Carol Quillen has led Davidson College in developing among its students the qualities desperately needed in our world today: leadership, integrity, curiosity and empathy.

Under her guidance, Davidson is creating a new model for higher education in an increasingly interconnected world. The college’s students cultivate deep skills and capacities, such as critical thinking and problem solving, heightened by studies in the uncharted areas where disciplines overlap and discoveries are made.  Combined with experiential learning, at home and abroad, they leave equipped to have a disproportionate impact in the world.

Quillen's "Transition to Impact" initiatives and her support of student-and-faculty collaborative research allow students to produce new knowledge, whether working with scholars in the classroom or entrepreneurs in the community. She inspired and has overseen the building of the E. Craig Wall Jr. Center, which weaves together physical sciences, social sciences and public art.  She led the creation of the college’s Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the town of Davidson, a nexus for community entrepreneurs, faculty research and student initiatives unprecedented among liberal arts colleges.

She has affirmed Davidson's commitment to educational excellence by cultivating partnerships that help identify students from all backgrounds whose talents enrich the community and whose leadership as graduates will transform the world.

An historian by training, Quillen often guest lectures in a variety of courses and is teaching a course in the Humanities program during the fall of 2019.

On August 1, 2011, Quillen became the 18th president of Davidson College.

A respected scholar and an accomplished administrator, she arrived at Davidson from Rice University, where she served as vice president for international and interdisciplinary initiatives.

She grew up in New Castle, Delaware, a small town where she says "it was second nature to support the community and look out for other people."

Quillen attended Wilmington Friends School. She earned a B.A. in American history from the University of Chicago, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with special and general honors, then received a Ph.D. in European history from Princeton University. In 2018, Princeton awarded her the James Madison medal, given in recognition of an alum’s distinguished career, advancing the cause of graduate education or record of outstanding public service.

She emphasizes that equal educational opportunity must be real and meaningful. On campus, she has strengthened the Davidson Trust through which the college practices need-blind admission and meets 100 percent of demonstrated need for all students through a combination of grants and campus employment, with no packaged loans. In national leadership, she is a founding member of the American Talent Initiative, aimed at graduating 50,000 additional high-achieving, low- and moderate income students from the nation’s top schools.

President Obama appointed Quillen to the Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, and her peers have placed her on the board of directors of the American Council on Education and in leadership roles with the NCAA and the National Humanities Center. She serves on the boards of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools and the Levine Museum of the New South.