Gift of $25 Million to Colby Creates New Model for Liberal Arts and Guarantees Global Experiences
With a $25-million gift, Colby College will guarantee global experiences to all students and facilitate multiple opportunities to prepare them for lifelong success. Thanks to the generosity of the Davis family and trustee of its charitable foundation, Andrew Davis ’85, LL.D. ’15, the College announces the creation of DavisConnects, a re-envisioning of the liberal arts in a global context.
In today’s global marketplace, where career paths are increasingly fluid as industries shift to address new realities and where innovation, adaptability, and leadership are increasingly prized, a liberal arts education remains the very best foundation for lifelong success. But the rising cost of higher education and growing demand for an immediate return on that investment have heightened interest in applied and direct-training educational programs.
To meet the changing needs of our time, Colby College has established a new model for the liberal arts. Complementing its focus on a classical, broad-based liberal education that requires deep inquiry, hones critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and encourages curiosity and lifelong learning, Colby now integrates a set of universally available experiences into the academic program. Several opportunities will allow students to connect their education to the world and the great challenges of the 21st century while preparing them for future success in graduate schools and careers.
This new program, DavisConnects, guarantees a global experience for all students, making Colby the first leading liberal arts college to provide funding for every student to spend time abroad. Ultimately, Colby will connect every student to a facilitated and funded set of internships and research experiences, establishing Colby as a leader in global education and offering all Colby students an exceptional and unique set of opportunities that will deepen their education and improve their life outcomes.
“The Davis family changed American higher education by making the best colleges and universities available to deserving students from around the world through the Davis United World College Scholars program,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “That program changed Colby College and the life trajectory of countless students who came here to study and left prepared and committed to changing their communities for the better. Now Andrew Davis and his family are bringing Colby to the world by providing all of our students with rigorous, meaningful global opportunities. DavisConnects is leading a transformation of the liberal arts by demonstrating how research, global, and internship experiences can enrich an education and provide an unlimited set of postgraduate opportunities.”
DavisConnects, housed in a completely refurbished and expanded Grossman Hall in the center of campus, will open in the fall of 2017. There, with the support of a talented staff, students will design a set of experiences to complement their core academic program and connect their courses to the world beyond the academy. Students will begin this design process early in their first year, mapping out a flexible plan of course work with internship, research, and global experiences.
Colby’s new model ensures equitable access, making funding available and offering faculty and staff involvement to help students chart their paths and secure opportunities that previously may have only been available to those with resources, personal connections, or both.
During Colby’s distinctive Jan Plan program, global educational and research programs—created and led by Colby faculty—will now be eligible for funding through DavisConnects.
DavisConnects also creates new opportunities for Colby to support the most-talented students in their pursuits. Students will compete for Davis Global Engagement Fellowships—prestigious awards that provide enhanced support for the next generation of global leaders. When Davis fellows return to campus, they will have the opportunity to participate in the Davis Summit on Global Engagement, an annual on-campus event that will connect the entire Colby community to the College’s global initiatives and priorities.
“Educating truly global citizens and leaders has long been a priority for our family,” said Andrew Davis. “This program goes beyond offering universal access to providing competitive grants to incorporating ways for students to share their new knowledge and perspective with the campus community. It has the potential to truly transform the Colby experience and the trajectories of generations of Colby students. We are honored to be part of that.”
Andrew Davis’s commitment to Colby has included serving as a trustee from 1996 to 1999, and a College overseer, from 1999 to 2006. He has volunteered for Colby’s admissions office, sponsored student internships, and created a scholarship fund in 2004. Thanks to Andrew Davis, his family provided a $10-million lead gift to construct the Davis Science Center on Colby’s campus. In 2016 he founded the Davis New Mexico Scholarship, which provides full scholarships to high-achieving first-generation and low-income students from New Mexico to attend college. He is president of Davis Selected Advisors, where he has managed the Davis Real Estate Fund since its inception in 1993. He studied economics at Colby.
Colby has long been distinguished from its peers by its high rate of study-abroad participation (currently approximately 70 percent) and an international student population that includes students from more than 80 countries.
Recently Colby has announced innovative partnerships and initiatives to expand internship and research opportunities for students. The newly created Colby Labs, focused on providing multidisciplinary approaches to addressing national and global challenges, will be coordinated through DavisConnects. For example, the Buck Environment and Climate Change Lab will connect students interested in policy and environmental science to research and internships at scientific laboratories, nonprofits, corporations, academic institutions, and civic agencies focused on solutions to environmental issues.
In 2000 the Davis United World College Scholars Program (UWC) selected Colby as one of five American colleges and universities to provide full financial funding for UWC graduates who enrolled at one of the pilot institutions. Approximately 60 UWC scholars are currently enrolled at Colby and nearly 250 have graduated. Colby students have also received $10,000 Projects for Peace grants, also funded through the Davis United World College Scholars Program. This year two Colby sophomores were selected to receive a Projects for Peace grant to fund a documentary on environmental activism in China.