Couple donate $10 million to Davidson College

The chairman of Davidson College’s Board of Trustees and his wife have donated $10 million toward a new academic building, scholarships and an on-campus leadership development center that opened in 2007 with a previous gift from the couple, the college announced Tuesday.

John and Lisa Chidsey graduated from Davidson College in 1983 and live in Coral Gables, Fla. John Chidsey is the former executive chairman and CEO of Burger King Corp. and is now the executive chairman of Red Book Connect. He is on the boards of HealthSouth and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

“Lisa and I chose to make this gift now because we believe in the vision of the college, the leadership of President Carol Quillen, and the compelling case Carol and Davidson College make for why the liberal arts matter now more than ever,” John Chidsey said in a statement announcing the gift.

The new building will be the first phase of the college’s previously announced 10-year plan to build, expand or renovate six buildings to create an “academic neighborhood” with flexible spaces and common areas.

The neighborhood initiative received a $45 million gift from the Duke Endowment in 2012. With the couple’s gift, the total amount raised for the $74 million first-phase building surpasses $60 million, the college announced Tuesday.

Besides scholarships for outstanding Davidson students, the couple’s $10 million gift also will benefit student leadership initiatives through the Chidsey Center for Leadership and Development. The center offers the Chidsey Leadership Lecture Series, student retreats and customized workshops.

“I never would have accomplished a tenth of what I have without Davidson,” John Chidsey said. “It was a transformative place for me. Making sure as many people as possible have the opportunity to attend a place like Davidson is important to us.”

Quillen said the couple’s gift “will enable Davidson to demonstrate the power of our liberal arts experience for students who want to lead in today’s world.”