Gift Provides $10 Million Endowment for Financial Aid at SIPA and GSAS

If you haven’t been following SIPA News on our website, you may have missed the announcement about the gift we just received from Kathryn W. Davis that will financially support a few SIPA and GSAS students each year.  This is especially great news for incoming international students who would benefit from these scholarships.

The late Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’31 GSAS, ’97 HON, a visionary philanthropist made a bequest of $10 million to support international graduate students at Columbia. This generous donation will provide significant fellowship funding to students at SIPA and GSAS each year beginning in 2014-15.

Ms. Davis, who died earlier this year, had a long and remarkable record of philanthropy that included extensive support not only for higher education but for environmental charities and humanitarian projects worldwide.

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 a dedicated globetrotter after her marriage to the late Shelby Cullom Davis ’31 GSAS, an investment banker, philanthropist, and former ambassador who died in 1994.

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, Ms. Davis sought 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.

The endowment gift builds on a previous gift from Mr. and Ms. Davis, who in 1991 established one academic chair at GSAS and another at SIPA, where Stephen Sestanovich is the current Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor for the Practice of International Diplomacy. Their largesse strengthens the connection between GSAS, where they both studied, and SIPA.

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

Building financial aid resources for our students is a top priority for SIPA, and we are extremely fortunate to have supporters like Kathryn W. Davis who help ensure the School’s continued excellence. SIPA will long be grateful for her generosity.