• Preach! Preston Davis ’06 Joins High Point University


    Rev. Preston, clickable.

    A livelier nut, in all the best ways, I do not know than the Rev. Preston Davis ’06.

    From his crazy (we have pictures) post-grad days as a Davidson Fellow to occasional campus sightings since, Preston’s just one of those people you’re glad to see coming.

    And that’s just who you want in a college chaplain’s office (for example, see Davidson’s College Chaplain Rob Spach ’84—really, go see him; you’ll feel better about everything, I promise!) So now Preston is in the chaplain’s office at High Point University.

    Congratulations to Preston—and to HPU!

  • Two Birds, One Backpack: Back to School and Packing Up Poverty with PAX



    Pax Backpacks is about to go live. Slated for sales launch Monday, August 5, the for-profit backpack company with a conscience is the entrepreneurial brainchild of Joe Morrison ’14.

    “This backpack is super simple and super durable,” says Morrison. “You’re making an investment. This bag is going to last a long, long time.”

    Morrison hopes the good that his fledgling company creates will last a long time, too. He will donate 22 percent of profits to Citizens Schools, a non-profit operating in locations in North Carolina and a handful of other states, dedicated to bridging the educational “opportunity gap” with resources and programming in high-poverty schools. Why 22 percent?

    “That’s the percentage of children in the U.S. who live under the federal poverty level. That’s more than 16 million kids,” says Morrison. The Pax Backpacks website launched today, Friday, amid a blitz of social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Pre-ordering begins Monday on IndieGoGo.com.

    Morrison’s confidence in his product and business plan springs from the launchpad of the Davidson College Venture Lab, a new start-up incubator designed to accelerate the development of Davidson’s aspiring entrepreneurs through experiential education. The program’s other inaugural student participant is Tori Mayernick ’14, founder of Hives for Lives (H4L), a student run non-profit that sells local, natural honey to raise money for cancer research.

    Joe Morrison ’14 in Venice, while traveling after a semester studying abroad in Ireland: “If only I’d had a Pax backpack then….”

    Morrison’s passion for the social justice component of his Pax Backpacks business model springs from another seminal Davidson experience, his community service as a freshman Bonner Scholar tutoring and mentoring after-school students at the Ada Jenkins Community Center in Davidson.

    “There was this one kid who had a lot of challenges in his life: behavioral problems, parental absence, learning disability, poverty, failing courses. It was exhausting and frustrating,” Joe said. Over the course of that year, Joe saw the trust that he and the student developed lay a foundation for the young student’s progress. “One thing that works above everything else is long-term relationships.”

    Even so, the student’s home situation changed and he was lost from Joe’s sight. “Not knowing how [he’s] doing right now motivates me to help other third-graders get the structured support and relationships they need,” Morrison said.

    He believes that doing good and doing well in a for-profit environment is the coming way of the business world he’s already entering, even before graduation. “To be recognized as a new business today, you have to have a social or environmental component that’s not just a throwaway,” he says.

    At the same time, the bottom line is the bottom line: “In the end, I don’t care so much about people’s motivation, I just want to see results. I care what you’re doing and I care what impact that’s having.”

    It’s all in the company tagline: “Pax Backpacks—Pack up poverty.”

    • Read more about Morrison’s and Mayernick’s work with Venture Labs.

    • Read more about Mayernick’s work with Hives for Lives in the Fall 2013 Davidson Journal feature story, Bee-Havior Modification.


  • August 1: Welcome, Dean Wendy Raymond!


    Is there an “audition reel” component to applying for this job? (Click for video.)

    Today is the first official day on the job for Wendy Raymond, the college’s new vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. Welcome, Dean Raymond! We’re glad you’re here, and we look forward to knowing you and working with you.

    As we welcome Dean Raymond to Davidson, and wish Clark Ross well on a well-earned sabbatical and then a happy return to the Davidson classroom, it seems appropriate to share a video of Davidson by the numbers that Verna Case, associate dean for teaching, learning and research, prepared in honor of Clark’s tenure as dean. It feels useful and grounding to survey the recently traversed landscape of the life of the mind at Davidson as we rally to support the new leadership of Dean Raymond and continue imagining—and reimagining— the liberal arts and sciences for today and tomorrow. Onward!


  • Kudos and Congratulations to Head Baseball Coach Dick Cooke and His Whole Family!


    Head Baseball Coach Cooke. Clickable.

    Head Baseball Coach has won the 2013 Tom Walter Inspiration Award, named for the Wake Forest Coach who donated a kidney to freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan before the 2011 season. Cooke was seriously injured in a car accident last September, and he and his family have inspired many across campus and beyond as he ground his way back to the dugout through grueling rehabilitation and sheer grit.

    “It’s not the recognition you necessarily seek, considering the circumstances, but throughout this process and continuing daily, I have been humbled by the support I have received from everyone here at Davidson College, the town and the baseball community as a whole,” Cooke told davidsonwildcats.com. What a class act.

    Read “Cooke Named Recipient of CBI Inspiration Award” and see the Coach Cook video feature.

    Congratulations and bravo, Dick!

  • Washington Post: “KIPP builds college pipeline through written agreements”


    July Experience is one of many academic and athletic programs on Davidson’s campus in the summertime. (photo Bill Giduz) (clickable)

    The Washington Post takes note of one of the college’s flagship summer academic programs: “Starting in October 2011, KIPP [Knowledge Is Power Program] and college leaders signed pledges to create recruiting pipelines and campus support systems for students who often lack the higher-education connections routinely found in affluent communities.”

    • Read the Washington Post article.

    And wait, that’s not all! Read other summertime news:

    • National Geographic coverage of a Davidson College turtle study

    July Experience for high school students

    • Davidson’s Freedom School

    New 3-D imaging capabilities

    What’s new in old texts in the Rare Book Room

    Davidson newsroom page

  • Reports of Death of Liberal Arts Greatly Exaggerated



    As I am working on a story about the value of a liberal arts education in today’s employment culture (dba “the job market), the contribution of Rachel Knox ’93 to this Wall Street Journal exchange of ideas about the state of the liberal arts and humanities caught my eye. Thanks, Rachel, I needed that!

    So now I’m all curious about what experiences and perspectives other alumni of all ages and majors might share about the value of their Davidson education in the workplace.

    What was your major? How does it relate directly to your career, or not? Indirectly? More broadly, how has your overall liberal arts perspective come to bear in your work life since graduation? In other words, discuss the history of the wide world in the context of your own large life. Be brief, concise and specific. Give three examples. Begin.

    Seriously. I want to know.

    Extra credit: Why do we call it the “liberal arts”?

    Contact josyme [at] davidson.edu or on Daybook Davidson’s Facebook page.

  • Art: Nature or Nurture? Summertime Strolling on the Davidson Campus


    “Have a great summer break!” students enthuse toward the rest of us at the end of every academic year, bless their hearts. Of course, college and campus continue through the summer months, albeit at a lower, slower pace. That pace, too, has its story, and summer is an outstanding time to enjoy the campus’s wide open, shady spaces.

    Chambers Building: Click for archival link.

    Davidson’s campus is a National Arboretum, a designation bestowed in 1986. The most visible and useful effect of this state of affairs for the casual visitor is the botanical name tags on nearly every tree on the front campus. A more primal and profound effect is the sweetness of artistic balance between nature and nurture that the campus expresses, the nothing-could-be-finer natural bounty of the Carolina piedmont as nurtured by a dedicated grounds crew second to none.

    The art of nature and nurture is at the heart of a complementary initiative that is creating a growing footprint, the campus sculpture program. It began in 2007 with the inauguration of the sculpture garden in Richardson Plaza between the Chambers and the E.H. Little Library. Next came the nearby installation of Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz’s The Group of Ten in 2012. This spring saw the unveiling of Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s Waves III. There’s more to come, says Lia Newman, director and curator of the college’s Van Every/Smith Galleries.


    In his remarks at the Plensa dedication, Professor and Chair of Art Cort Savage evoked the power of sculpture on this campus to create time and space for true contemplation, “the thoughts between thoughts.” Even more broadly, Davidson’s sculpted, arboreal summertime campus is a reflection writ large in answer to the age-old human yearning to wander and wonder. To that end, take a few minutes to explore the links on this page (campus sculpture maps are also available at E.H. Little Library, Carnegie Guest House, the Office of Admission and the Village Inn) and strike out to discover something you didn’t know about  the campus, and its sculptures, and its trees—and maybe yourself!

  • Davidson Outdoors’ Odyssey XXVIII Predicted to Remain “Best Thing Ever”


    Text corrected: Odyssey is open to all new students, not just first-years. The shorter Backcountry session is five days, not four.

    I stopped by the Davidson Outdoors basement-cave-office-depot and climbing wall in Alvarez College Union to cadge a few drops of chain oil from the bike repair station in the back. Good Mike Goode ’83, assistant director of Davidson Outdoors, fixed me up with the latest: synthetic oil that attracts less chain grime. Thanks, Mike!

    “All forward!”

    Mike and Ed Daugherty ’85, the program’s director, are gearing up for this summer’s Backcountry Odyssey program for incoming new students. (There is also a Service Odyssey program, a separate offering through the Center for Civic Engagement). New this summer will be a shorter Backcountry Odyssey Session I (five days instead of eight), as well as a shorter option in one segment of Session III, to accommodate students who need to get to campus earlier than regular New Student Orientation. The changes present a wider array of options for new incoming students with a wide array of summer scheduling commitments, Ed said. The program is open to all incoming first-years and transfer students.

    What’s the same as ever this year is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Odyssey XXVIII will offer incoming students to get to know—really know—a small band of their new best friends before the full crush of nearly 2,000 students begin live-streaming into campus for the start of classes Aug. 26. This is perennially cited as “the best thing ever” by many Davidson students.

    The  camaraderie of the people who live and work on Davidson’s closeknit campus is a large part of the power of this place. Odyssey front-loads the student experience with the kind of friendships formed best and strongest in the crucible of shared experience: safety training and service work, partner paddling down a deep green canyon under a big blue sky, communal meal preparation, meditative campfire debriefs of the day, and whispered hilarity between tents common to campgrounds across the land.

    “It’s epic,” says Lilly Wilson ’13, an “old hand” now working at Davidson Outdoors.

    Click here for a sample peek back to Odyssey XXVI and other D.O. coverage. For a peek forward for members of the class of 2017, click the link above and sign up for your own once-in-a-lifetime Odyssey!

  • UPDATED—Spotted Fundraisers, Noon Deadline: Will Work for Fresh Bagels



    Updated 2218 EST

    As of 9:29 pm, we are 104 folks away from our 1,000 Challenge donor goal. 

    Updated 1400 EST:

    Wow Davidson!

    We are overwhelmed by the response to the Challenge – 562 donors have made a gift, securing the four $25,000 Davidson Trust scholarships!

    But wait! There is more…

    The anonymous challengers are so impressed and inspired by the response, they have promised an additional two $25,000 Davidson Trust scholarships if we secure 500 more donors by end of today.

    Total award for the Challenge: 1,000 donors in 24 hours = $150,000 Davidson Trust scholarship dollars for members of the Class of 2017. 

    The stakes are high; make your gift today!

    Original post: This morning on my bike ride back to ye olde Julia Johnston House office after breakfast in the Union, I spotted an excited klatch of fundraisers milling about in their natural habitat, the sidewalks of Main Street. They said we need 500 donors of any size gift by noon today to meet our current challenge. Now, I’m all excited, too! Davidson, after all, is tops nationally in alumni giving, and we want to keep it that way.

    I want to do my small part, so I personally commit here to buy one hard-working fundraiser a bagel tomorrow for every 1985 classmate of mine who donates by noon today.

    Make a pay-it-forward mini-challenge for your own class, it’s fun for the whole Davidson family!

    Click now, operators are standing by!

  • David Brooks: “The Humanist Vocation”


    David Brooks, Duke Family Performance Hall, November 2012

    David Brooks gives his University of Chicago classmate Carol Quillen and Davidson a shout-out in his June 20 column, “The Humanist Vocation.”

    “One of the great history teachers in those days was a University of Chicago professor named Karl Weintraub. He poured his soul into transforming his students’ lives, but, even then, he sometimes wondered if they were really listening. Late in life, he wrote a note to my classmate Carol Quillen, who now helps carry on this legacy as president of Davidson College,” Brooks wrote. Read the whole column here.

    Brooks visited Davidson in November 2012, where he gave a talk, “What It Means: The 2012 Election and the Future of America.”

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