On Par with Excellence: Davidson Golf Becomes First Fully Endowed Division I Scholarship Program
The Davidson College Golf Program has come a long way since Steve MacMillan ’85 was one of the team’s captains. In those days, “practice” meant taking a bucket of balls to the football practice field, hitting them over the goal post, collecting them and starting again.
Today, the team has a 2018 A-10 Championship under its belt -- the first conference title in 50 years --and was the 2019 A-10 runner-up. Viraj Garewal ’22 was named 2019 A-10 Rookie of the Year, and Jack Lang ’19 was named 2019 A-10 Player of the Year. Both years, Head Coach Tim Straub was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.
That upward trajectory will continue. A $2.7 million gift from MacMillan and his wife, Jennifer, makes the golf program Davidson College’s first fully endowed athletic scholarship program.
"We have been inspired by the current players on the team as well as the excellent leadership of Coach Straub," said the couple. "We wanted to make a gift that would really make a difference and raise people’s creativity for supporting other programs. Everything we do is to be a catalyst for others."
The significant gift means the program will be able to recruit top scholar-athletes to Davidson, ensuring a promising future for Davidson golf.
"I can’t thank Jennifer and Steve enough for this amazing gift to our program," Straub said. "I am very humbled by their dedication to our team and to me. Davidson golf has made great strides in the past few years, and their commitment will only enhance our ability to compete for more A-10 titles and at the national level while graduating true scholar-athletes. Jennifer and Steve have made history for our golf program."
Current and future players will be able to see the impact of this gift, most immediately through recruiting efforts.
"Mr. and Mrs. MacMillan’s continued support for the Davidson golf program has been so meaningful for my two years here,” said team member Alex Ross '21, who finished in the top 10 in the conference this year. “This generous gift will put our team on a springboard to becoming one of the top programs in the country for the remainder of my college career and long after I leave. I know I can speak for my entire team in saying that we truly cannot thank the MacMillans enough!”
Profit to Purpose
When Steve MacMillan first became a CEO in 2005, leading Stryker Corporation, he was the youngest Fortune 500 CEO in America. He traces his love of business back to his days at Davidson, including the influence of professors like the late Professor of Economics Emerita Cora Louise Nelson.
“She was a demanding disciplinarian, but she established in me a habit of reading the Wall Street Journal every day,” he said. “That habit, which continues to this day, helped lead me to my love of business.”
MacMillan came to Davidson with political science/law aspirations and soon realized he was a slow reader and was better and faster with numbers. Today, he serves as president and CEO of Hologic, a leader in medical technologies and inventor of 3D mammography. He says nothing he does today existed when he was a student, but Davidson prepared him to learn and communicate.
“When I became a CEO, I had to figure a lot of it out, and I was able to do that because of the liberal arts and my ability to talk to people, listen and ask questions,” he said. “It’s the Davidson background of leadership and service that also drives me to always link profit to purpose. The more we sell, the more we invest in research and development, which expands our services to help people.”
Steve came to Davidson thanks to scholarships, loans and a work study job -- he opened the library every Saturday morning, only seeing about three people during his early weekend shift. Davidson would not have been possible without financial support, and this gift makes the scholar-athlete experience possible for top talent, regardless of their financial circumstances.
Director of Athletics Chris Clunie ’06 arrived at Davidson last year, and he has said there is no reason for Davidson to do “more with less.”
“Steve and Jennifer’s tremendous gift is an absolute game changer for Davidson Athletics,” Clunie said. “The golf program will now serve as the model for what all of our athletic programs can achieve. This is what ‘doing more with more’ looks like, and we are incredibly grateful to the MacMillans for their commitment and generosity to Davidson scholar-athletes.”