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Davis United World College Scholars


Shelby Davis Gives His Own Thanks

It is time to say “thank you” to some people who supported our work right from the start, and encouraged us along the way.

First, thanks to Phil and Amy Geier, who invited me to visit UWC-USA in Montezuma, New Mexico back when Phil was its president, as he was for 12 years. Phil and Amy introduced me to the UWC movement, and I guess the rest is history. Phil is now my partner and co-founder of the Davis UWC Scholars Program.

Second, thanks to Ron Leibowitz and his predecessor John McCardell, both former presidents of Middlebury College who were big early supporters. They helped us get the ball rolling, and it is still rolling with new president Laurie Patton. On the Middlebury campus, thanks also to Mike and Jane Schoenfeld, who for the last two decades have been cheerleaders for UWC students. These people were all early believers in UWC students, and they quickly made a believer out of me. 

Early in the Davis UWC Scholars Program, Middlebury offered us office space and support for our program headquarters. Soon after, we were fortunate to convince Jane Schoenfeld to coordinate our program, a position she held until her retirement at the end of 2016. Then Middlebury helped us publish our annual yearbook, locating a writer, a graphic designer, photographers, printers, and mailing experts. We now send out thousands of copies of this report to our partner institutions around the U.S., for their students, admissions officers, and boards of trustees. We also send the report to all the UWC schools. Each year, all our graduating seniors can have their color photographs in this book — and getting these photos, from more than 630 seniors at 94 campuses, is a job in itself. For that and much more, we owe thanks to Jane and to her successor, Lisa Viau.

Finally, Middlebury helped us set up and keep up to date our DUWCS Program website. On it, you will find all the statistics on the program, as well as videos and articles about graduates and students making news today. We could not live without it. I can truly say Middlebury led the way. 

Our campus liaison at Middlebury, Mike Schoenfeld, would always say that he loved the stories he heard from students on his trips to far-flung UWC campuses. I also heard this from the head of admissions at Princeton. Once, Mike even invited the chairman of his college’s board on his annual scouting trip to UWCs. They all said that “seeing is believing,” and after visiting a few UWCs with Phil, I got the message — and I keep getting it from every UWC school and partner-college campus that I visit. 

I must say, I’ve had the same thrill building and growing the Davis UWC Scholars Program that I had building our investment-management business in New York. The only difference is that, during my working years, the money was rolling in; now, as our student numbers grow, the money is rolling out. I admit that sometimes it is stressful, but I guess the bottom line is that I like growth. Just think about it: having almost 2,700 scholars at 94 partner colleges and universities, plus almost 5,000 alumni scholars, probably makes our extended Davis family the world’s biggest family. Just thinking about this can make my day.  

We know that having Davis UWC Scholars on all these campuses helps Americans broaden their knowledge about other countries, cultures, and customs. We know about our scholars’ energy and enthusiasm; they have both empathy and motivation, and they have an extraordinary global awareness. They all really want to make the world work as their UWC worked — spreading tolerance and respect for differences as we all strive to get along as human beings on this planet. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, was a great friend of the UWC; his kids were educated at Waterford Kamhlaba UWC in Swaziland. He gave this advice: “Do a little bit of good wherever you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that will overwhelm the world, and make you a better person too.” He is now in his mid-80s, and when we met him a few years ago he was surrounded by a large group of adoring students wanting to touch his hand. He loves young people! He tells them, “Just call me Arch.”

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church in England more than 200 years ago, put the same thought this way: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” 

The words of these famous men are worth taking to heart. That’s what I am trying to do, and I hope you will too. UWC has trained us all to think and live this way. 

My best to all of you.