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Mills mourns loss of Davis

Mills College Weekly

Gathered together in the P-E-P lounge in Mills Hall, colleagues, students and friends attended a prayer service in memory of English professor Amanda Davis who died in a plane crash on March 14.

Accompanying Davis in the crash was her mother Francie Davis and her father James Davis, who was piloting the Cessna 177 when it crashed in a heavily wooded area in the North Carolina mountains. Davis was leaving Asheville, N.C. where she had a book signing event the night before while touring for her first novel, Wonder When You’ll Miss Me.

In response to the tragedy her colleagues organized Tuesday’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer service. The lounge was filled with people sitting on couches, chairs, on the floor and standing up. The room was somber, silent but contemplative.

The first to reflect upon Davis was President Holmgren who read out loud a new version of the Kaddish in English. On Monday, President Holmgren said that “Davis was a talented new voice in American fiction and a highly respected new member of the faculty who brought great energy and passion to her teaching.”

All of those who spoke at the Kaddish, commented on the energetic personality Davis possessed.

“I loved her spirit the first moment I met her,” said provost Mary-Ann Milford.

Milford commented that she did not know Davis very well but remembered how excited she was of her first book tour.

Although on her first book tour, Davis is not new to the literary community. She had published a book of short stories, Circling the Drain. She had also written articles, reviews and short stories for Poets & Writers, Yale Literary Magazine, Esquire and Seventeen.

At 32 years old, Davis had become an accomplished writer with infinite amount of energy and potential.

“She had the energy of going out and getting what she wanted,” said visiting English lecturer Aidan Thompson. “Her energy was infectious, it was around her all the time.”

Davis, who was from Durham, N.C., graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in theatre and later earned her M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College. Prior to her career at Mills, Davis was an instructor at Antioch University in Los Angeles and a guest fellow at Yale University. Davis joined the English department in the fall of 2002 as an associate English professor. She taught both undergraduate and graduate courses this semester.

Noah Katznelson, an administrative assistant in the M Center, was in her intermediate fiction workshop class and was one of her students who attended the Kaddish.

“She expected so much from her students only because she expected the same from herself,” said Katznelson. “That’s what made her such a great teacher- she wouldn’t accept anything less.”