Davidson to be awarded MSU Doctor of Public Service honorary degree

Martin “Marty” Davidson, chairman of Meridian-based Southern Pipe & Supply CompanyContact: Marianne Todd

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Mississippi State University-Meridian’s spring 2024 graduation will prove historic with the campus bestowing its first Doctor of Public Service honorary degree during commencement exercises.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum will award the honorary degree to Meridian resident and entrepreneur Martin “Marty” Davidson, chairman of Meridian-based Southern Pipe & Supply Company, during the ceremony at 11 a.m., May 9 at the MSU Riley Center. The event will be livestreamed at mstv.msstate.edu, on the MSTV app and on the university’s main Facebook page.

A total of 200 degrees will be conferred to both undergraduate and graduate students.

“Mr. Davidson is a visionary business leader, a pillar of his community and major benefactor of Mississippi State University,” Keenum said. “This is the highest recognition that our university can bestow upon an individual, and Mr. Davidson is most deserving.”

Davidson is the third-generation owner of one of the nation’s largest privately held, independent wholesalers of plumbing, heating and air-conditioning materials.

“Mr. Davidson’s story is of humble beginnings, working in a business created by his grandfather, father and uncle, stocking shelves at the age of 5,” said Terry Dale Cruse, MSU-Meridian associate vice president and head of campus. “At this tender age he no doubt had already heard tales from his grandfather, who immigrated from Russia at age 20 during a heightened time of Jewish persecution. That is perhaps what cultivated Marty’s profound sense of philanthropy.”

Cruse said Davidson and Linda, his wife of 61 years, have left a generous footprint on the MSU-Meridian campus.

“I just want this world to be a better place when I leave it than when I came into it,” Davidson said. “If I have done that, it will have been a life well lived.”

Cruse said, “They have been faithful philanthropists to the MSU Riley Center since its inception as members of Friends of the Lady Society. As a board member of the Phil Hardin Foundation, Mr. Davidson has worked to advance and expose the arts to school-aged children in multi-county areas throughout East Central Mississippi and West Alabama.”

As current president of The Riley Foundation, Davidson’s generosity has enabled the development of MSU-Meridian’s Health Sciences Division, which includes programs that ultimately will provide compassionate health care workers for Mississippi’s most disadvantaged populations, Cruse added.

Southern Pipe & Supply operates 130 branches in seven southern states and has been recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as the “Best Company to Work for in Mississippi” and by Fortune Magazine as one of the 100 best medium size companies to work for in the U.S.

Davidson is a member of the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Hartley Peavey Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence from the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, a past president of the Southern Wholesaler Association and a past chairman of the EMBDC. In 2011, he was presented the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, an Ellis Island Honor Society national recognition of contributions made by immigrants and their children.

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