To say that Kathleen Davisson, teaching associate professor, assistant director of Daniels’ School of Accountancy and a certified public accountant, understands the value of a dollar would be a gross understatement. But Davisson’s financial acumen isn’t what led her to establish an endowed scholarship for undergraduate accountancy students at Daniels a few years ago. Rather, her decision stems from a desire to pay it forward.
“I was supported nicely by scholarships and teaching assistant positions when I was a student here,” said Davisson (BSAcc 1991, MAcc 1991), who earned her degrees via the School of Accountancy’s dual degree program. “I’m very happy to continue that tradition.”
Davisson—known across campus as “KED” (her initials)—worked as the vice president of finance for a Denver-area computer training company when she first starting teaching for DU as an adjunct professor. She joined the Daniels faculty full-time in 2003, specializing in accounting information systems and managerial accounting. When she created the scholarship in 2012, Davisson had one priority: Keep it simple.
“I’ve served on the School of Accountancy’s Scholarship Committee for 10 years and it can be frustrating to match donor requirements with students’ situations,” Davisson said. “When I had the opportunity to create my own scholarship, I thought that if I could do anything to help the process, it would be to make a scholarship as open as possible. So, my scholarship can be need-based and it can be merit-based. The idea is to make it very easy for the Scholarship Committee to give out that money.”
And with roughly a dozen scholarship recipients to date, Davisson has succeeded in her mission to disperse the money to as many students as possible—something that is countered by her desire to keep a low profile.
“I try to form good relationships with all of my students, so I wouldn’t say that I form any special connections with students via the scholarship. And that’s intentional. I don’t even have it named after me. I have it named after my brother-in-law who helped endow it,” she said. “I don’t want [recipients] to feel any special responsibility to me, particularly if I’m teaching them in class.”
While she shuns attention and accolades, sometimes Davisson can’t help but garner both: The devoted Pioneer has won three of Daniels’ top awards for excellence over the years: the Daniels Award for Excellence (2009); the C. Thomas Howard Innovative Teaching Award (2010); and the Inclusive Excellence Award for Faculty (2013).
When asked about her award-winning career at Daniels, Davisson replies—no surprise—with humility. “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by my peers, but my career has never been about me,” she said. “I judge my career by my students’ success, not my own.”