Director of Administrative Systems, Information Systems
Computer Science Major
The rivalry between Knox and Monmouth College's athletic teams dates
back to 1888.
Alumni of both schools often make it to either Galesburg or Monmouth to watch an athletic event between the two institutions and cheer for their respective alma maters.
Victor Davis is one of them.
Over the years, Davis has attended a few games here and there between the two schools, but he does not participate in the rivalry.
"I just enjoy watching the kids play," he said. "I thought about getting a Monmouth cap and a Knox cap, cutting them in half and sewing them together so one side would say Knox and one Monmouth, but I decided against that."
Davis does not cheer for either Knox or Monmouth, because he has ties to both of them. He graduated from Knox in 1987 with a degree in computer science. He then started working at Monmouth College as a math tutor, and a computer processor and researcher for their admissions office. Today, he is in charge of all Monmouth College's administrative data systems.
Davis heard about Knox at a college fair at his high school, Wendell Phillips, Chicago's oldest predominately black high school. He made an overnight campus visit, sat in on a couple of classes and added Knox to his college list. Some of the other colleges he was considering were Michigan State University and the University of Illinois-Chicago.
The size of the institution drew him to Knox.
"At the University of Illinois-Chicago, I got a call saying there was an issue with my financial aid. I went down to the office. Half a day there and all I had to do was sign a form," said Davis, who grew up on Chicago's South Side with two brothers and two sisters. "That is when I really started to look at Knox."
Davis, 46, who stands about 6-foot, with short black hair and hints of gray and white, recalls that during his childhood, he spent his weekdays riding his bicycle along Lake Michigan and his weekends earning some cash. Unlike many of his friends, he didn't play sports in high school.
But he played sports when he came to Knox and knew what he wanted to do for a living when he got there.
"I ran track and I was on the wrestling team my sophomore and junior year," he said. "I stopped both to concentrate on my major my senior year. Several terms I had math, physics and computer science in the same term. I knew out of high school that I wanted to be a computer programmer, at the time that field was just taking off."
While at Knox, Davis changed as a person, and he took what he learned on Knox's 90-acre campus to Monmouth.
"Knox taught me how to be a professional out in the real world. It was really the faculty that changed me - the professionalism that they used in teaching their courses. I think that is the biggest thing that I gained," Davis said. "A lot of them had an open door policy and if you had any questions they would answer them. That is the way I work now.
"I call the employees at the college my customers. No question is a dumb question. I spend as much time as they need answering their questions. That is the same approach the faculty members had. I would not have gotten that somewhere else I don't think."
When he began working at Monmouth, Davis got flak from fellow Knox alums.
"I got asked why I would go work at Monmouth and I would answer, ‘Two words; student loans,'" he said with a chuckle. "I was actually surprised at all the people from Knox who were working at Monmouth when I got there."
Davis left Monmouth after eight years of service and went to work back at his alma mater.
"At Monmouth, he was working on the system that we had put in. It was called the CARS system, at that time," said Steve Hall, who shared an office with Davis for a few years, and is the senior associate director of Knox's computer and telecommunications center.
"He applied, was a Knox alum, had experience on the system that we had. ... Him coming in and working on the administrative system is what freed me to go off and work on building a college network - all of the Internet and network services that we have today," Hall said. "He came in and really helped us get it off the ground. Getting someone who had been here was a tremendous help, plus his professional experience."
Five years later, Davis was back at Monmouth.
"They had a position open as director of administrative systems, so it was just a career move," Davis said. "If it weren't for that, I would probably still be at Knox right now."
On a regular basis, Davis uses a programming technique that he learned in class. Daily, he has to be patient.
"Patience. That is another thing I picked up from the faculty members at Knox," he said. "Being in the computer industry, computers can really make you mad, and you have to have patience - step back to see what's causing the problem."
Both he and his wife Janet, a fellow Knox alum, have sometimes had to use patience when raising their son Victor, Jr., who once hid from his mom inside a rack of clothes, while shopping at Walmart, when he was about two-years-old.
Victor, Jr., a 2010 Galesburg High School grad, stands at about 6-foot-5, was a power forward on the Silver Streaks basketball team and was nominated for the McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Game this past season.
His father has also played a few games of hoops.
"I played a little bit of basketball with him," Hall said. "He wasn't a great basketball player, but he was always the muscle. He was the guy that we put in who had five fouls to give. He always enjoyed that. We always played in the Bronze Turkey game, which is the faculty-staff game against Monmouth."
Victor, Jr. is currently attending Illinois Wesleyan University and will be playing basketball for the Titans. His dad never pushed him to continue his education at Knox or Monmouth. He just gave advice.
"I just told him you have to stay focused," Victor, Sr. said. "College is different than high school. You are either going to sink or swim ... Don't hesitate to ask questions."
To Victor, Sr., Knox is like an extended family, and he receives questions from his family members when he calls them on the telephone, emails them, or talks to them in person.
"He was well liked by a lot of people," Hall said. "Today, he can walk in any office on campus, and any of the old-timers around will walk up and throw an arm around him and ask him how he is doing. He comes over to a football game every now and again. Everybody knows him, and everybody loves him from the time he was a student to now.
"He has done quite well. He is a key part of the operation over there at Monmouth. He is very versatile, a very smart guy, and very well liked. If we could get him back, I would hire him instantly."
This profile appeared in "Galesburg Is Knox: Breaking the Bubble," a senior captstone project by Knox College student Matthew Wheaton '10 that explored connections between the city of Galesburg and Knox. View more of Wheaton's project.
Photograph of Victor Davis by Evan Temchin '10.