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  • Change Agents

    "I don't want the younger generations in Tunisia to go to a class where they feel afraid of teachers or where they go out of fear and not out of love of learning. I want teachers to feel empowered and enjoy their role in society, which would eventually affect students positively."

    ~ Mariem Bchir '20, on her work to develop teacher training programs in her home country.

    Mariem Bchir sits on the steps in the Alvarez College Union
  • Challenge Seekers

    "I have learned the incredible responsibility in speaking of, or for, another's struggle and that any attempt to do so does not come without complications. However, I also recognize the importance in sharing what I have seen and been given to a larger audience."

    ~ Chase Conrad '18, on his experience studying environmental degradation and indigenous marginalization in Indonesia.

    Chase Conrad in the woods
  • Intellectual Explorers

    "The chance to start teaching right now is still unbelievable to me, particularly with a program whose ideals align so closely with mine. I hope to grow in my teaching skills and learn about my strengths and weaknesses in a classroom, as well as to study what other parts of the education field would be worthwhile for me to consider."

    ~ Bethany Kirkpatrick '19, on her teaching fellowship with Breakthrough Collaborative.

    Bethany Kirkpatrick works on a project
  • Servant Leaders

    "For my grandparents, who immigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1960s, their foreign culture wasn't fully accepted in American society at first. At Davidson, I am humbled by the fact that I can express myself unconditionally and I want to ensure that all students on this campus feel empowered to express their identities however they choose."

    ~Alex Soltany '18, on his decision to run for student body president.

    Alex Soltany does work in a lab

About John Montgomery Belk

Leadership & Vision

John Montgomery BelkWhen John Montgomery Belk enrolled at Davidson College in 1939, he continued a family tradition that began with the earliest Belk family graduates in 1847. John Belk amassed a record of leadership and accomplishment at Davidson that foreshadowed his extraordinary career and commitment to service. An economics major, Belk was captain of the varsity basketball team and a leader in student government and campus organizations.

Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Army Infantry, serving for three years in World War II as a lieutenant and resuming active duty in the Korean War. After serving as an officer of the United Nations Civil Assistance Commission, Belk returned home to his family business in 1952. Under his guidance as Chairman of the Board of Belk, Inc., the business expanded into one of the nation's largest and most profitable retail organizations.

John Belk dedicated himself to his community, most notably as mayor of Charlotte for four terms, from 1969 to 1977. Belk helped forge the beneficial collaboration between business and government that continues today, positioning Charlotte for its role as the nation's second largest banking center and one of the country's fastest growing cities.

In the early 1990s, he established the John Montgomery Belk Scholarship at Davidson, and in 2000 made an historic gift to endow this flagship scholarship program. John Belk was deeply touched by the opportunity to help deserving young people attend his alma mater, and kept in contact with many of the Belk Scholars. He remained engaged with Davidson throughout his life.

John Belk died in 2007. His spouse, The Honorable Claudia Watkins Belk, passed away in 2017. Their family, including daughter, Mary Claudia Belk Pilon, Board Chair of the John M. Belk Endowment, and niece, Katie Belk Morris, Board Chair of the Belk Foundation, continue to be involved with the Belk Scholarship Program.