Davidson College president honing vision
by Staff Writer
After a semester of taking it all in, Davidson College’s new president says she’s ready to tackle some of the challenges facing one of the state’s top colleges.
President Carol Quillen plans to create new ways to improve student and faculty recruitment, define liberal arts education and help students leave school prepared to go into the career field.
Since she arrived from Rice University in Houston, Texas, Aug. 1, some of Davidson’s strengths that Quillen has articulated include the small school’s athletic strength, connection to the Presbyterian church and commitment to allowing qualified, eager students access to a Davidson education regardless of their economic situation.
“How can we recruit and support and graduate the students whom we most want?” Quillen said is one of the questions she is now trying to answer.
Aside from beefing up recruitment efforts, student support depends on continued financial growth. Around 60 percent of Davidson alumni give back to the school, and Quillen plans to build stronger relationships with alumni to make them realize how crucial their support is, she said.
Globalization, an area Quillen developed at Rice, will also be a factor in Davidson’s future. While a large percentage of Davidson students currently study abroad, Quillen is looking to collaborate with existing institutions to provide more international opportunities.
Davidson has built strong programs like neuroscience, Latin American studies and environmental studies.
“All those areas, multidisciplinary areas, require collaboration across departmental lines and help students to see problems from multiple perspectives and give them experience in the world,” Quillen said. “I think we need to figure out which of those programs we’re going to focus on and build them.”
Part of that growth will involve building up Davidson’s computer science capabilities and increasing undergraduate research opportunities.
These developments will further enrich a Davidson education, ideally bridging the gap between the classroom and career.
“Somehow Davidson has created a culture that asks people to become the person they most want to be,” Quillen said. “We just want to help them get to the place where they’re making the difference they’ve come to see they want to make in the world.”