Middlebury

Middlebury College School of Russian named for Kathryn Wasserman Davis

August 18, 2006


Davis commits $2 million to establish "100 Projects for Peace" and "100 Summer Scholarships for Peace"


MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? One of Middlebury College's nine summer Language Schools, the School of Russian, has been named the Kathryn Wasserman Davis School of Russian in honor of a longtime philanthropist and Russian scholar. Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz made the announcement on Friday, Aug. 18, at the Language Schools commencement of its 92nd summer session in Mead Chapel. President Liebowitz also announced that, in honor of her upcoming 100th birthday, Davis will contribute $2 million to fund major initiatives for peace during 2007.

The School of Russian is the first of the Middlebury College Language Schools to bear a commemorative name. "We are proud and pleased to mark this inaugural occasion by honoring such a distinguished and deserving member of our greater community," said Liebowitz. "Mrs. Davis has dedicated her life to furthering international education and an appreciation for Russian affairs. The Kathryn Wasserman Davis School of Russian will continue in its stellar tradition of providing students with the finest intensive language experience possible."

With her gift for "100 Projects for Peace," Davis invites students at Middlebury College and 75 other colleges and universities in the United States that also participate in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects for peace that they will implement anywhere in the world during the summer of 2007. Davis is committing $1 million to this program so that the 100 projects judged to be most promising will each qualify for a $10,000 grant. Liebowitz praised Mrs. Davis for calling upon this generation to offer new avenues for world peace. "It is refreshing to see a philanthropist invest in our youth by challenging them to use their creativity, passion and initiative to create a better world," said Liebowitz.

A second initiative, "100 Summer Scholarships for Peace," challenges Middlebury College and its new affiliate, the Monterey Institute for International Studies, to use the institutions' combined expertise in language acquisition and policy studies to recruit and train future potential peacemakers. Davis is committing another $1 million toward 100 summer scholarships of $10,000 each for the intensive study of critical languages and related global issues during the summer of 2007.

"Now in her 100th year, Mrs. Davis wants to improve the prospects for peace in the 21st century by launching two important initiatives," said Liebowitz. "We thank her not only for her generosity but for her sense of immediacy and urgency in bringing new ideas and new voices to serve the peace-building process."

Davis was born in Philadelphia in 1907 and married Shelby Cullom Davis in 1932. They met on a train in Geneva in 1930 and discovered they had both recently traveled in Russia. Her husband, who died in 1994, became well known as one of Wall Street's greatest investors, and their son, Shelby Moore Cullom Davis has become a notably generous philanthropist through the Davis United World College Scholars Program, which finances the educations of more than 1,000 international students at Middlebury College and 75 other educational institutions that participate in the program. Mrs. Davis' grandson, Lansing Davis, graduated from Middlebury in 2001.

Davis earned a bachelor's degree in Russian history from Wellesley College in 1928 and a master's degree in history from Columbia University in 1931. After their marriage, she and her husband returned to Switzerland, where she earned a doctorate in political science from the University of Geneva in 1934. Her doctoral thesis focused on Russia's relationship with the League of Nations and was published the day the Soviet Union joined the organization in 1934.