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Davidson College Picks Quillen As Its 18th President

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Davidson College announced Thursday that Rice University historian and administrator Carol E. Quillen has been appointed as its 18th president. Dr. Quillen, 51, is currently Associate Professor of History and Vice President for International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives at Rice University, in Houston. She also served as Rice's vice provost for academic affairs. See Davidson College's official announcement. Read more about Dr. Quillen on the Rice website. In brief remarks after the 2:45 p.m., announcement she talked about her appointment as the first woman, and the first non-Davidson graduate appointed president since John Cunningham (1941-57). "I come to you from outside the Davidson family, and I know I have much to learn," Dr. Quillen said. A Presbyterian who grew up in New Castle, Del., and attended Quaker schools, she was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, where she earned a bachelor's degree in history. She received her PhD in European history from Princeton University. She starts Aug. 1. She said she hopes to spend July traveling and meeting people in the "extended Davidson family." She said she had decided to enter administration while at Rice because it would be rewarding to "build programs that would outlast me." "Davidson is an extraordinary place. I wasn't looking for a different job. I actually just started the current job I hold and it's unfinished," she said. She said in an interview after the announcement that she was drawn by the opportunity to help reshape Davidson. She came to realize that Davidson was a place where she "could make a contribution to what I think is an incredibly important task, that is to say re-imagining liberal arts education for a century where the world is much more interconnected and rapidly changing." Mackey McDonald, the chair of Davidson's Board of Trustees, said in a statement: "The Davidson search committee was a microcosm of the Davidson family - trustees, students, faculty and staff with a broad range of interests, experiences and backgrounds. Even with the great diversity on the committee, there was a deep, shared commitment to Davidson - and an absolute agreement about our new president. Carol Quillen understands all facets of the academic enterprise." "A brilliant administrator and a talented teacher and scholar, she can articulate not only the value, but also the necessity of a liberal arts education. Her values are Davidson's values. She inspired us," Mr. McDonald said, "and we could not be more enthusiastic about welcoming her to Davidson." REPLACING ROSS She fills the vacancy created in December when Tom Ross left to become president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system. Former Davidson College president John Kuykendall has been Davidson's interim president since President Ross stepped down Dec. 10. President Ross announced his departure last August. The college appointed a search committee, led by Kristin Hills Bradberry, that began meeting in October. The committee hired executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel of Pennsylvania and California to aid the search. As a search committee and the consultants began recruiting, they faced questions about what kind of candidates should qualify for the job. The college's by-laws require a person "who is a loyal and active church member, whose life provides evidence of strong Christian faith and commitment. Such faith and commitment will be appropriately expressed by affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and active participation in the life of Davidson College Presbyterian Church." In a Dec. 7 statement, Davidson trustees chair Mackey McDonald acknowledged concerns about the policy, saying the issue had come up "in almost every meeting" with faculty, alumni, parents, and other constituents over the past few months. He said the college would discuss the question, which he said involves "complex issues and a range of opinions" - though not until after a new president was hired. Dr. Kuykendall, a 1959 Davidson grad, was president from 1984 to 1997. RELATED LINKS May 26, 2011, Davidson College news office announcement, with links to video and audio from the announcement. May 15, 2011, "Ross tells Davidson grads:'Do well, and do good'"- Former president Ross returned for graduation of the Class of 2011. Dec. 22, 2010, "Kuykendall back in president's office at Davidson." Davidson College presidential search web page. Dec. 7, 2010, Trustees Chair Mackey McDonald's statement about the presidential search and bylaws. Dec. 7, 2010, search committee chair Kristin Bradberry's statement on hiring of an executive search firm. Oct. 21, 2010, "College names presidential search committee"