Joel Davis Faculty Scholar in Mathematics
In 2012, Jerry Jacoby, ’62, ’66, M.S. ‘68 established the Joel Davis Endowed Faculty Scholar to honor his professor and mentor, Joel Davis. Professor Davis greatly influenced Jacoby while he pursued his master’s degree in mathematics at OSU – and Jacoby pledged that if he had the means, he’d create a position in Davis’ name one day. The Joel Davis Endowed Faculty Scholar supports a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics in the College of Science focused on numerical analysis research.
Jerry Jacoby was born in the Parkrose neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, in 1940 to a working-class family. Jacoby recalled that unlike his peers, he always knew he was going to college – and that it would be OSU. He went on to earn three degrees from OSU: first, a bachelor’s degree in political science, followed by a stint as a supply officer in the army. Wanting to change career tracks, Jacoby went back to OSU for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics.
During Jacoby’s graduate studies, Davis was his major professor and mentor, a specialist in numerical and applied analyses who pushed Jacoby to be a top student and gave generously of his time. Jacoby recalled spending entire days at the library, leaving only for class and meetings with Davis.
Davis’ career in the OSU Department of Mathematics spanned 31 years, during which he served on the OSU Faculty Senate and the Mathematics Department Advisory Committee, and as head adviser of the math department and director of the department’s summer program. Tragically, two weeks after retiring, Davis died in a bike accident in Corvallis in 1995.
After OSU, Jerry Jacoby went on to a three-decade career at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He lived his last years alongside the Sandia Mountains of that state and passed away in 2020. Besides numerical analysis, his passions included astronomy, scientific discoveries and the mysterious workings of the universe.