Tilton Davis, Jr., was a distinguished Army adult educator who left an indelible mark on the Department of Defense's Voluntary Education Program and who served as a model for those who came after him. He is remembered for expanding the Army's voluntary education program into a comprehensive offering of academic, vocational-technical, and language programs and instructional and student services on military bases. His efforts culminated in the establishment of the Defense Activity for Non-traditional Education Support (DANTES).
During World War II, he served as a meteorologist with the U.S. Army in the Pacific Atolls. This experience on isolated sites helped him understand the importance of adult and continuing education for service personnel. After completing his doctoral program in adult education at the University of Chicago, he became the Director of Education, Headquarters, Fifth Army, in Chicago. Later, he served as the Army's Director of the General Educational Development (GED) program in Heidelberg, West Germany, and eventually became the senior civilian educator for education policy. When Army education policy and GED Program operations combined in 1974 in the Office of the Adjutant General, Dr. Davis became the senior civilian leader of that program. He provided leadership in converting the GED Program into the Army Continuing Education system in 1977.
Understanding the power that education can bring to individual learners, he dedicated his life to helping service members participate in the adult education movement. A long time member of the Adult Education Association, he encouraged military educators to engage in professional development activities and continuously to glean information and ideas on ways to do their jobs better.
Dr. Davis received the Department of Defense's Meritorious Service Award, the highest award bestowed on DoD Civil Service employees. The American Association of Adult and Continuing Education named its Military Educator of the Year Award the Tilton Davis, Jr., Military Educator of the Year Award in his memory. In 1983, the year after his death, he was posthumously awarded the James F. Nickerson Medal of Merit.
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