It had to be the ride of a lifetime: Davidson College President Carol Quillen flew to another DC – Washington, DC – on board Air Force One Wednesday to participate in a White House meeting Thursday hosted by President Barack Obama on expanding college opportunity for low-income students.
Quillen was among dozens of college and university presidents and business and nonprofit leaders invited to the summit, which included First Lady Michelle Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Also on the flight from Raleigh to the capital were North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt.
The president was in Raleigh Wednesday to announce a $140 million advanced semiconductor manufacturing center at N.C. State.
The White House conference Thursday was scheduled to include a series of panels featuring White House officials in education and economic policy.
In a statement Thursday morning, Quillen welcomed the opportunity and talked about the college’s efforts to help more students from underprivileged backgrounds attend college.
“Davidson is privileged to take part in this incredible event, and we applaud the leadership and ingenuity of President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and our partners — the John M. Belk Endowment, the College Advising Corps (CAC), and The Posse Foundation—in facilitating this opportunity to develop innovative, new educational programs for our nation’s neediest students,” Quillen said.
“In a democratic society, your access to education cannot be determined by your parent’s income. Equal opportunity must be more than two words we say – it must be real – and through these new programs we will enable more talented and deserving students the opportunity to succeed in college and life,” she added.
With a $10 million gift from the Belk Endowment, Davidson and other N.C. colleges will send 60 recent graduates to work as full-time college advisers in underserved rural North Carolina high schools. As many as 20 Davidson graduates will join the initiative, which aims to increase access to college for more than 18,000 rural North Carolina high school students.
The endowment was created in 1995 by the late Davidson alumnus John Belk. It funds the Belk Scholars national merit scholarship program at Davidson and has been expanded to focus on “empowering the 21st century workforce by increasing access to college for low-income and other underrepresented students,” according to the college. Beginning this year, the endowment will award more than $13 million annually to North Carolina organizations aligned with its mission. That has included a grant to the the College Advising Corps.