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June 17, 2012

First CEO named for schools in Lafayette

By Kevin Cullen

LAFAYETTE — Following a six-month national search, a Lafayette attorney and venture capitalist has been chosen from among 23 candidates to be the first chief executive officer of the Lafayette Catholic School System (LCSS).

J. Eric DavisJ. Eric Davis, who has four children enrolled in the Lafayette Catholic schools, will start June 18. He is a member of St. Lawrence Parish, Lafayette, and co-chair of the development task force in the LCSS strategic planning process.

“I have had a rewarding career working with very innovative people to take new technologies and turn them into something useful and valuable to society,” said Davis, a 14-year Lafayette resident. “I have had the opportunity to travel the world doing this. Now that my children are growing older, I have a strong interest in doing something that makes a difference for them and to our local community.”

The LCSS consists of St. Mary School, grades K-3; St. Boniface School, grades 4-6; St. Lawrence School, grades K-6; and Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School, grades 7-12. Catholic education has been offered in Lafayette for more than 160 years.

The CEO post is part of a restructuring announced in January. Davis will oversee day-to-day operations of the system and report to its board of directors.

Davis “brings a faith commitment and a history of successes to the executive director office,” said Bishop Timothy L. Doherty. “To-day’s education environment requires new content, effective delivery and clear communication with many stakeholders. Our parents’ passion for Catholic values, excellent academics and good environments has a new advocate to lead us forward.”

He thanked the LCSS board of directors and the search committee for their diligence and congratulated them on the selection. Davis’ leadership will be important in letting people know “that we expect teachers and pupils to flourish, not simply succeed,” he said.

Davis, a native of Plymouth, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from the University of Dayton, and a law degree from Indiana University-Indianapolis. He began his law career serving as counsel to several school corporations.

The Lafayette Catholic schools have a long, rich tradition, Davis said, “and I hope to help build on that strong foundation and use all the gifts and experiences God has given me to make a difference in the lives of our young people and the community.”

He moved to Lafayette in 1998 and worked in Purdue University’s Office of Technology Commercialization. There, he managed all intellectual property related to information technology, copyrights and trademarks, and handled all aspects of the commercialization pro-cess.

Later, he began developing and leading venture-backed businesses that use technology licensed from major research universities. Davis is founder and managing partner of JED/

Venture Partners, a Lafayette-based business accelerator that provides executive support to new technology ventures.  

Davis co-founded Copient Technologies in 2000 and served as its president. It developed systems that allow large retailers to track a customer’s buying history and develop customized offers. In 2001, he co-founded Arxan Technologies, which commercialized and patented technology used to protect computer systems from attack.

In 2007, he co-founded Kylin Theraputics to develop a new cancer therapy. He served as its president and CEO until recently.

Tim Powers, chair of the LCSS board of directors and co-chair of the search committee, said that aside from being a “highly successful businessman with a passion for education,” Davis “is a visionary who will bring an innovative, motivational style of leadership to the Lafayette Catholic schools.

“He has shown that he is a forward thinker who is willing to champion new ideas and build the needed consensus to move these ideas through to implementation.”

Davis has served on several boards, including the Montessori School of Greater Lafayette and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Marshall County.

He and his wife, Melanie, have four children: Michaela, 17; Elaine, 15; Jack, 13, and Annabelle, 10.

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