Friday, 17 September 2021 12:46

Former student establishes scholarship at UNCP in memory of musical theatre professor

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Hal Davis Hal Davis UNCP

PEMBROKE — Hal Davis spent the better part of three decades on stage, performing in more than 70 professional productions.  

An acclaimed actor, Davis was a veteran of Broadway musicals and off-Broadway productions, part of national tours, a mainstay in New York’s regional theatres and major venues stretching into Canada. He starred in the Broadway debut in Titanic, which earned the 1997 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical. In 2018, he was inducted into the Wichita State College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame. 

In 2006, Davis brought his years of theatrical success and real-world experience to the Musical Theatre program at UNC Pembroke. Over the next 10 years, he mentored and guided the career paths of acting students and graduates like Sean Jaenicke. 

As a professional actor and Theatre Raleigh manager, Jaenicke continues to lean on the lessons imparted by his former theatre professor and advisor. 

He made such an impact that after Davis’ passing on Easter 2020, Jaenicke established Hal Davis Memorial Scholarship in Musical Theatre at UNCP in his memory. 

“He cared about his students at UNCP and inspired them to continue on and do great things in their careers. He taught lessons you don’t find in textbooks. He produced a lot of great students, so the university owes it to him to carry on a small piece of him at UNCP, always.” 

When Davis arrived at UNCP, the Musical Theatre program was going through a resurgence after the untimely passing of its former coordinator Travis Stockley. Davis is credited with taking a fledgling program and building it into one of the highlights of the department. 

“I was one of the first graduates after Hal took over the program,” said Jaenicke, who serves on the UNCP Alumni Association board of directors. 

“Hal was not from the academic world, so he spoke to you like a colleague. In the classroom, it was more like you were grabbing a cup of coffee and discussing issues rather than a lecture. He wanted to be on the same level as his students and tried to instill a good work ethic in all his students. 

“He gave me great advice about the industry. He would always say, ‘anytime you go in for an audition, always have something to do afterward, so you’re not dwelling on the task at hand.’ I’ll always carry that with me.” 

The Hal Davis Memorial Scholarship will serve need-based students majoring in musical theatre to keep his vision alive.  

“I wanted to create a scholarship for students who want to pursue a career in musical theatre but may not have the funding. This scholarship will give that little extra boost to students who have a passion for musical theatre and love UNCP as much as Hal did.”             

To make a donation or to learn more information about the Hal Davis Memorial Scholarship, visit