In 2007, in celebration of her 100th birthday, Kathryn Wasserman Davis made a transformative gift of $1 million to establish the Kathryn Davis Fellowships for Peace at Middlebury College and the Monterey Institute for International Studies.
The fellowships supported a summer of language study for 100 students and professionals committed to learning a critical language—Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, or Portuguese—and to using their language skills to advance intercultural communication, understanding, and cooperation.
In 2008, Mrs. Davis committed to another five years of support for the program, with an additional 100 $10,000 fellowships to be awarded each year. Recipients have included students, teachers, business people, journalists, and employees of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
“In turning to us to realize her intention of funding the studies of future peacemakers, Kathryn Davis has affirmed our institutional objectives,” President Ronald D. Liebowitz observes. “What's more, she has set in motion far-reaching programmatic growth. And after three years of awarding these fellowships, we have begun to see a ripple effect in the wider world.”
Mrs. Davis has pursued an interest in intercultural dialogue throughout her life. She holds degrees in Russian studies and history from Wellesley College and Columbia University, as well as a doctorate in political science from the University of Geneva.
In addition to the Fellowships for Peace, she supports the undergraduate Projects for Peace program at Middlebury and several academic programs dedicated to the study of the former Soviet bloc. She hopes these programs will inspire others to get involved in initiatives promoting international cooperation.
In 2006, Mrs. Davis received a Woodrow Wilson Award in recognition of her support for peace initiatives throughout the world. In her acceptance speech, she challenged world leaders to bring about a mindset of preparing for peace instead of preparing for war. "We don't know what tomorrow holds, and therefore let us take advantage of today to be as useful as possible," she said.