CMU names business school for benefactor

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Ron Davis speaks at a ceremony establishing the Davis School of Business at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. The former entrepreneur serves on the CMU Board of Trustees and also established a program to help students earn college degrees. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Ron Davis watched as a sign was unveiled designating the Davis School of Business at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

But only moments before in a ceremony celebrating the event, Davis designated a distinction. “It’s not about the name on the building,” he said.

What’s important, he said, is what happens inside.

Davis has played a role in what happens inside as a member of the CMU board of trustees, founder of a program providing scholarships to students and mentor who shares his experiences as an entrepreneur and business executive.

CMU President Tim Foster described that role in calling Davis “the most generous philanthropic person I’ve ever known.”

Christine Noel, head of the business department at CMU, said Davis helps students achieve their dreams. Naming the business school for Davis adds prestige to the program, Noel said.

But she told Davis she’s eager for him to contribute in still other ways. “We want to learn from you.”

Davis worked in marketing at General Foods and helped launch Country Time Lemonade.

He went on to found and help build the Perrier Group of America, a bottled water company that included not only the Perrier brand, but also the Arrowhead, Deer Park, Great Bear, Ozarka, Poland Springs and San Pellegrino brands.

After selling the Perrier Group of America to Nestle in 1994, Davis founded Davis Capital and used private equity to support other entrepreneurs and ventures. The companies with which he worked included Celestial Seasonings, Continental Container and Greenwich Technology.

Davis subsequently devoted his efforts to not-for-profits, including health care and mental health initiatives in the Vail Valley of Colorado. He served as chairman of the Vail Valley Medical Center from 2004 to 2014.

He was appointed to the CMU board of trustees earlier this year.

In addition to his other philanthropic endeavors, Davis founded the Guardian Scholars program to provide scholarships and other support to students to enable them to earn college degrees. He expanded the program to more than 70 colleges and universities, including CMU.

Foster said Davis’ investment in students also constitutes a long-term investment in the community.

Davis said his financial contributions to CMU will continue to go to help students. In addition to the Guardian Scholars program, the Cody Lyster Memorial Scholarship will be named in honor of a CMU student who died of COVID-19.

While Davis stressed the importance of what goes on in the building, he said he was grateful to have his name associated with the school of business. “Thank you. I’m honored. What can I say? I’m a lucky guy.”