By: Danielle Strickland
Richard (“Rick”) Halton ’77 and his husband Jean-Marc Frailong will leave $25 million to Davidson College in their estate — the largest planned gift commitment to date in college history.
“The cure for cancer, the cure for AIDS, the next Facebook — these could very well come from Davidson,” Halton said. “I want our gift to help students take advantage of all the resources offered by the college and make the experience more affordable for them.”
While Halton has not yet decided which areas of campus this gift will support, he is excited by the direct impact of scholarships as well as Lula Bell’s Resource Center, which provides students with food, professional clothing, textbooks, hygiene products and more. Additionally, he is inspired by innovation-related developments under the direction of President Carol E. Quillen, including the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“When President Quillen is ready to do something, she doesn’t waste time,” he said. “Under her leadership, Davidson has added premier facilities for students. The approach to education has been reshaped to meet the needs of students today. And the college seeks out students who will do well and contribute to campus without considering race, national origin or sex — it’s a phenomenal enhancement to campus. Campus today more accurately reflects the American population.”
Halton counts many classmates among his most cherished friendships. “I remain closely connected with at least 30 to 40 classmates thanks to social media,” he said. “And I would say some of them are my closest friends. These are people who would drop anything if I said I needed them. The friendships are the key thing I took away from Davidson, in addition to an education that taught me to think independently and successfully prepared me for a legal education.”
Halton enrolled at Davidson as a transfer student after graduating from prep school at age 16 and completing a few courses at a local Chicago college. He chose Davidson after applying to, and being accepted by, a number of top institutions — he was drawn to the personal attention from faculty and the tight-knit community.
At that time, the annual cost was $5,000, and his parents were able to provide whatever he needed to succeed. A number of his friends were in a similar situation, but he remembers some friends who struggled to make ends meet.
Today, higher education looks a lot different.
“The cost of college is a burden for many families,” he said. “I want this gift to help support students so they don’t have to worry as much. They should focus on growing up as young adults and absorbing all the wonderful opportunities available at Davidson.”
“Richard and Jean-Marc are making an extraordinary commitment to Davidson that will transform the lives of countless students as it inspires us to an unsurpassed education for leadership and service, now and into the future,” said President Quillen. “Because of their generosity, generations of young people will experience all that Davidson can offer and, as graduates, lead impactful lives in service to our world. We’re grateful beyond words or measure and excited for the future that this gift enables.”
Halton hopes other alumni will consider their own impact on Davidson students and the college’s future.
“I think a lot of people make the wrong assumption about how Davidson is funded, thinking it comes from federal or state support,” he said. “It is up to private individuals who have been blessed in life to give back. I hope my classmates and all alumni will consider supporting Davidson as they think about estate planning. If you have been successful, you should do something for Davidson because it is a special place, graduating the future leaders of our world.”