Davidson was founded in 1837 by the Concord Presbyterians who purchased land for the school from William Lee Davidson II, the son of a local Revolutionary War hero. In the 1850s, Davidson instituted “The Scholarship Plan,” a program that allowed students who wanted to attend Davidson to purchase a scholarship for $100, which could be used for full tuition until the 1870s. In 1924, James Duke created the Duke Endowment which provided millions of dollars to the college, including a pledge of $15 million to help assist with the elimination of student loans.
In 1973, women were finally allowed to enroll at Davidson as degree students after 100 years of being able to attend without degree privileges. In 2005 the college's board of trustees voted in a 31-5 decision to allow 20% of the board to be non-Christian. Today, Davidson is ranked among America’s strongest and most selective liberal arts colleges and is a national leader in affordability initiatives.
Davidson’s main campus consists of about 450 acres in the college town of Davidson, NC. At the center of campus is Chambers Building, the primary classroom building and academic center of campus for most non-arts and non-science majors. Chambers includes several administrative offices as well. The western end of campus contains the majority of housing for Davidson students, which include both residence halls and Greek life housing.
Directly north of campus is the newly renovated Richardson Stadium, which can seat up to 6,000 fans. The Doe Weight Room is also located here. Directly south of campus is the Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Arts Center, a 43,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility home to the Art History and Studio Arts programs. Heading east of campus, students will find the Davidson College Presbyterian Church Congregation House, which seats up to 1,200 people.
The town of Davidson is centered on the school, and both take their name from Brigadier General William Lee Davdison, a Revolutionary War figure. Davidson’s population is just over 7,100 and lies along the eastern shore of Lake Norman, the largest manmade body of fresh water in North Carolina. Famous residents of Davidson include several NASCAR drivers including Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, Todd Bodine, and Denny Hamlin.
Although the town of Davidson is small, it is located between Huntersville and Mooresville. These slightly bigger cities have all kinds of stores, restaurants, and much more for students to visit. Davidson is also only about a twenty-minute drive to Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, where there are also plenty of things for students to do.
During exam week, students open windows or go outside in order to scream and get all of their frustration out at midnight. Screams can be heard across campus.
At every home basketball game, students gather in two different sections next to the cheerleaders to help energize the crowd. One section is behind the away team’s bench and is known as “D-block.” It mostly consists of members of the fraternity Phi Delta Theta. The other rowdy section is behind the cheerleaders and next to the pep-band. It is known as the “Cat Pack” and mostly consists of members from the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.
During the first week back to school for the second semester, freshmen girls sign up for which Eating House they want to be placed in. On Thursday nights, the upperclassmen in each Eating House run around the freshmen dorms, waking up the freshmen girls that got into their respective houses. The girls will party until classes start that Friday morning. Later that Friday night, the girls gather at their houses, and the freshmen boys in fraternities run from Eating House to Eating House. The two nights are collectively called “Self-Selection,” and it gets pretty messy but is a lot of fun!
Every year, freshmen have the option of participating in a 1.7-mile cake race, which was originally used by a track coach to uncover hidden running talent in each incoming class. Today, the race is optional but the prize remains the same: a slice of cake donated by members of the Davidson community.
John Chidsey (1983) is the CEO of Burger King
Patricia Cornwell (1979) is an American crime writer.
Wyche Fowler: The former Georgia U.S. senator attended but left to enter the army.
Elizabeth Kiss (1983) was the first female Rhodes Scholar and current president of Agnes Scott College.
Dean Rusk (1931) was secretary of state under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Tony Snow (1977) was a White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush.
Woodrow Wilson attended Davidson for one year.
The Davidson Wildcats compete in Division I of the NCAA in 21 different sports and almost one in every four students at Davidson participates in a varsity sport. In 2008, the men’s basketball team had a considerable amount of success after reaching the Elite Eight in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Of course, basketball is the “favorite” team, especially after this season. Varsity sports consist of baseball, cross country, football, golf, swimming and diving, track and field, volleyball, wrestling, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and tennis. Other popular non-varsity teams include DUFF (Davidson Ultimate Frisbee), dance team, cheerleading, and Shades of Brown (step team). There are also a variety of club and intramural sports such as softball, croquet, and fencing.
Davidson is one of the smallest Division I schools for men’s basketball, and it is definitely the sport with the most spectators at school. The team is also a member of the Southern Conference. Traditionally, only the winner of the Southern Conference Tournament gets a bid into the NCAA Tournament. Davidson has won the tournament for the past three years. This past year, Davidson advanced to the Elite Eight. In the conference, competition includes UNC Greensboro, College of Charleston, and Appalachian State University.
Davidson’s football team is in the Division I Championship Sub-Division (formerly known as Double A) Pioneer Football League. One of Davidson’s competitive conference rivals is San Diego. Davidson often plays Lenoir-Rhyne for a good game even though they are out-of-conference.
Davidson was the first liberal arts college to eliminate loans in financial aid packages.
Over 70 percent of graduates have studied abroad.
Laundry service is provided for all students who live on campus.
At Davidson, about 95 percent of students live on campus in the eleven traditional residence halls or six apartment-style buildings.
The majority of students live on campus all four years at Davidson College. Although a lot of juniors go abroad for one semester, they then return to campus. The Myers-Briggs test that is given to rising freshmen in order to match them with a roommate works really well too. Most students room with their freshman roommate for at least one other year. Senior apartments are probably the most coveted housing arrangements for upperclassmen.
As an alum explains:
"We are a close-knit family here at Davidson. It never takes more than ten minutes to walk from one place on campus to another. Even most off-campus housing is just over ten minutes away from anything. I live in the sophomore ‘apartments’ this year. I put the word apartment in quotes because it is nothing like living in an apartment. Our one bedroom (for me and my roommate) is actually smaller than all of the freshman dorm rooms. Also unlike the freshman rooms, our room does not have a sink.
The best part about living in the sophomore apartments is living across the street from Patterson court. The “court” is the horseshoe-shaped row of fraternity and eating houses. Instead of sorority houses, Davidson has eating houses for girls. Instead of rush, we use a lottery where “clusters” of four girls place their order of houses they prefer and usually end up in the first choice."