talk to her. “He expressed such a passion for what he did and clearly loved his work at Weber State.”
Brian Davis received the university’s Centennial Faculty Teaching Award, the University Academic Advising Award, and the George and Elizabeth Lowe Innovative Teaching Award. He was named the Rodney H. Brady Crystal Master Teacher in 2000, and he received WSU’s John S. Hinckley Award for excellence in teaching, service and scholarship in 2002.