December 12, 2013

A $10 million bequest from the late Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’31 GSAS, ’97 HON will support international graduate students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). The donation will provide significant fellowship funding to students at SIPA and GSAS each year beginning in 2014-15.

Kathryn W. Davis was “a visionary philanthropist,” said Dean Merit E. Janow of SIPA in announcing the gift. “In giving tens of millions of dollars to institutions and programs including the Davis United World College Scholars Program, Davis Projects for Peace, Columbia University, and many others, [Davis] sought always to deepen understanding of global challenges, a cause to which she and her husband dedicated their lives.

“To now support students who will find solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow is both public-spirited and farsighted, and I know Dean Carlos J. Alonso of GSAS shares my deep gratitude.”

The young Kathryn Wasserman earned a BA at Wellesley, an MA at Columbia, and, at a time when few women did so, a doctorate in political science from the University of Geneva. Russia long held special interest for her, inspiring her book, The Soviets at Geneva: The U.S.S.R. and the League of Nations, 1919-1933. Having traveled extensively with her family as a young woman, she remained an inveterate globetrotter after her marriage to the late Shelby Cullom Davis ’31 GSAS, an investment banker, philanthropist, and former ambassador who died in 1994.

Davis’s remarkable record of philanthropy included extensive support for environmental charities and humanitarian projects worldwide in addition to higher education.

The recent bequest builds on a previous gift to Columbia from Mr. and Ms. Davis, who in 1991 established a chair in the practice of international diplomacy at SIPA and a chair in economics and international affairs at GSAS. Stephen Sestanovich is the current Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor for the Practice of International Diplomacy, while Donald Davis is Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Economics and International Affairs.

Under the terms of the gift, funds will be divided among at least 15 full-time students from Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, China, and Taiwan. Recipients will be chosen by a committee of six faculty members in consultation with the Davis Foundation.