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Davidson College

Davidson College
MottoAlenda Lux Ubi Orta Libertas (Latin)
Motto in English
Let Learning Be Cherished Where Liberty Has Arisen
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1837; 187 years ago (1837)
Religious affiliation
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$1.3 billion (2023)[2]
PresidentDouglas A. Hicks
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States
CampusSuburban, 665-acre (2.69 km2) main campus and a 110-acre (0.45 km2) Lake Campus
ColorsRed and black[4]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IA-10, Pioneer Football League
MascotWill E. Wildcat
(Bronze sculpture; named for William Lee Davidson, the College's namesake).
Serif capital D and C letters, interlocking, in red, above "Davidson College" in black.

Davidson College is a private liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina. It was established in 1837 by the Concord Presbytery[5] and named after Revolutionary War general William Lee Davidson, who was killed at the nearby Battle of Cowan's Ford.[5]

Davidson is a four-year undergraduate institution and enrolls 1,973 students from 50 states and territories, Washington, D.C., and 46 countries.[6] Of those students, 95 percent live on campus, 71 percent study abroad, and about 25 percent participate in 21 NCAA Division I sports.[6] The college's athletic teams, the Wildcats, compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference for all sports except football and wrestling, which compete in the Pioneer Football League and Southern Conference respectively. Davidson's 665-acre (269 ha) main campus is located in a suburban community 19 miles (30 km) north of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.[6] The college also operates a 110-acre (44.5 ha) lake campus on the shores of nearby Lake Norman.[7]

The college offers 37 majors and 39 minors in liberal arts disciplines as well as other interdisciplinary academic programs. Academic life at Davidson is governed by an honor code that allows students to take self-scheduled, unproctored final exams.[8][9] Davidson has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars,[10] and is among the top undergraduate institutions whose graduates receive Fulbright Scholarships.[11]


An institution of higher learning of The Presbyterian Church (USA),[12] Davidson College was founded in 1837 by The Concord Presbytery after purchasing 469 acres (1.90 km2) of land from William Lee Davidson II, who claimed possession of at least 25 enslaved individuals in Mecklenburg County and 65 in Alabama. Davidson II owned the Beaver Dam plantation in Davidson, North Carolina where approximately 16-26 enslaved individuals lived and labored.[13] William Lee Davidson II was the son of Revolutionary War commander Brigadier General William Lee Davidson, for whom the college is named.[14] Church records show a meeting on May 13, 1835, among subsequent meetings, by members of the Concord Presbytery making plans to purchase and perform initial construction on the land, with land payments starting Jan. 1 of the following year.[citation needed] The first students graduated from Davidson in 1840 and received diplomas with the newly created college seal designed by Peter Stuart Ney, who is believed by some to be Napoleon's Marshal Ney.[15]

Philanthropic Hall (shown) and Eumenean Hall are on the National Register of Historic Places

In the 1850s, Davidson overcame financial difficulty by instituting "The Scholarship Plan," a program that allowed Davidson hopefuls to purchase a scholarship for $100, which could be redeemed in exchange for full tuition to Davidson until the 1870s. The college's financial situation improved dramatically in 1856 with a $250,000 donation by Maxwell Chambers, making Davidson the wealthiest college south of Princeton.[citation needed] The Chambers Building was erected to commemorate this gift. Maxwell Chambers was known to have owned a large number of enslaved people.[16] On November 28, 1921, the Chambers Building was destroyed in a fire but was reconstructed eight years later with funding from the Rockefeller family.[17] The Chambers Building continues to be the primary academic building on campus.

In 1923, the Gamma chapter in North Carolina of Phi Beta Kappa was established at Davidson. Over 1500 men and 500 women have been initiated into Davidson's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.[18] In 1924, James Duke formed the Duke Endowment, which has provided millions of dollars to the college. In 1954, the president of Georgia Tech Blake R. Van Leer and Davidson's president John Rood Cunningham arranged the first-of-its-kind joint engineering program.[19]

On May 5, 1972, the trustees voted to allow women to enroll at Davidson as degree students for the first time. Women had attended classes as early as the 1860s but did not enjoy degree privileges. The first women to attend classes at Davidson were the five daughters of its president, the Rev. John Lycan Kirkpatrick. The first women were permitted to attend classes to increase the size of the student body during the American Civil War. However, art major Marianna "Missy" Woodward became the first woman to graduate from Davidson. She graduated in 1973 and was the only woman in a class of 217.[20]

In early 2005, the college's board of trustees voted in a 31–5 decision to allow 20% of the board to be non-Christian. John Belk, the former mayor of Charlotte and one of the heirs of Belk Department Store, resigned in protest after more than six decades of affiliation with the college. Belk, however, continued his strong relationship with his alma mater and was honored in March 2006 at the Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the Belk Scholarship.

In 2007, Davidson eliminated the need for students to take out loans from the college to pay for their tuition. All demonstrated need is met through grants, student employment, parental contribution, and federal student loans. The college claims to be the first liberal arts college in the United States to do this.[21]



Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report regard Davidson's admission process as "most selective".[22]

For the class of 2027 (enrolled fall 2023), Davidson received 7,363 applications and accepted 1,068 (14.5%).[23] Of those, 1,005 applied early decision and 338 were accepted.[24] The yield rate (the percentage of accepted students who enroll) was 49.3%.[25] The middle 50% range of SAT scores for enrolled students was 670–740 for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, and 690–750 for Math, while the ACT Composite range was 31–33.[26] Enrolled freshmen represent 41 states and 35 countries; 35.9% were from the American South. The college is need-blind for domestic applicants.[27]


Academic rankings
Liberal arts
U.S. News & World Report[28]15
Washington Monthly[29]23
WSJ / College Pulse[31]66

The 2021 annual ranking by U.S. News & World Report rates Davidson College as tied for the 13th best among "National Liberal Arts Colleges" in America, 2nd in "Best Undergraduate Teaching" and 18th for "Best Value".[32] For 2023, Davidson College was ranked 58th overall on Forbes ' list of "America's Top Colleges," 12th best liberal arts college, and 12th in the South.[33] In 2018, Kiplinger's Personal Finance rated Davidson College as the #1 best college for value across all colleges and universities in America.[34]

According to The Princeton Review, Davidson is ranked among the top twenty colleges nationally for the following categories: "Best Overall Academic Experience For Undergraduates," "Professors Get High Marks" (1st), "Professors Make Themselves Accessible" (16th), "Students Study the Most" (10th), "School Runs Like Butter" (4th), "Town-Gown Relations are Great" (3rd), "Easiest Campus to Get Around" (3rd), and "Best Quality of Life (16th)."[35]


Chambers Building at Davidson College

Davidson has a student-faculty ratio of 9:1, 69% of its classes are under 20 students.[3]

Davidson has 201 full-time faculty members. Almost all faculty members have terminal degrees in their field, with 97% of full-time members holding PhDs.[3]

Honor code

E. H. Little Library, Davidson College

Davidson students are bound by a strict honor code, signed by each student at the start of their Freshman year.

The Davidson College Honor Code states: "Every student shall be honor bound to refrain from cheating (including plagiarism). Every student shall be honor bound to refrain from stealing. Every student shall be honor bound to refrain from lying about College business. Every student shall be honor bound to report immediately all violations of the Honor Code of which the student has first-hand knowledge; failure to do so shall be a violation of the Honor Code. Every student found guilty of a violation shall ordinarily be dismissed from the College. Every member of the College community is expected to be familiar with the operation of the Honor Code."

As one of the most obvious manifestations of the Honor Code, Davidson students take self-scheduled, unproctored final exams. Some exams (known as "reviews" in Davidson vernacular) are take-home, timed, and closed book. Other take-home exams may be open book or untimed. Often take-home exams may take students days to complete. Every assignment submitted at Davidson includes either an implicit or (more often) explicit pledge that the student neither gave nor received assistance on the assignment beyond the bounds of the Honor Code. The Honor Code extends beyond 'reviews,' essays, or research papers. Notes around campus are commonly seen, whether on a bulletin board or taped to a brick walkway, describing an item found at the location and the finder's contact information so that the property may be recovered.[36][37]

Majors and minors

Davidson offers majors in 27 subject areas.[3] Students can also design their own major through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. In addition to the one major required for graduation, students may pursue a second major, a minor, or a concentration. Its most popular majors, by 2021 graduates, were:[38]

Econometrics & Quantitative Economics (72)
Political Science and Government (65)
Biology/Biological Sciences (61)
Psychology (44)
History (27)
Computer Science (25)
English Language and Literature (24)

Student life


Davidson competes at the NCAA Division I level in 19 sports. Of these sports, 10 are men's and 9 are women's. Approximately 24% of the Davidson on-campus student body participates in varsity sports.[39] Davidson has the fourth-smallest undergraduate enrollment of any school in Division I football, behind Presbyterian, VMI (Virginia Military Institute), and Wofford (smallest to largest).

Davidson's sports teams are known as the Wildcats. Their colors are red and black, although since 2008, many sports including football, men's basketball, and men's soccer have moved towards a brighter hue of red and white.[40][41][42][43] The Wildcats participate as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference in all sports other than football and wrestling.[44] Sports that compete in other conferences include football in Division I Football Championship Subdivision Pioneer Football League, and wrestling in the Southern Conference.

Student organizations

The main student newspaper on campus is the Davidsonian, which is published weekly. The Davidsonian was founded in 1914 and has published a volume every year since then.[45] In 2007, Davidson's Library completed a project to digitally archive all past issues of the Davidsonian.[46]

Alvarez College Union, Davidson College

Davidson offers over 150 student organizations on campus, including arts & culture organizations, performance groups, sports groups, political organizations, gender and sexuality groups, religious organizations, and social action groups. The Student Activities Office encourages and is available for students wishing to develop an organization not yet established at Davidson.[47]

Most student events are sponsored by the Union Board, the student organization in charge of the student union. Union Board hosts Fall Fling and Spring Frolics, as well as popular student events like weekly trivia, Live Thursdays, and After Midnights.

Greek life and eating houses

The fraternity and eating house system at Davidson is known as Patterson Court and is governed by the Patterson Court Council. Sigma Phi Epsilon, Phi Gamma Delta, Connor House, Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Warner Hall House, Kappa Sigma, Black Student Coalition, Organization for Latin American Students x Pan Asian Student Association, Rusk House, and Turner House all currently occupy houses on Patterson Court.

Additionally, Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Lambda Pi Chi, and Lambda Theta Phi maintain a presence on campus. The NPHC sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha was the first sorority of Davidson College's social community, receiving its charter in the Fall of 2008. The Multicultural Greek Council is the newest council to Davidson's Patterson Court, having been established with two Latino-interest organizations, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi sorority and Lambda Theta Phi fraternity in the spring of 2019.[48]

In total, there are nine national fraternities, four local women's eating houses, and three sororities on campus. Approximately 80% of the female students and 40% of male students belong to a fraternity or an eating house.[49]

College Farm

The Farm at Davidson College supplies local, organic produce to students through the college's Dining Services operation. The farm is a stand-alone, business-based unit of the college.


Davidson College offers five on-campus dining locations, including Vail Commons, Davis Café, The Wildcat Den, Commons Market and a Qdoba. There is also an on-campus Summit Coffee shop known as Summit Outpost.

Royal Shakespeare Company residencies

In 2002, the Royal Shakespeare Company performed William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice in residency at Davidson College, the RSC's second residency at a US college or university. The performance inaugurated the Duke Family Performance Hall.[50] In March 2005, the RSC returned to Davidson and was in residency for most of the month, performing The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, as well as numerous educational activities, many of which were open to the general public. In February 2006, their artists directed scenes from Shakespeare's plays and other theatrical materials inspired by Shakespeare, entitled For Every Passion, Something, with Davidson students as actors. The productions Infinite Variety and For Every Passion Something were presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland. In February 2007, the Royal Shakespeare Company performed Shakespeare's Pericles and The Winter's Tale, as well as Roy Williams's Days of Significance, in the Duke Family Performance Hall.[51] In 2008, the RSC conducted educational programs, similar to those they presented in 2006.[52] Also during this residency, playwright Rona Munro developed a new play, Little Eagles.

Financial aid

In 2007, Davidson College announced that all students would have their demonstrated financial need met by grants and student employment; loans would no longer be a component of any Davidson financial aid package.[53] The Duke Endowment pledged $15,000,000 to support the initiative and it was named The Davidson Trust.[21]

In addition to not including loans in their financial aid packages, Davidson's 2014 capital campaign adding 156 new scholarships funded with $88 million.[54] Davidson states that they are committed to providing 100% of demonstrated need of all students, which is calculated by the federal FAFSA program, with 44% of students receiving need-based aid and over 50% receiving some form of financial aid.[54]

Notable alumni

Davidson has many notable graduates, particularly in politics, athletics, and the arts. These include:

See also


  1. ^ member center. "NAICU - Member Directory". Archived from the original on 2015-11-09. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  2. ^ As of December 20, 2023. "Davidson Endowment". Davidson College. 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Fast Facts". Davidson College. Archived from the original on December 12, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  4. ^ "Brand Guide". Archived from the original on April 8, 2022. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "History and Statement of Purpose - Davidson College - Acalog ACMS™". Archived from the original on 2014-03-08. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  6. ^ a b c Davidson, Davidson College The Davidson College wordmark; USA894-2000, North Carolina 28035. "Fast Facts". Davidson. Archived from the original on 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-04-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Davidson, Davidson College The Davidson College wordmark; USA894-2000, North Carolina 28035. "Lake Campus". Davidson. Archived from the original on 2022-04-07. Retrieved 2022-04-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Davidson, Davidson College The Davidson College wordmark; USA894-2000, North Carolina 28035. "Honor Code". Davidson. Archived from the original on 2022-02-24. Retrieved 2022-04-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Majors, Minors and Programs | Davidson". Archived from the original on 2022-04-07. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  10. ^ "U.S. Rhodes Scholarships, Number of Winners by Institution" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 5, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  11. ^ "Top Producing Institutions By Year". Archived from the original on 2022-04-01. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  12. ^ "Davidson College History & Traditions". Archived from the original on 27 April 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  13. ^ Maxime Lamoureux-St-Hilaire, “Historical and Community Archaeology: the Enslaved of Beaver Dam Research Report of the Preliminary Season,” Davidson College, published August 2021, 1.; “Commission on Race and Slavery,” Davidson College, accessed October 10, 2023, .
  14. ^ "Welcome to the Davidson Historical Society". Davidson Historical Society. Archived from the original on February 14, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  15. ^ "Peter Stuart Ney". Davidson Encyclopedia. Davidson College. Archived from the original on December 26, 2015. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  16. ^ Hilary Green, Maxwell Chambers and His Complicated Connections to Davidson College (Davidson College, 2023).
  17. ^ "Davidson College Timeline". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
  18. ^ "Davidson College". Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  19. ^ Archived 2022-01-04 at the Wayback Machine [bare URL PDF]
  20. ^ "Coeducation". Archived from the original on 2006-09-09. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
  21. ^ a b "Duke Endowment Gift Will Help Davidson Students Avoid Student Loan Debt". Archived from the original on 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2014-09-19.
  22. ^ "Davidson College | Best College | US News". Archived from the original on 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  23. ^ Davidson, Davidson College The Davidson College wordmark; USA894-2000, North Carolina 28035. "Class of 2026 Profile". Davidson. Archived from the original on 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-06-01.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  24. ^ Davidson, Davidson College The Davidson College wordmark; USA894-2000, North Carolina 28035. "Class of 2025 Profile". Davidson. Archived from the original on 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-06-01.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ "Class of 2025 Profile". Davidson. Archived from the original on 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-06-01.
  26. ^ Davidson, Davidson College The Davidson College wordmark; USA894-2000, North Carolina 28035. "Class of 2025 Profile". Davidson. Archived from the original on 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-06-01.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ "Apply". Davidson College. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  28. ^ "Best Colleges 2024: National Liberal Arts Colleges". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
  29. ^ "2023 Liberal Arts Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  30. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  31. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  32. ^ "Davidson College Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. 2020. Archived from the original on 2018-12-13. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  33. ^ "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. September 8, 2023. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  34. ^ "Kiplinger's Best College Values". Archived from the original on 2017-07-14. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  35. ^ "Davidson College". Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  36. ^ "Academics". Archived from the original on 2009-12-21. Retrieved 2014-09-19.
  37. ^ "Traditions". Archived from the original on 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2014-09-19.
  38. ^ "Davidson College". U.S. Dept of Education. Retrieved February 4, 2023.
  39. ^ "Davidson Athletics". Archived from the original on 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2006-09-23.
  40. ^ "Photographic image". Archived from the original (JPG) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  41. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  42. ^ "2009 Georgia Southern". Archived from the original on 2014-07-19. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  43. ^ "Davidson College - Davidson Football Falls To Marist In Season Finale, 14-6". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  44. ^ "Davidson College - Davidson College to Join Atlantic 10 Conference". 2014-07-01. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  45. ^ "The Davidsonian". Archived from the original on 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2006-09-23.
  46. ^ "The Davidsonian Digitized". Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  47. ^ "Student Activities - Davidson College". Archived from the original on 2016-04-26. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  48. ^ ""Poetry in Motion": Associate Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. Presents Founding Line". The Davidsonian. 2019-03-27. Archived from the original on 2019-04-23. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  49. ^ "Davidson College - Patterson Court". Archived from the original on 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2006-09-23.
  50. ^ "The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)". Archived from the original on 2 November 2008. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  51. ^ "Davidson College – 2008 RSC Residency". Archived from the original on 13 August 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  52. ^ "College News & Events". Archived from the original on 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2007-05-26.
  53. ^ E-mail from Bobby Vagt to all Davidson College students, 19 March 2007
  54. ^ a b "Davidson College – A Word on Affordability". Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  55. ^ "Davidson's Stephen Curry will enter NBA Draft". The Staten Island Advance. AP. April 23, 2009. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  56. ^ Davidson College [@DavidsonCollege] (May 15, 2022). "Congratulations @StephenCurry30! #itsagreatdaytobeawildcat @DavidsonMBB" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  57. ^ Chiari, Mike (May 15, 2022). "Warriors' Stephen Curry Earns Bachelor of Arts Degree from Davidson College". Bleacher Report. Archived from the original on May 15, 2022. Retrieved May 15, 2022.
  58. ^ Whitney, Craig R. (September 26, 1976). "German Professor Campaigns in Ruhr". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2018-11-11. Retrieved 2018-05-19.

35°30′00″N 80°50′43″W / 35.499990°N 80.845296°W / 35.499990; -80.845296

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Davidson College
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