Philanthropist to donate $13.5 million for UWC scholarships

By Amy Lieberman

Philanthropist Shelby Davis will donate $13.5 million to support Macalester international students who come from the United World Colleges, a group of 12 international secondary schools, Macalester announced Thursday. Davis, founder of Davis Advisors, L.P., a mutual fund and money management firm, already grants all Macalester international students who come from UWC $10,000 per academic year. The $13.5 million gift will provide these students with $20,000 each year.

This constitutes the largest single donation Macalester has received for this cause, Director of College Relations Doug Stone said.

“UWC students are so motivated and hungry for knowledge,” Davis said, according to the March 6 College Relations press release. “And the UWC mission is to achieve peace and understanding through education. These students pick this up rapidly and want to make a difference in the world. So that makes me a passionate giver, to follow that lead.”

Davis is making the gift through the Davis United World College Scholars Program, which funds undergraduate study for UWC students at 76 American universities and colleges, including Macalester.

According to the press release, 93 Davis scholars currently attend Macalester; 33 of them will graduate this spring.

Mongolia native Nagi Otgonshar ’08, who graduated from the Red Cross Nordic UWC in Norway, said that Davis’ donation might lend to a more diverse group of international students at Macalester.

“Obviously, it is great,” Otgonshar said. “One of the biggest burdens for international students is financial aid. This will allow more students from UWC colleges to study at Mac, regardless of their financial backgrounds, regardless of if they are able to pay off the loans.”

Innocent Dlamini ’08 hails from Swaziland and attended the Mahindra United World College of India. He said that aside from Macalester’s reputation as “an internationally focused” school with a high level of “academic excellence,” the issue of cost was also a major factor for him. The Davis Scholars Program offered a solution.

“The Davis Scholars Program was high in my priorities,” he said.

The announcement of the donation is timed with Davis’ appearances on campus this week. On Thursday he attended the dinner Macalester hosted in his and former UWC president Philip O. Geir’s honor. Davis will speak to students today from 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. in Carnegie 06.