Don Davis Program in Ethical Leadership

About Don Davis Sr.

Don Davis Sr.For 40 of his 62 years, Donald W. Davis dedicated his life to advertising. Over the years, he presented his philosophy of advertising to thousands of professionals and students.

Davis (1986-1959) began his career as an advertising manager for a conglomerate of newspapers in Springfield, Mass., in 1919. Early on, he expressed concerns about cigarette and alcohol advertisements that could be considered harmful. Davis was able to persuade the Springfield newspapers’ publisher to refuse advertising dollars from the cigarette and alcohol manufacturers, setting a precedent in the newspaper and advertising industries.

Among his many professional affiliations, Donald Davis served as vice president of the Advertising Federation of America (AFA) during the 1920s and as national president of Alpha Delta Sigma from 1947 to 1949. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the New England Newspaper Advertising Executives Association from 1935 to 1936, and the Board of Directors of the AFA in 1948.

Davis will be most remembered for his 37 years of teaching, predominantly at Penn State. In 1936, he was invited to establish a curriculum in advertising at the University, and under his leadership, enrollment in advertising courses grew to be the largest in the country.