WATERVILLE — Colby College has received a $25 million gift from the Davis Family Foundation that guarantees every Colby student may travel abroad for an internship or work experience, research or fellowship program.
Colby is the first liberal arts college in its peer group to fund such global experiences for students, according to college officials.
The new program, DavisConnects, establishes Colby as a leader in global education and offers all students an exceptional set of opportunities that will deepen their education and improve their life outcomes, according to a Colby news release.
“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,” Colby President David A. Greene said in the release. “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.”
Davis studied economics at Colby and graduated from the college in 1985. He also received a doctor of laws degree from Colby in 2015.
Davis is a trustee of the Davis charitable foundation and will be on campus Thursday to help celebrate the new program. DavisConnects, according to Greene, 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.”
The DavisConnects program will be housed in Grossman Hall on the Colby campus and will open in the fall. The building, formerly a dormitory, has been expanded and refurbished and will be used for students to design a set of experiences to complement their core academic program and connect their resources to the world beyond the academy, according to the news release. With support from staff, students will start the design process early in their first year, mapping out a flexible plan of coursework with internship, research and global experiences.
DavisConnects is a re-envisioning of the liberal arts in a global context, guaranteeing a global experience for students and making the college the first leading liberal arts college to provide funding for every student to spend time abroad, according to the release. While a liberal arts education provides the best foundation for lifelong success, the rising cost of higher education and growing demand for an immediate return on investment have heightened interest in applied and direct-training education programs. The new liberal arts model offers faculty and staff involvement to help students chart their paths and have opportunities that might have been available only to those with resources, personal connections or both, according to the college. Currently, about 70 percent of Colby students take part in studying abroad.
Global education and research programs created and led by Colby faculty members during Jan Plan will be eligible for funding through DavisConnects, according to the release. Jan Plan is a program students take part in during the month of January. Also, DavisConnects will enable Colby to support its most talented students. They may compete for Davis Global Engagement Fellowships, which are prestigious awards providing enhanced support for the next generation of global leaders. When Davis fellows return to Colby, they have the chance to take part in the Davis Summit on Global Engagement, an annual event that connects the college community to its global initiatives and priorities.
“Educating truly global citizens and leaders has long been a priority for our family,” Davis said in the news release. “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.”
Davis was a member of Colby’s board of trustees from 1996 to 1999 and was a college overseer from 1999 to 2006. He has been a volunteer for the admissions office, sponsored student internships and, in 2004, created a scholarship fund. His family provided a $10 million lead gift to build the Davis Science Center on campus. Davis in 2016 founded the Davis New Mexico Scholarship, which gives full scholarships to high-achieving first generation and low-income students from New Mexico to attend college.
Davis is president of Davis Selected Advisors, for which he has managed the Davis Real Estate Fund since its inception in 1993.
Colby recently announced innovative partnerships and initiatives to expand internship and research opportunities for students. The newly created Colby Labs, which focuses on providing multidisciplinary approaches to addressing national and global challenges, will be coordinated through DavisConnects, according to the news release.
The Davis United World College Scholars Program chose Colby as one of five American colleges and universities to provide full financial funding for United World College scholars enrolled at one of its pilot institutions. About 60 such scholars are enrolled at Colby and nearly 250 have graduated. Students also have received $10,000 Projects for Peace grants funded through the Davis United World Scholars Program.
Amy Calder — 861-9247