An Investment in Davidson’s Future

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Carol QuillenIn the company of friends, faculty, staff and students, Davidson recently launched the public phase of the most ambitious campaign in our history. Game Changers: Inspiring Leaders to Transform the World speaks urgently to that history—and to a world in need of the Davidson you see represented in the pages of this magazine.

Preparing such graduates year after year has demanded much from the Davidson community. It has demanded effort, rigorous honesty, and the courage to believe in what you can’t yet see. This kind of education doesn’t just happen. Fulfilling our primary purpose has demanded and will continue to demand heroes.

One hundred seventy-eight years ago, Robert Hall Morrison, a founding trustee who became the college’s first president, discerned the power of education to secure civic freedom, justice and a shared sense of purpose within his society. Through his efforts, Davidson began to help young men develop humane instincts, disciplined intellects, character and creativity.

Extending the opportunity for a Davidson education to all talented students required another leader of extraordinary vision and courage, and in 1968 Samuel Reid Spencer Jr. became our 14th president. “An educational institution today,” President Spencer said in his 1968 inauguration speech, “cannot afford the luxuries of sentimentality and Chauvinism. It cannot wistfully choose preoccupation with a known and somewhat idealized past over the hard realities of an unknown future. Its posture must be aggressive rather than defensive. Though it must be versatile enough to provide the setting for serious and undisturbed study, it cannot use its hallowed walls to isolate itself from the society of which it is a part.”

Dr. Spencer’s words resonate now. We live in a time of global interdependence and fast-paced change. The jobs that many of our graduating seniors will hold did not exist when they arrived at Davidson a mere four years ago. We are preparing our students to lead and serve in communities whose features we cannot now know and whose economic, social and cultural challenges we cannot yet predict. And, while a liberal arts education is all the more valuable within this rapidly changing world, the public increasingly questions our relevance and value. It is perhaps tempting, in the face of these issues, to close ranks, to become insular, to dig in or dwell in the past. Many would choose this path. But it is not Davidson’s character to ignore the call of our community or the needs of those around us.

This campaign is about more than doing things as we have always done them. It is about honoring the courage of our predecessors by heeding the call of our time. We will build on what we have inherited to enable Davidson to educate, for our time, the most talented students from across our country and around the world for lives of leadership, service and disproportionate impact.

We are Davidson. It’s our turn. Let us reach with conviction toward our shared aspirations so that this amazing place can continue to educate the leaders who, now more than ever, our world so desperately needs. Together we celebrate the Davidson we know and love, and invest in the Davidson of the future. Join us.

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About Author

Carol Quillen

Davidson College President Carol Quillen has engaged the college community in reimagining the liberal arts experience within the changing landscape of higher education and an increasingly interconnected world. Quillen became the 18th president of Davidson College on Aug. 1, 2011.

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