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White House taps College of the Ozarks president for 1776 Commission


College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis has been named to the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission. 

President Donald Trump named Davis, along with 17 other individuals, to the commission last week for two-year terms. The 1776 Commission was established through executive order in November to promote “patriotic education” and American history. 

Davis was the only Missourian named to the commission. He has served as a college president for 43 years. 

“We must reinforce American ideals and values at this critical time in history,” Davis said in a news release. “Some in our nation seek to erase any distinct sense of American identity or American Exceptionalism from our hearts, minds, and history books. As America heads towards its 250th anniversary in 2026, Ronald Reagan’s prophetic statement still rings true: ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.’ Without patriotic education, historic American values and virtues will cease to exist in America’s youth.” 

Gov. Mike Parson congratulated Davis’ appointment on social media Tuesday. 

“We are proud to have Missouri education represented on this national stage,” Parson said. 

In an interview with “Fox & Friends” over the weekend, Davis touted his college’s own patriotic education program through courses and an international travel program focused on where U.S. veterans have served. The college, located in Point Lookout, also established the William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education in September “to take the college’s tested patriotic education programs to a national stage and support the civic education of American youth through advocacy and digital resources,” according to a news release

“What we bring to the commission is a perspective of viewing America through the lens of a college that advances traditional American values. We’re teaching love of country and a willingness to defend it,” Davis said. 

Aside from leading the College of the Ozarks, Davis has served as the president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities. He was also a trustee and advisor of the Marine Military Academy. Additionally, Davis was the 2004 recipient of the Missourian Award and the 2015 National Freedom Award, given by the U.S. Department of Defense.