Founders donate $21 million to King Scholar Leadership Program

by Erin Lee | 5/25/15 7:51pm

Founders Bob King ’57 and Dottie King donated $21 million to the King Scholar Leadership Program, which will be used to expand the program to include more students and fund additional internships. The Kings’ gift will raise their total investment in the scholarship program to $35 million.

Program advisor and Tucker Foundation program officer for school outreach Jay Davis said the program works to alleviate global poverty by preparing students from developing nations to return to their countries “to make a difference.” The program, founded by the Kings in 2013, supports students and helps them take advantage of Dartmouth’s resources, he said.

Dottie King said they started the program because they wanted to make the world a better place and help facilitate an exchange of cultures at Dartmouth.

Bob King said the program is meant to develop future international leaders who can tackle substantial issues, particularly global poverty.

“There are a billion people who live on around one dollar and some change a day, and we want to correct it,” he said.

Since their initial investment in 2013, conversations between the Kings, College President Phil Hanlon, dean of admissions Maria Laskaris and others, convinced the Kings that expanding the program would be beneficial, Bob King said.

“We were very encouraged with their interest in making the program real and making it effective,” Bob King said.

Currently, there are six King Scholars enrolled at the College — Loveridge Bere ’18, Eric Iradukunda ’17, Cherrie Kandie ’18, Faith Rotich ’18, Marc Sepama ’17 and Theo Wilson ’17. The additional investment will eventually support a total of 24 scholars, Bob King said.

“The idea of investing in people is central to what we do and who we are,” Bob King said.

Next fall, four scholars will be admitted and six will be admitted each year after that, Davis said.

The new donation will also fund internships for the scholars during their undergraduate careers in areas of interest ranging from business to education to governance, Bob King said.

Davis said that during the winter interim period, the students will also travel as a group to Washington, D.C., and New York City for leadership seminar experiences, where they will participate in workshops with mentors and bond with their fellow scholars.

The additional donation will include advising to help scholars utilize existing resources and programs at the College, Davis said. These include the Great Issues Scholars program, alternative spring breaks and the Young African Leaders Initiative — President Barack Obama’s program initiative to help foster international cooperation.

Dottie King said they are interested in making Dartmouth a more global institution that fosters teamwork and leadership.

“We hope to empower other people to understand that the world is shrinking and we need to improve its condition,” she said.

Sepama, of Burkina Faso, said the program helped him learn more about society in general. He said he is currently considering majoring in economics and is involved with programming through the Tucker Foundation and Great Issues Scholars.

“What I learn here would directly enable me to apply skills back home,” he said.

Senior associate director of admissions Becky Sabky, who handles King Scholar admissions, said that all students applying to the College from developing countries automatically enter into consideration for the program. She said that when admissions officers choose scholars, they look for students who are intellectually curious, possess the necessary academic qualifications and are interested in helping their home country after graduation.

“We’re really looking for characteristics that Bob and Dottie King have set out for the program — students who are engaged with their communities, wherever they may be,” she said.

Sepama said he has appreciated the opportunity to have a personal connection with the Kings. The King Scholars went to the King family home for Thanksgiving this past fall and got to know each other well, he said.

Davis said the Kings have made a substantial effort to be available to students and to check in on them regularly. He added that they call and text the students often, “very much like grandparents.”

“What [the Kings] have is an amazing ability to see the forest while caring deeply about the trees,” Davis said.