Gifts Honor President Quillen’s Transformative Leadership

President Carol Quillen with students in Freedom School

President Carol Quillen will step down in July after more than a decade leading Davidson. Pictured here: Quillen joins Davidson Freedom School scholars for the morning Harambee, a lively informal reading, song and dance ceremony that opens each day of the summer literacy program.

President Carol E. Quillen has for 11 years inspired renewed engagement, deep trust and generous giving at Davidson.

Greater numbers of talented students graduate thanks to scholarships. Access and opportunities for students guide decision making. New facilities elevate the sciences, student entrepreneurship and scholar-athletes. Stunning public art graces every corner of campus.

This fiscal year, alums, families, faculty, staff and friends have had the opportunity to make contributions to Davidson in President Quillen’s honor. The outpouring of support is a testament to the difference she has made in the lives of those around her. Her leadership has helped create a more exceptional, more inclusive and more humane Davidson community.

To date, more than $49 million has been raised for Davidson College in honor of President Quillen and her service-minded, student-driven leadership.

As you make your year-end gifts to Davidson, consider these comments from your fellow Wildcats and the ways they were inspired to make their gifts in recognition and celebration of the last 11 years of excellence, innovation, tradition and change. If you wish to honor President Quillen with a tribute of your own, please indicate that on the gift form.

Honoring President Quillen's 11 Years as Davidson College President

“It is an understatement to say that Carol Quillen transformed the face of Davidson College during her presidency these last 11 years. Faculty-student research is at an all-time high, interdisciplinary studies have blossomed beyond our imaginations, our campus has turned into a museum of truly inspiring and internationally recognized art and culture, and Davidson has been receiving its due recognition both nationally and globally. I personally think her greatest contribution has been her continual heart-felt plea for us to find common ground and show each other grace. When we felt divided, she beseeched us to recognize the unique humanity of everyone we encounter. She has led with deep empathy, love, kindness, humility, and generosity and always made it clear that she expected us to treat each other with compassion. In doing so, she gave voice to the voiceless and a valued place to those who may not ordinarily feel they are seen. As her tenure as president ends, she leaves Davidson a more humane, empathetic, diverse, international, unique, and creative learning environment.”

-Rebecca Joubin, chair and professor of Arab Studies  

“Carol Quillen will forever be an historic figure at Davidson. She joined the college, setting new standards for what a college leader should look like, and has kept raising the bar ever since. She has a quiet yet powerful resolve. She is a force for good in the Davidson community and beyond. I am glad that I had the opportunity to work with her and see her management style up close. Carol built a diverse team of some of the most accomplished leaders in academia who have consistently shown their ability for excellence. She took on the toughest challenges of the day and handled each issue with thoughtfulness and purpose. My only regret is that I wasn’t on the selection committee in 2011 when she was chosen to be Davidson’s 18th president.”

-Virgil Fludd ’80

“In her recent graduation speech to the Class of 2022, President Quillen charged the class with leveraging their newfound knowledge and skills to generate progress by finding common ground between two acrimonious parties. In hearing her speak, it is evident that she believes so deeply in the power of a Davidson education to make impactful change within communities across the world, and her belief is motivating.

While serving as Student Body President, I met with President Quillen in the Union one afternoon to discuss the possibility of creating a Young Alum Trustee position on the college’s Board of Trustees. Instead of asking me to explain my rationale or share that my idea wasn’t possible, President Quillen said, “What can I do to help you make this happen?” She gave me her undivided attention, listening to my concerns and getting to know me, when I knew she had many other competing commitments. It was through her unwavering support that the Board recruited not one but two Young Alum Trustees to join.”

-Alex Soltany ’18

“We were so impressed with President Quillen from the first time we heard her speak at new student orientation in 2017–her passion for education and for the overall well-being of the students was apparent from the beginning. Every communication from her over the next four years gave me the assurance that Sarah Gray chose the right school. I think what stood out the most was communication from President Quillen's office throughout the pandemic. She was the one making the difficult decisions that were at times very unpopular, but at the end of the day that is what we should all look for in a leader. She made those decisions with the health and safety of the students, faculty, and staff in mind. Our daughter had a year of mostly in-person learning while living in a campus apartment with three of her best friends. Was it easy? Not always. But her final memory of Davidson is time with beloved professors and friends, and a beautiful commencement ceremony celebrating the entire class at once.”

-Susan Castle, parent of Sarah Gray Castle ’21

“Carol helped us focus on where Davidson should be going instead of where Davidson has been. It may be an overused cliché, but she wanted us to “think out of the box.” The Wall Center was a great example of this. It turned out to be much more than a renovated chemistry building. On a personal note, I appreciated how open Carol was. I met with her once per year to discuss the Davidson Research Network. She made me feel that she was truly interested in my issues, she asked good questions and she never looked at the clock. She made me feel that I was the most important person in the world.”

-Spencer Redding ’72, Davidson Research Network founder

“President Carol Quillen is a compassionate leader who has the distinct ability to inspire greatness out of the people around her. She gently ushers everyone to lean into empathy and honor in the pursuit of truth. I had the privilege of receiving her direct support when we walked through the fearful time at the beginning of a global pandemic and faced a multitude of uncertainties and risks navigating COVID testing procedures. I feel confident that without a steadfast, compassionate leader like Carol, we would not have navigated those tumultuous times as smoothly as we did.”

-Beth Adams, innovation project manager, Hurt Hub@Davidson; project manager for COVID-19 testing center