The Passing of the College’s Namesake

Charles W. DavidsonWe were deeply saddened to learn of Charles W. (Chuck) Davidson’s passing on March 25, 2021, and the college community is mourning his loss. An avid reader and lifelong learner, Chuck was a student of life and an ardent supporter of San José State University. 

San Jose Spotlight journalist Janice Bitters wrote of him in 2019, “Charles Davidson arrived in San José [from Eastern Oklahoma] a broke 21-year-old in 1952 seeking a way out of poverty and he’s spent the last 67 years forging his own lucrative path in the world. But he’s also quietly become one of Silicon Valley’s most unsung philanthropists.”

Chuck graduated from Civil Engineering (1957) after working nights in local railroad yards and attending classes during the day. An entrepreneur who founded and managed five thriving companies, he built thousands of homes, was a pioneer in creating and enabling affordable housing, and provided San José State with the largest private grant in its history: $15 million to the College of Engineering. 

“I’m not a saint by any stretch of the imagination, so don’t get the wrong idea about me,” Davidson told Bitters. “I’m a normal human being. I’ve had lots of good luck along the way and lots of good people around me.”

He also holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from SJSU. In 2007, the California State University Board of Trustees approved naming our engineering college after him in perpetuity. Chuck was quoted as saying: “I don’t believe the money I have earned is wholly mine. Providence has allowed me to be the manager and trustee of this money, and philanthropy comes with that responsibility — taking care of your employees, your business partners, your family, and your community.” 

Chuck was a founding member and chair of the Tower Foundation, the philanthropic arm of San José State. Throughout the years, he faithfully attended Spartan football games and served on the Tower Board.

Chuck has deeply enriched our lives, and the lives of our students: past, present and future. He will be greatly missed.

Read the campus announcement

Read more from the San Jose Mercury News

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