Devotion to duty goes beyond the moment. Christine Reed Davis may know that better than anyone.
Davis is this year’s Staff Employee of the Year in the category of devotion to duty. This award is given to an employee who exhibits unselfish devotion to duty, far and above the normal requirements, having contributed significantly to the advancement of UNC Charlotte and State service to the citizens of North Carolina.
Brenda Shue, business officer in the Chancellor’s Office, in nominating Davis commended her dedication to the students affected by the tragedy of April 30, 2019. Four years later, four students present in Kennedy Building will walk across the stage at Spring Commencement. Shue attributes the students’ successes in part to Davis and her team's years-long dedication to assist them through difficult challenges.
“Christine Reed Davis, dean of students, works tirelessly to support the students of UNC Charlotte,” wrote Shue. “I am submitting this nomination based on my first-hand knowledge of her extraordinary selfless devotion at the darkest period in the history of UNC Charlotte — and continues to this day reaching far beyond our campus community.”
Davis was appointed the point of contact for all students on the Kennedy class roster, which she coordinated with the previous director of CAPS.
“I’ve been here since day one,” said Davis. “My duty is to be here and help figure out what the next steps are.”
Davis became more than a point of contact, she became an active champion for these students.
“Christine became the students’ advocate,” wrote Shue. “She has worked with advisors and professors, standing firm for these students who suffered in silence. She heard their silent cries. She became a supportive resource. She laid out action plans and met with students in person. She prioritized these students. She still does.”
One instance Davis noted was fall 2021, when students were returning to campus. She received an angry email from Sophia Dearing, a student who had been in the Kennedy classroom, claiming Davis hadn’t done enough. Davis looked past the anger and instead saw the student’s anxiousness and hurt. She met with this student and developed a relationship that continues to this day. Together, they presented at a national conference regarding what to do after a campus shooting. More recently, in January 2023, they spoke to the Student Affairs Division at the University of Virginia.
“It’s a blessing to come together and provide an administrative and student perspective,” said Davis. “We developed an amazing relationship.”
Four years after the events of April 30, Davis recalled some of the greatest challenges, including March 2020 when the pandemic hit. The campus was still grieving but was physically separated. Davis and UNC Charlotte navigated the difficult season.
“I’m still drawn to this work as my calling,” said Davis. “There’s something from the universe that has put me in this space.”
Others in University leadership agreed. Sujit Chemburkar, associate vice chancellor, student affairs, noted Davis’ compassion, long-term effort and dedication, and how its effects are felt in 2023.
“Dr. Davis’ ability to navigate very personal situations with grace and humility is remarkable, and she is a champion for every student,” wrote Chemburkar. “This ongoing emotional labor is not easy, but Christine has helped guide the survivors through their immediate and long-term journeys, and their current successful progress in life can be attributed to her influence.”
Jesh Humphrey, vice chancellor for institutional integrity and general counsel, also praised her dedication.
“Time and time again, I have observed Dr. Davis give tirelessly of herself to students and colleagues in need, all while raising two children of her own, successfully pursuing her doctorate and shouldering the administrative and personal burden of crisis and tragedy” wrote Humphrey. “Her unwavering commitment and drive to understand the motivations and needs of the students she serves have without question resulted in hundreds of success stories of students who would not have been given an opportunity or the resources to graduate from college.”
Davis is honored to receive this award. She represents the resilience of the UNC Charlotte community and a reminder that as the world moves on, there will be those who still struggle and need compassion and support.
“It has been four years, but I want people to remember that the work isn’t done,” said Davis. “Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean that it’s not here.”
All winners will be recognized at UNC Charlotte’s Staff Employee of the Year event held Thursday, May 4.