By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — A diverse group of international students and faculty celebrated at a presentation recognizing the University of Oklahoma as a Davis Cup recipient Thursday after beating out Brown University for the award, which only had 33 United World College Scholars this year.
The University of Oklahoma is the first public university in the nation to be awarded the prestigious Davis Cup in recognition of its record-setting enrollment of UWC international freshmen. With 45 Davis UWC Scholars at OU, this is the largest class ever enrolled at a Davis UWC Scholars Program partner institution.
Craig Hayes, UWC Scholars program coordinator, said the first Davis UWC scholars enrolled at OU in 2008. The original number of four UWC students has grown to a total of 89. who represent 43 countries and all 12 of the UWC campuses worldwide.
OU is one of 91 Davis program partner colleges and universities in the United States, including Yale, Princeton, Brown, the universities of North Carolina, Virginia and Michigan, Duke, Columbia and MIT.
UWCs are two-year residential schools in which a rigorous international baccalaureate curriculum is employed with all-English instruction. To date, more than 40,000 students have studied at UWCs.
“All UWCs’ students are united in their commitment to positive social action to build a more equitable and fairer world,” Hayes said.
Joan Ezeogu, from Swaziland who plans to graduate from OU this May with a double major in international studies and economics, said being a part of the UWC program and attending OU had been great experiences.
“It’s a very big deal to me and my family because I will be the first one to go to college outside of Africa,” Ezeogu said.
Eaton Baptiste, UWC student president at OU, spoke about his experience at a UWC in Costa Rica and what the UWC means to scholars like himself. Baptiste said throughout his studies, his ideas were constantly challenged and he learned a lot about himself and what he was capable of.
“An outstanding amount of growth happens during those two years at UWC and at OU,” he said.
Dr. Phil Geier, executive director of the Davis UWC Scholars Program, said in the last 15 years, you could not find an educational leader who would not say the most important thing for students is to be globally sensitive, culturally engaged and linguistically skilled and that the UWC Scholars Program maximizes this potential in each student.
“It’s been a privilege for me to have a hand, a very small hand, in bringing the footprint of globalization into the daily lives of all of you (UWC Scholars) and into the daily lives of all the students here at OU,” Geier said.
Shelby Davis, founder of the Davis United World College Scholars Program, presented the Davis Cup to OU President David L. Boren. Davis donated more than $4 million in funds for UWC scholars at OU.
Davis said he believes his donations help invest in the leaders of the future.
“I grew up with parents who were internationalists ... my father was a realist and preferred to be called a doer. My mother was an idealist, but she wouldn’t mind being called a dreamer,” he said, adding that he came from a family of “dreamers that do.”
Davis said he continues to invest in the UWC Scholars Program because of his upbringing.
“In my family, we had a road map for life of sorts. The first 30 years are for learning. The next 30 years are for earning. And the last 30 years are for returning.”
Davis said UWC students are change makers and quoted a UWC student who said that a change maker is someone who “helps make the difference between what the world is and what the world deserves to be.”
Boren said receiving the Davis Cup was a special moment that stands out in his mind after 20 years at OU and that the award meant more to him than Heisman trophies, Sugar Bowls and large numbers of National Merit scholars because the Davis Cup represents future possibilities for the world through the enriching discussions and challenges UWC students bring forth during and after their studies.
“Today, vision and generosity have come together for a common cause to work together in partnerships for a brighter future,” Boren said.
At the end of the presentation, Boren officially inducted Davis into the Seed Sower Society for his generous donations to the university.
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