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New Endowment Will Bring Visiting Scholars to Campus and Boost Curricular Innovation

by Davidson College

Davidson has received a generous gift intended to help the college enhance existing courses, and to explore new curricular directions.

"This gift shows foresight and confidence," said President Carol Quillen, who announced the new Bacca Foundation Visiting Scholar and Artist Program to members of the faculty at its regular meeting on Thursday.

The gift was made by a Davidson alumnus and his spouse who wish to remain anonymous, and creates an endowment that will carry the program in perpetuity. President Quillen explained that the gift demonstrates the donors' understanding that higher education is evolving, and Davidson needs constantly to assess the appropriateness of curricular change.

Each year, faculty members will be invited to submit proposals to bring to campus distinguished scholars, visiting faculty, writers, and performing artists to engage students in innovative, stimulating, and meaningful ways. The visits may be short residencies, or longer term engagements.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Clark Ross said the donors' strong interest in experiential learning and programming outside the norm distinguishes the Bacca Foundation Visiting Scholar and Artist Program among existing programs that bring visitors to campus.

The donors expressed hope that their initiative will launch curricular enhancements that inspire funding from other sources. The alumnus said, "With sincere joy and gratitude to Davidson for the education and experiences while I was there, my wife and I are pleased to contribute to the college's impressive tradition of academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, and personal integrity. We hope to enhance further Davidson's remarkable ability to engage students directly with scholars, artists, creators, and thought-leaders who might impact profoundly the educational experience. Davidson has been, is, and will continue to be a singularly special institution."

As examples of uses for the Bacca Program, Ross said it could enhance existing courses by bringing noted authors into a literature class for several days, bringing an urban planner into an economics class, or bringing a campaign consultant into an American Politics course.

Beyond augmenting and strengthening existing offerings, the preference will be that the Bacca Foundation gift support visits that enhance new areas of inquiry, promote new cross-disciplinary initiatives, or promote other innovative curricular endeavors. Ross said those ideas could take the form of an expert offering an introductory course in digital studies to help the college explore that new field, or bring in experts in interdisciplinary fields such as ethnic studies and environmental studies. He concluded, "We are so excited with the myriad of possibilities to enrich the academic experience of our students that this gift will provide."