On the Davidson College campus, the Weinstein name has become synonymous with generosity over the course of many years. Carole and Marcus Weinstein, of Richmond, Virginia, have supported capital projects, student initiatives and financial aid, and they have made the college and the experiences of students much stronger.
At the February meeting of the college’s Board of Trustees, John Chidsey ’83, board chair, announced the couple’s latest leadership commitment: a $1 million gift to support the Weinstein International Programs.
One program benefiting from this latest gift is the Weinstein Travel Fund, established in 2013, which offers international students resources to travel and experience more of the United States during breaks in the academic calendar. Because this program is unique to Davidson, it is a popular topic when the college’s admission team visits with international students about opportunities available to them if they choose Davidson.
Natalia Spitha ’16, an international student from Greece, was able to travel to San Francisco thanks to the Weinstein Travel Fund.
“Since coming to Davidson, I have rarely had the opportunity to travel to other places in the United States,” she said. “The mid-semester breaks have been too short or too busy to allow me to go very far, and the longer breaks are my only opportunity to return to my home country, for which I have to book flights far in advance. The Weinstein Travel Fund permitted me to spend three weeks in San Francisco and volunteer at an adult day health center, giving me the chance to explore the city and appreciate the diverse nature of American culture.”
Another program that will receive additional support is the Weinstein International Group Investigations Program, which allows faculty to take students on group study trips. Besides the value of performing research abroad, student/faculty collaboration on research projects is among Davidson's most distinctive hallmarks.
Savannah Haeger ’16 recently participated in a group study trip to Colombia with Russell Crandall, associate professor of political science.
“The opportunity to visit Colombia and investigate its ongoing peace process brought to life everything my peers and I have read or learned in the classroom, positioning all I have absorbed as a Latin American studies and political science major into a real world context,” she said. “More than we could have anticipated, our trip added so much depth and richness to our studies, and also helped me develop my own particular perspective on Colombian conflict resolution. We are so fortunate here at Davidson to receive the support that makes these types of trips possible for students.”
“International experiences change lives,” said Chris Alexander, associate dean for international programs and McGee Director of the Dean Rusk International Studies Program. “Navigating the expectations and practices of another culture dulls prejudice and sharpens our students' sense of their own identities and humane instincts. They cannot learn these things in a classroom. Carole and Marcus Weinstein are visionary leaders, and their support creates opportunities that are truly once-in-a-lifetime for Davidson students.”
When the two programs mentioned above were initially funded, Carole said, “What drew Marcus and me to a focus on international education is our philosophy about personal growth, which Marcus has practiced as a businessman and philanthropist, and I hope is represented by my service as a trustee,” said Carole. “Now more than ever, we are challenged to examine what we think is the ‘best’ and what we believe is ‘right.’ Although exposure to other cultures and other value systems is sometimes scary and upsetting, it has the potential to open our minds to fresh, new ideas.” The couple’s focus on opening students’ minds is reflected in another recent gift to the college. In fall 2015, the college announced a naming gift from the Weinsteins that will support enrichments to the Multicultural House, now named the Spencer-Weinstein Center for Community and Justice.
Enhancements to the building will follow the vision of students and their desires for the space to emulate a home where diversity is embraced. The name honors the late Samuel R. Spencer Jr., Davidson College president from 1968 until 1983, as well as two key issues–community and justice–that are critically important to students, both on campus and in their communities. As Carole has said of this special relationship between families, “Marcus and Sam’s mutual commitment to education drew them beyond the tennis court to a deep and abiding affection based on similar ideals of equality and trust.”