It's late morning and students in the front row of Kenneth Rodman's
class on international relations lean forward in their seats as
Rodman, the William R. Cotter Distinguished Teaching Professor of
Government, lectures about a troubling question: who wins and who
loses in an increasingly globalized economy? From their rapt expressions,
you might think these students in Waterville had a stake in the
fate of developing nations
The class includes Igor Gnyp '04 from the Ukraine and Andras Rozmer
'05 of Hungary. Megha Kapoor '05 is from Indonesia. Justinas Pelenis
'05 is from Lithuania and Emma James '05 from New Zealand via India.
It's a world of experience, and the class knows it. So when Karin
Shankar '05, a student from India, explains that developing countries
that step up export of raw materials may actually punish themselves
by depressing the prices they get for their product, everybody listens.
They know Shankar's interest is more than academic.
More and more this is the scene at Colby, primarily due to an aggressive
recruitment effort. It's also a consequence of an unusual alliance
among the College, the United World Colleges (UWC)--a private college
preparatory program open to students from all over the world--and
a generous donor who has put up millions of dollars to support students
at both institutions.
Shelby Davis, founder of a $30-billion mutual fund and money management
firm, is a $55-million backer of UWC, this international college
preparatory school with 2,000 students from 140 countries on 10
campuses around the world. In 1998 Davis donated $45 million to
UWC to fund 100 scholarships for American students. Two years ago
Davis and his family, including Andrew Davis '85, a Colby trustee,
added a commitment to underwrite up to the full cost of a
four-year college education for any graduate of the UWC program
admitted to one of five American universities and colleges--Colby,
Middlebury and Wellesley colleges, College of the Atlantic, and
Princeton University. In the wake of terrorist attacks on September
11, 2001, Davis also pledged $5 million in matching contributions
for general support of United World College, and his funding of
college-level scholarships for UWC graduates grew substantially
as that program entered its third year.
Colby's ongoing efforts to "bring the world" to campus made it
a natural partner for UWC, and Colby's international student population
has boomed, the numbers doubling in the past four years, largely
because of the Davis-UWC scholarship program.
What Shelby Davis has done is to create a private-sector Fulbright
program for kids from all over the world," said Philip Geier, president
of the UWC-USA in New Mexico. Geier says that since many
UWC graduates come from families with extremely limited incomes,
they wouldn't be able to attend UWC in the first place, much less
go on to college in the United States, without scholarship support.
(International students are not eligible for most financial aid
programs at U.S. colleges and universities.)
The Davis financial commitment ought to be a model for other philanthropists
and the universities and colleges they support, Geier says. "Shelby
Davis wanted to establish these programs, but he also wanted to
challenge schools to realize that it's in their own strategic interest
to transform themselves. As they've seen at Colby, you can leverage
quite a bit of change over a short period of time by bringing these
enormously qualified students to small and medium-sized colleges."
After three years in the program there are 67 Davis-UWC scholars
at Colby including 29 who started classes this fall. The increasingly
international mix has clear benefits for the international students--and
their American classmates.