Next month marks the 10-year anniversary of The Davidson Trust, the college's commitment to meeting students' demonstrated financial need through grants and campus employment, without relying on loans. The eighth annual student-led Dinner at Davidson, slated for March 18, will center on how The Davidson Trust has contributed to greater diversity of thought, ideas and identities at the college.
Davidson College is one of fewer than 20 higher education institutions in the United States–and the only one in North Carolina–with this approach. President Carol Quillen has described The Davidson Trust as "a community project" focused on "creating a society where equal opportunity is actually real."
As we approach this year's Dinner at Davidson event, students and alumni share their thoughts about The Davidson Trust:
"The Davidson Trust has the powerful and unique ability to bring talented students to Davidson, regardless of socioeconomic status, and enable them to thrive and learn from one another. The impact of The Davidson Trust doesn't end upon crossing the stage on Chambers Lawn during commencement; I know my Davidson experiences and relationships will be with me for the rest of my life. Many of my most-cherished experiences, from studying abroad in Brazil to examining the Colombian peace process on a school-sponsored trip to co-authoring and publishing articles with my adviser, were made possible by the support and generosity of The Davidson Trust. Every day as I walked to class, I would think about how I could get the most out of that day and try to honor the generosity that enabled me to have a world-class education at a smaller financial burden for me and my family. As an alumna, I now think about how I can harness what I learned at Davidson and keep producing theoretical returns on the investment that the trust made in me."
-Savannah Haeger '16
"I am so proud of our Davidson students for hosting Dinner at Davidson for the last eight years. They have decided to invest their time, talents and treasures to ensure that Davidson attracts and retains the best students regardless of their ability to pay. Davidson has blessed me in so many ways, and I feel privileged to be able to join the students in supporting The Davidson Trust. I look forward to hearing their stories–and telling my own–this Saturday afternoon."
-David Barnard '79, board of trustees member and Dinner at Davidson keynote speaker
"We arrived at Davidson from very different places, small town Tennessee and big city California, pursued vastly different interests–one science major, one in the humanities–and now have similarly divergent careers, one entrepreneur and one investment manager. Yet we share the experience that is core to Davidson's mission and ethos: the opportunity to broaden your horizons and engage in pursuits motivated by passion and focus. We see The Davidson Trust as the guarantor of that accessibility for generations to come; a springboard that allows graduates to determine their futures by the breadth of their ambition rather than the encumbrances of their student debt."
-Will '04 and Merin Ayer Guthrie '06
"As we approach the eighth annual Dinner at Davidson, we remind ourselves of the impact The Davidson Trust has had on the Davidson community. The Davidson Trust reinforces the college's commitment to educational access and excellence, which in turn, creates the richness of talent and the diversity of ideas on campus. This year, the dinner has been restructured to support more interaction between Davidson students and event attendees in an effort to expand and enhance the conversation about the trust. We also want to emphasize how putting past and present stories in conversation with one another can contribute to a larger narrative that reflects the Davidson experience. Our committee has put a lot of effort into this year's event and we're really excited to celebrate the trust this weekend."
-Severine Stier '19
"The challenge of accessibility, broadly defined, has been of interest to me since I arrived at Davidson in 1979. I associate greater accessibility with greater diversity. For I would assert that a necessary condition for a diverse student body, in today's United States, requires that education be financially accessible to all of talent and good will.... as we speak of the success of The Davidson Trust, and there is marvelous evidence to support that contention, let us be aware that any success today is likely to have been influenced by the work of those before."
-Clark Ross, Frontis W. Johnston Professor Economics (excerpt from 2016 keynote address)
Dinner at Davidson began in 2010 with a small group of students in the Student Government Association's external affairs committee. Led by Belk Scholar Jordan Starck '12 and McGaw Scholar JD Merrill '13, the small community outreach fundraiser explained the impact of The Davidson Trust to the larger Davidson community and raised a few thousand dollars to support the trust. Each year, the initiative has grown, and since the start of the program, students have raised more than $285,000. The success of Dinner at Davidson has enabled students to create a scholarship–the Student Government Association Davidson Trust Scholarship–which helps bring strong students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to the campus community. In spring 2015, the college graduated its first recipient of the scholarship, and the next two recipients–in the classes of 2017 and 2019–are currently on campus.