Late Alumnus Inspires Tutoring Program

Nate Davis ’76 honored his late friend Art Harper ’78 by creating a Saturday tutoring academy for underserved teens.

Nate Davis ’76 will always remember his late friend Art Harper ’78, and now, thanks to a gift from Nate, Art’s legacy will live on at Stevens in a new program for student success.

Nate grew up the son of teachers in South Jersey, and Art grew up in a blue-collar home in Atlantic County. They enrolled at Stevens at a time when there weren’t many students who looked like them on campus, and they bonded through the Black Student Union.

Art, who became the first in his family to graduate college, remembered a rigorous start. “When I first stepped onto the Stevens campus, I thought I was in trouble,” he once recalled. “When those freshmen classes started, and I saw the talents of some of my classmates, I said, ‘what am I doing here?’ I knew it was going to be tough and I was going to have to work hard to get through it.”

“Stevens was tough,” Nate said, “but I learned that you have to put in time and work to succeed. When I graduated, I left Stevens feeling I could conquer the world.” While they were building successful careers – Nate as an executive with MCI, Nextel, XM Radio and now as chair and CEO of education company K12, and Art jet-setting for GE’s operations in China, India and across Europe and Africa – the two men never forgot to give back.

Both have supported their alma mater, especially with scholarships and initiatives in STEP, the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program (see the story on STEP’s 50th anniversary). Art participated in STEP as a student, and on Saturdays Nate tutored local high school students in a since-lapsed program sponsored by STEP. In 2017, Nate was a leading voice in creating ACES (Accessing Careers in Engineering and Science), which offers Stevens scholarships to students from underserved communities.

And now, Nate has taken new inspiration from Art, who passed away last September. With support from Art’s wife, Linda, Nate has provided funding to reestablish a weekend tutoring and academic enrichment program at Stevens. Launching in 2019, the Art Harper Saturday Academy will include tutoring, mentorships, educational excursions and hands-on experiences in engineering.

The core objective will be to provide opportunities for students, who with exposure and nurturing, may be inspired to pursue a STEM degree and create a fulfilling and rewarding future for themselves.

Or in other words, to succeed like Nate Davis and Art Harper. “I am a lucky man,” Nate said. “I got an opportunity to go into all these fields, and it changed my life. It changed my family, giving us opportunities we never would have had. Because of that, my dream is now to help others experience the same thing. ACES and the Harper Saturday program are major commitments that Stevens and its partners are undertaking that will change lives and support those motivated students to achieve.”

“No one who is successful does it alone; you need help along the way,” Art once said. “I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by great people who’ve helped me along the way. It all started at Stevens, with the great education I got there.”

Learn more about the Art Harper ’78 Saturday Academy.