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Rollins professor wins 2020 Division II faculty award

Joan Davison honored for her continuous support of student-athletes

The national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has selected Joan Davison of Rollins as the winner of the 2020 Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award.

Dr. Joan Davison

The award, named after a Bellarmine physical therapy professor who died in 2013, recognizes faculty members at Division II institutions for their dedication to supporting and mentoring student-athletes, as well as their commitment to Division II student-athletes’ lifelong learning, competition and well-being.  With the 2021 NCAA Convention being held virtually, Davison will receive the award at the Division II Faculty Mentor Award Presentation and Reception during the 2022 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

“Dr. Davison has shown us that she embodies the total package student-athlete mentality in all aspects of her work,” said Kate Pigsley, internal operations coordinator of Division II SAAC and field hockey student-athlete at Southern New Hampshire. “Whether she’s collaborating with her student-athletes to prepare them for life after college or assisting with mental health initiatives, she is always aiding her student-athletes in whatever way she can. We are very proud to present the Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award to Dr. Davison this year. We thank her for making such a large impact on the student-athletes she connects with.” 

Davison is a professor of political science at Rollins. Her specialties include international and comparative politics, including U.S. foreign policy and international law. Her research focuses upon ethnoreligious identity and politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A former women’s basketball student-athlete at Wheeling, she became the first woman inducted into the Wheeling Athletics Hall of Fame and was one of three women at her university to first receive an athletics scholarship.

Davison was appointed as the Rollins faculty athletics representative in 1991 and continues to serve in that role. However, her impact is felt beyond the college, as she served as president of the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative Association from November 2019 until November 2020. She continues to serve on the association’s Executive Committee.

She uses her experience as a student-athlete to connect with Rollins student-athletes. Through attending athletic events, participating in SAAC meetings and other related activities, and reviewing student-athletes’ academic schedules, she exemplifies putting students and student-athletes first. She prides herself in supporting student-athletes and acknowledging their academic success.  

She also encourages student-athletes to go for their dreams and challenge themselves. She has been an advocate of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, which several Tars have received. She appreciates the Division II philosophy of “Life in the Balance” and how it allows students to compete at a high level while participating in other cocurricular activities. She believes this balance sets student-athletes up for success after their athletic career is over. 

“Athletics can fundamentally change a student-athlete’s life. It’s a high-impact practice, which positively contributes to well-being as a student and throughout life. Through their acceptance from their teammates, coaches and professors, there is truly a commitment to athletics and academics across the whole campus,” she said. She’s seen multiple student-athletes take on campus leadership roles and community engagement roles.

Davison thinks her tenure as FAR has allowed her to connect with other faculty members and truly understand the responsibilities, resources and inner workings of Division II institutions and athletics. She loves connecting with former student-athletes and hearing about their current endeavors.  

“Faculty members find their joy in the accomplishments of and recognition from their students. Like all FARs, I share in the successes and concerns of not only Rollins student-athletes, but all student-athletes across all divisions. As we know, 2020 was a difficult year during which FARs were striving to find new ways to support student-athletes, and we’ll continue to do that in 2021. I am pleased that I am the recipient, but even more pleased that I am able to meaningfully contribute to the academic, emotional and athletic well-being of student-athletes,” she said.