Professional News

‘Great Teacher’ Olivia Davis Inspires Her Students to Change Lives, Communities

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 22, 2022) — Six of the University of Kentucky's passionate and accomplished educators were surprised earlier this spring by student nominators and the UK Alumni Association as 2022 Great Teacher Award recipients.

Olivia Davis, lecturer in the Gatton College of Business and Economics, is one of the distinguished Great Teacher Award recipients who strives to help her students discover their passions.

“I want them to understand, they have a lot of power to change lives and communities,” she said. “Helping them see the connection between the coursework, and the impact it can have, is what I hope motivates them to push through.”

Before joining UK in 2018, Davis was in public accounting with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP) in the assurance practice. As a CPA with nearly 14 years of experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the classroom.

Davis encourages her students to go beyond the technical accounting and auditing concepts by sharing real-world scenarios — helping them understand the challenges businesses face. She also works closely with businesses to design education solutions aimed at increasing growth and development opportunities for employees.  

“My philosophy is to meet the students where they are. I want to get to know them, so I can deliver what each of them needs,” Davis explained. “I feel like this award is the validation of all the work I put in to learn how to do it right, and to do the best by them.”

Davis serves as faculty advisor for the UK student chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), and she is a professional member of NABA. In 2019, Davis founded the Gatton College’s FASTrack program for high school students and in 2021, Gatton Explore. 

Davis is currently on the board of directors for the Kentucky Society of CPAs and is a member of the KYCPA Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She also serves on various community boards, including the Explorium of Lexington and Providence Montessori School. Davis is also on the Board of Architects and previously served on the board of Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority/Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation.

Davis was awarded the Gatton College Teaching Excellence Award in 2020, the 2021 Gatton College Faculty of the Year (student selected) and the 2021 University of Kentucky Provost's Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Learn more about this UK Alumni Association 2022 "Great Teacher" in the video above, and check out this week's "Behind the Blue" podcast also featuring Davis.

She is just one of the 2022 UK Alumni Association Great Teacher award winners. This summer, UKNow will highlight each of these Great Teachers. Watch their stories here.

Initiated in 1961, UK’s Great Teacher Award is the longest-running UK award recognizing teaching. In order to receive the honor, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selection. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and stipend.

Photo of Olivia Davis
Davis encourages her students to go beyond the technical accounting and auditing concepts by sharing real-world scenarios. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.