Shelby Davis and Philip O. Geier co-founded the Davis UWC Scholars Program in 2000, during Geier’s tenure as president of UWC-USA, seeking ways to have a meaningful impact on individual lives and educational institutions in the 21st century.
They saw the need for expanding educational opportunities and scholarships for promising youth from around the world. They also saw the need for the campuses of American colleges and universities to become more global communities.
“When I started my business career, I took my own history lesson from Princeton: I learned how leaders make a difference, in their countries, in their centuries. So I invested in leaders, and that investment helped me to be successful. I’m looking to invest again in leaders of the future.”
— Shelby Davis
They believed—and their program exemplifies—the conviction that future leaders will be better prepared having lived and learned as students with those who are different from one another. It is their profound hope that creating connections among such future leaders will foster greater international understanding and enhance the possibilities for a better world.
“We strive to foster highly personal relationships between outstanding Americans and non-Americans on U.S. campuses, and to seed global networks. These networks can serve a higher calling of international understanding and common purpose among future leaders.”
— Phil Geier
The Davis UWC Scholars Program currently supports over 4,000 students at nearly a hundred American colleges and universities which have partnered in a shared commitment to the UWC mission of peace through education. Cumulatively, the program has supported over 14,000 students and is continuing to grow.
Shelby M.C. Davis is the founder of and a senior adviser to Davis Selected Advisers, L.P., a mutual fund management company managing more than $40 billion. A history major at Princeton, Class of 1958, he became the Bank of New York’s youngest vice president since Alexander Hamilton before starting his firm.
Since retiring from the world of finance, Davis has focused on “giving back” through the UWC movement, its students, and its graduates. Davis’s philanthropy has invested hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly for need-based scholarships for students from over 150 countries. To broaden access and diversity at all the UWC schools, Davis’s philanthropy has created the “Dare to Dream” initiative. For graduates of the UWC schools, it created the Davis UWC Scholars Program which has grown over the past twenty years from a small pilot program into the world’s largest international scholarship program for undergraduates. Davis, partnering with Geier throughout, remains personally engaged with his philanthropy and its possibilities.
Philip O. Geier currently serves as executive director of the Davis United World College Scholars Program. He is a leader in international education and often serves as an independent consultant specializing in strategic innovation for education and transformative philanthropy.
Geier earned his B.A. with honors at Williams College in 1970 and both his M.A. (1975) and Ph.D. (1980) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He taught history and American Studies at Dickinson College and was awarded a Fulbright in 1977-78 to be a lecturer at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Geier’s passion for cross-cultural learning grew out of that Fulbright year and the remainder of his career (including a second Fulbright) has been devoted to fostering citizen diplomacy through positions at non-profit organizations, foundations, and educational institutions. His role as president of UWC-USA from 1993-2005 led to the partnership with Shelby Davis and the resulting transformative philanthropy that is still evolving.