Lead By Example

Philip Geier P'06 addresses the audience at Middlebury's Davis UWC Annual Celebration Dinner.

Philip Geier is the cofounder and executive director of the Davis United World College Scholars Program. Geier, along with Shelby Davis, founded the program in 2000 with five pilot schools, one of which was Middlebury College.

Listen to Phil's remarks:

Over a century ago, 110 years ago to be precise, the Rhodes Scholars program was created, signaling the beginning of shaping global citizens through international education. Cecil B. Rhodes was a British colonial pioneer and statesman who had graduated from Oxford in 1882 and when he died in 1902 his will established the prestigious program that to this day carries his name.

Like Rhodes, Shelby Davis is a pioneer and he saw great merit in building his philanthropic investment on a 21st century version of the five principles of Rhodes. At an occasion like this, it's worth remembering those principles:

First, Rhodes and Davis are highly selective—in our case, by limiting candidates to those who have proven themselves initially by winning competitions in their home countries to earn coveted places at UWC schools... and then excelling at those UWC schools;

Second, Rhodes and Davis are multi-national—though Rhodes is limited to former colonies of the British Empire while Davis is far more inclusive with over 140 countries represented;

Third, Rhodes and Davis both look for character and intellect—we value the heart as much as the head;

Fourth, Rhodes and Davis both introduce their scholars to their contemporaries from countries and cultures different from their own- those contemporaries being not only other selected scholars but intentionally also the larger majority of traditional students at our partner schools like Middlebury;

And fifth, Rhodes and Davis both build networks of future leaders—Rhodes can now count approximately 7,000 over 110 years; and thanks to the incredible philanthropic investment of Shelby Davis, we have nearly 5,000 Davis UWC Scholars in just 12 years and that number is climbing by over 600 new scholars each year. Assuming the Davis UWC Scholars Program continues over the next hundred years, there will be a global network of over 70,000 around the world.

So, we are only getting started ... and so are you Davis UWC Scholars. You are coming of age in a vastly different world than the one Rhodes knew, one different even from the one Shelby and I have known.

Boundary-less technology and communications make your reach and impact unprecedented. Transparency and access have led to rising expectations in all quarters of the world. The geopolitical landscape is reinventing itself as much from the bottom-up as from top-down. The global context you enter is filled with amazing opportunities and possibilities, yet these are threatened and constrained by a darker, more ominous side characterized by security, environmental and economic threats.

One of the great challenges you Davis UWC Scholars face as a generation of new leaders in the 21st century is how to reconcile being at once a national in an inter-national world and a global citizen in a world of issues and aspirations which transcend traditional boundaries.

Tonight we celebrate you Davis UWC Scholars and extend special congratulations to you senior scholars, now about to graduate. As each of you pursue your own hopes and dreams, you will be well served to never forget the principled commitment of a philanthropist who invested in you. May you, like Cecil Rhodes and Shelby Davis before you, be pioneers, lead by example, and give back.