The University of Chicago News Office
Sept. 15, 2005 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

Garden honoring memory of Dr. Allison Davis, University of Chicago social anthropologist, to be dedicated Saturday, September 17

[davis garden]
The late professor Allison Davis Sr.

The Chicago Park District and the University of Chicago will dedicate the Dr. Allison Davis Garden on Saturday, Sept. 17. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the one-acre garden in Washington Park near the west end of the Midway Plaisance and directly in front of sculptor Loredo Taft’s Fountain of Time. The garden honors the memory of a pioneering scholar and teacher at the University of Chicago in the fields of education and other social sciences.

University of Chicago President Don Michael Randel will speak at the event, as will 20th Ward Alderman Arenda Troutman, Chicago Park District General Superintendent Timothy J. Mitchell, Danielle Allen, Dean of the University’s Humanities Division, and Davis’s son, Allison S. Davis, who led the collaborative effort to create the memorial.

The Davis Garden was designed by the noted Chicago landscape architect Peter Lindsay Schaudt. The garden’s plan, with a circular main section depressed into the ground, is intended to frame the Fountain of Time on its west edge while also providing an aesthetic echo with the Jackson Park Perennial Garden at the east end of the Midway Plaisance just east of Stony Island.

The garden provides an entryway for the Fountain of Time and serves as a commons, fueling the linkages between the University of Chicago and the surrounding neighborhoods.

This vision for Washington Park is one that the late Allison Davis would have shared. Dr. Davis was the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor in Education at the University and was the first African-American professor to receive tenure at the University of Chicago. This was at a time when few if any African Americans had obtained tenure at academic institutions that were not historically black. He received a doctorate in Anthropology from the University in 1942. He died in 1983. In 1994, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp honoring Davis as “one of the earliest challengers of intelligence testing based on cultural bias.”

The Davis Garden builds on the revitalization efforts now taking place in Washington Park, a celebrated urban oasis designed in the late 1800s by the father of American landscape architecture, Federick Law Olmsted. Completed and near-completed projects in Washington Park include a mini-Arboretum, , a lagoon restoration, and the restoration of the Reflection Pool of Larado Taft’s Fountain of Time.

The University of Chicago partnered with the Chicago Park District to design and develop the Davis Garden. Funding was provided by the Chicago Park District, the Davis family, the Chicago Community Trust, the University of Chicago, and others.

During his distinguished career, Dr. Davis questioned the indiscriminate use of standardized intelligence tests and fought for the understanding of human potential beyond racial class and caste. His work helped support desegregation efforts and contributed significantly to contemporary thought on valuing the capabilities of youths from diverse backgrounds.

Davis, who had earned an undergraduate degree summa cum laude from Williams College and an M.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University, was the first social scientist to carry out intensive comparative studies of the socialization and intelligence of middle-class and lower-class infants, children and adolescents and the first to make a full-length, social and anthropological study of both whites and blacks in Southern society. His many books included Children of Bondage and Deep South, among the most widely used research volumes on African Americans; his highly influential Social-Class Influences upon Learning, Intelligence and Cultural Differences; and his final book, a psychological study of great African-American leaders, Leadership, Love and Aggression.
Last modified at 02:40 PM CST on Saturday, September 17, 2005.

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