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Quillen and McLendon Give $1 Million to Davidson Scholarships

George McLendon (left) and Carol Quillen
Education has been a game changer for President Carol Quillen and George McLendon, and they hope to pay it forward with scholarship support for students from all backgrounds.

Davidson College President Carol Quillen and her husband, medical research executive George McLendon, are donating $1 million to Davidson for scholarships that will help the college fulfill its aim of enrolling the most talented students from all backgrounds.

The gift, part of $20 million raised exclusively for scholarships over the past dozen months, provided a boost to the college’s ongoing Game Changers campaign, which has raised $373 million toward a $425 million goal.           

“Very few college presidents have made a gift of this size to their institution,” said former N.C. Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., who is past chairman of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “It speaks to the depths of Carol’s commitment, both to Davidson and to creating the best possible educational opportunity for talented students, regardless of where they grew up or how much money they have.”

Quillen and McLendon, who is vice president for research at Carolinas HealthCare System, view the gift as an investment in Davidson with an impact that extends much further, because it yields an invaluable societal good: the next generation of leaders.

“In our country, each generation has an obligation to secure both equal opportunity and leadership for the future,” Quillen said. “Investing in scholarships at Davidson helps achieve both.”

John W. Chidsey III, former Burger King chairman and current chair of Davidson’s Board of Trustees, said the donation naturally follows Quillen’s devotion to Davidson and its mission of preparing students for lives of leadership and service. He recalled how she was drawn to Davidson by the powerful culture of community, the sense of discovery and the school’s outsized impact on the world.

“It wasn’t that Carol wanted to be a college president. She wanted to be president of Davidson. She is unconventional in her direct questioning of how things are and in her efforts to try new approaches that will better achieve our mission,” said Chidsey ’83. “This gift will further equip Davidson to enable very talented kids from all backgrounds, particularly from lower income backgrounds, to thrive and enjoy the freedom and strength that education offers. Basically, she and George—neither one of whom attended Davidson—are saying, ‘No one does it better.’”

“Education has been a game changer for Carol and me,” McLendon said. “We were both privileged to benefit from great professors and great institutions that helped us build lives of gratitude. We value how Davidson changes the game for our students and the communities they serve.”

Quillen said she and McLendon recognize the unearned gifts they have enjoyed: supportive families, material comfort and mentors who believed in education and in them. They also are conscious of Quillen’s central role in fundraising for Davidson. 

“We’re asking other people to invest significantly in Davidson in part because of what Davidson has given them,” Quillen said. “Davidson has given us more than we could ever repay or even express. We also passionately believe that our communities urgently need the leaders from all backgrounds that Davidson can distinctively provide.”

Jay Pfeifer
japfeifer@davidson.edu
704-894-2920