Chester C. Davenport, the law school’s first African-American graduate who passed away in August 2020, was memorialized with the establishment of a scholarship/fellowship fund and was posthumously awarded the UGA Alumni Association’s oldest and highest honor.
The Chester C. Davenport Memorial Endowment Fund was created to further his legacy with scholarships and fellowships that give priority to students who have graduated from Georgia-based historically Black colleges and universities. Recipients also will be selected for reflecting Davenport’s reputation for academic excellence, courage, determination and trailblazing spirit.
The Alumni Merit Award is reserved for individuals who bring recognition and honor back to UGA through outstanding leadership and service to the university, the community and his profession.
An Athens native and Morehouse College graduate, Davenport was a monumental figure in the School of Law’s history. He was the law school’s first Black student and remained its only Black student during his law school career. He earned his law degree in 1966, finishing in the top 5% of his class. As a student, he also served as a founding member of the editorial board for the Georgia Law Review.
After law school, Davenport became an attorney in the tax division of the U.S. Department of Justice and subsequently served as a legislative assistant for California Sen. Alan Cranston. Following a position on President Jimmy Carter’s transition team and an appointment as assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Davenport co-founded a law practice based in Washington, D.C. He later started Georgetown Partners, a private equity firm.
Davenport’s service to UGA included positions on the law school’s Board of Visitors and the UGA Arch Foundation. He delivered the law school’s 97th Sibley Lecture and participated in the school’s 50th anniversary commemoration of the landmark Brown v. Topeka Board of Education case. In 2006, he made a transformational gift to the law school to support student scholarships. The UGA chapter of the Black Law Students Association bears his name and, in 2016, he received the law school alumni association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Scroll Award.