All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Dinner at Davidson’

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John W. Kuykendall ’59 on the Honor Code: “An Experiment in Trust Continues”

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President Emeritus John W. Kuykendall ’59 often glances down at the red spirit bracelet that he, like many Davidsonians, wears on his wrist in support of The Davidson Trust.

“‘Davidson trusted me.’ That’s not a bad way to start and end my day!” Kuykendall told a nearly standing-room-only 900 Room at Common Hour on Thursday. The Davidson Trust is the college’s commitment to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need of accepted students through a combination of grants and campus employment, without relying on loans, in support of the college’s longstanding commitment to need-blind admission.

Kuykendall stood before us to talk about other aspects of trust as well, he said, commending the broad, essential definition of the word that includes honor and civility and personal commitment. Specifically, he was there to talk about Davidson’s Honor Code, in an Honor Council Speaker Series talk that was part of the “Ten Days of Trust” events leading up to the annual, student-led Dinner at Davidson fundraiser tonight. His talk, “An Experiment in Trust Continues,” was an update of a 2009 iteration, “An Experiment in Trust.”

“If you quote from your own work without attribution, is it plagiarism?” he wondered aloud, to knowing, appreciative laughter.

Davidson’s Honor Code is not unique in letter, but is certainly so in spirit and in particularity, said Kuykendall, who was president of the student body when the Honor Council came into being. He recalled some of the conversations of that time, when the student body leaders who applied and also protected the Honor Code saw a need to separate the legislative and judicial functions of their work. There was also no insignificant discussion then of the proper roles of forgiveness and grace and redemption and reconciliation, he said, all aspects of the Reformed Tradition on which Davidson itself was founded. From those discussions, the Honor Council in more or less its current form was born.

Kuykendall is an orator of the foremost ranks, whose expressive cadences translate well into his own written word but perhaps less so to others’. So I encourage you to make time, take time or otherwise shake out some time to stop, look and listen (above) to his most recent thoughts on this quintessentially Davidson topic.

“We may be swimming against the tide,” he said, the sad note in his voice undergirded by quiet defiance as he related some latest statistics on cheating in high school. “At Davidson, your word is your bond, and your work must be your own. Welcome to ‘the bubble,’ so they say. Weal or woe—and let’s hope it’s weal—you are in the middle of it…. But I don’t like ‘the Davidson bubble.’ Davidson is not a bubble. It is a crucible.”

Kuykendall further encouraged listeners to read President Carol Quillen’s recent article on The Huffington Post, “Trust’s Legacy: Davidson’s Honor Code.”

I will add to that a link to alma mater’s bedrock Statement of Purpose. I still have the paper copy that came with my letter of employment in 2001. It is good to read it regularly, just as it’s good to read and hear the current thoughts of both Kuykendall and Quillen on trust, on honor, on what Davidson means in the world today.

I say thank you to them both, in the same spirit that every person in the 900 Room yesterday stood when Kuykendall was finished. It was an ovation for a speech well-delivered, yes, but it was more than that. It was a matter of honor, alive, here, now, unique in spirit and in particularity.

 

 

Thanks, I Needed That: Presidential Passion, Insight and Commitment

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I got to work late to start the week off on a cold and rainy Monday morning, in a loaner car and a bad mood, looking forward to lunch and not much else. Grrr, I was like.

So thank the gods for this particular Monday morning’s special staff-meeting guest speaker, President Carol Quillen. Carol Quillen is flat-out inspiring on the podium, as down-to-earth as a favorite professor while soaring skyward to eagle-eye the big picture of higher education passions and insights that brought her to us in the first place. All that to say: You can feel this woman think. By the end of the hour, I was like, “Thanks, I needed that!”

President Carol Quillen: “Like”

Carol, who can by wry, somewhat facetiously described her job as “talking to really smart people and repeating what they say to other really smart people.” That small comment got a big laugh from the assembled, a smart crowd of fundraisers and communicators. Then she talked specifically and with conviction about how Davidson is superbly, even uniquely, positioned in 2013 for “reimagining the liberal arts,” so that we can continue to ensure an “unsurpassed, transformational education” to Davidson students. She talked about a currently trending umbrella concept on this campus, “transition to impact,” a term encompassing internships and entrepreneurship and career services programming and post-graduate fellowships and community-based learning and more initiatives still emerging. And in the meantime, for anyone who doubts how highly the market values a solid liberal arts education, feast your peepers on this report about where members of the class of 2012 currently find themselves.

She talked about March Madness (of course!) and the college’s firm commitment to its 21 Division I men’s and women’s athletic teams as a(nother) unique Davidson calling card among liberal arts colleges and as an integrated part of the Davidson experience for all our nearly 2,000 students. “There’s one door into Davidson,” she said, and “Our student-athletes go to class the day after the big game,” and “People who compete at the highest levels of athletics gain skills you can’t get anywhere else.”

She paired Davidson’s longstanding and continuously emerging reputation for excellence—academic, athletic, and otherwise—with the college’s paramount intention of access for all, as embodied in The Davidson Trust. The Davidson Trust is the college’s commitment to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students without the necessity for loans.

She cited David Leonhardt’s current New York Times piece, Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor.

“That’s tragic,” she said. “We can’t have a society where the primary predictor of a young person’s chance at education is the income or inheritance of their parents…. The Davidson Trust makes equal opportunity real.

“Our value proposition is not that we are cheap,” she continued, and I nearly snorted coffee out my nose. Right she is, I thought, and let’s call things by their name. Not cheap and worth it.

Higher education is becoming ever more “highly differentiated,” she noted. That’s great, she said, and all the more important, then, to define exactly what a Davidson education means, and can mean.

“Our curriculum is based on students doing things, on professors asking questions for which nobody knows the answers yet,” she said. “Our faculty is always going to be overwhelmingly tenured and tenure-track and part of the community.”

Aaaannd we’re back to “not cheap.” Also not scalable, she noted, but a one-student, one-family at a time proposition. That’s how we learn and how we live, at Davidson. You can’t do that online. And we are figuring out the enormous challenge of steady funding for The Davidson Trust and we shall continue to do so, she said with no small emphasis. If Carol Quillen were the type to put her hands on her hips and stare down educational injustice with a big ol’ schoolmarm stinkeye, she would have done so here. As it is, she’s lighter than that and more forward- and upward-looking, especially as regards standing behind The Davidson Trust. So she looked around the room and declared to us, clearly with the highest personal, professional and institutional conviction, “I don’t think it’s a choice. It’s an ethical obligation…. We believe we can do it, because we believe we can do anything.”

And having spent a good portion of the rest of the rainy Monday on campus among Davidson students, I believe it, too.

Thanks, Carol, and colleagues, and students, I needed that.

For more on what Davidson students are up to right this red-hot minute, check out the campus calendar.

In addition to March Madness, two of this week’s top opps to see Davidson students live in their natural habitat:

Guys and Dolls opens Wednesday! Need I say more?

• A Beekeeping Summit open to the community from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 20 in the C.Shaw Smith 900 Room of the Alvarez College Union. Free samples!

And coming soon [drum roll please]:

Dinner at Davidson, the student-run benefit dinner for The Davidson Trust, Saturday, April 6. Mark your calendar and come speak up close and personal with some sharp young Davidson College students. It’ll make you feel hopeful about the future.

“Dinner at Davidson” Shindig Set for Feb. 19: Students Will Show and Tell What The Davidson Trust Means to Them

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As an onetime newspaper reporter, I still get a deadline charge out of writing hard news copy that feels especially urgent, as well as important. Two days ago, I was able to get in touch with Joseph Stills, class of ’12, within hours of his safe return from Alexandria, Egypt to the U.S. Within another hour, I had posted pictures and a just-the-facts story of his being evacuated from Egypt as the tide of violence rose around him. Wow. (Scroll down for that story.)

Another story that’s both urgent and important right now in the life of the college is sustaining The Davidson Trust. That’s the college’s historic financial aid commitment to meet 100% of demonstrated need of accepted students through a combination of grants and campus employment, with no loans.

Today’s seniors were rising freshmen when Davidson announced this initiative, the first of its kind among four-year colleges in the nation. Some other schools followed Davidson’s lead, and some of them have since had to let go of their commitment in the face of current economic crises.

Davidson is holding fast. And this month, it is the students themselves who are rallying to support the commitment, by designating February The Davidson Trust Awareness Month.

Since I know many of these young men and women personally through my work and our campus friendships, it makes me proud and happy for them, and for this school we share, that they “get” it: The Davidson Trust benefits all of Davidson’s 1,900 students, not just the ones who receive scholarship money. It also benefits the college’s 800+ staff and faculty employees. It benefits the spirit of the place.

On Saturday, February 19, the Student Government Association will host the second annual Dinner at Davidson event in the Lilly Family Gallery in the Chambers Building from 6 to 9 p.m., to benefit The Davidson Trust. The public is invited!

The theme of this year’s event is “Shaping Community Leaders.” Highlights include dinner, dancing, musical entertainment and a silent auction. Alongside many notable items for bid, my newsroom colleague Bill Giduz and I are offering a 1,000-word profile essay with professional portrait photography on a community member of the winning bidder’s choice. That profile will be published on the very screen before you now.

At the Dinner at Davidson party on Feb. 19, President John Kuykendall ’59 (himself a scholarship student), Town of Davidson Mayor John Woods, and students who support and appreciate The Davidson Trust will share their perspectives. Attendees will enjoy a seated, gourmet meal created by the student-run cooking club PS. Musical entertainment will be provided by student a capella groups and the Davidson Jazz Band. In addition, there will be an original poetry recitation highlighting the role of The Davidson Trust in Davidson students’ lives.

I can personally vouch for all these individuals and student groups as being worthy contributors to a fun, lively evening of food, fun and fellowship for an eminently worthy cause. See you there!

All proceeds will benefit The Davidson Trust. Tickets are $15 each, or $25 for two. They are available for purchase online, by calling (704) 894-2135, or by visiting the Davidson College Ticket Office in the Alvarez College Union.