Skip to content
MIT Better World

By Christine Thielman

But that common undergraduate experience made their decision to establish the Tom and Betsy Davis Scholarship Fund a natural one. Tom and Betsy’s support has already helped two students attend MIT, and thoughtful planning has ensured that the fund will outlive them and support many more.

Supporting students

“We knew we would need to pay for our children’s college education, but realized we could help get more young people through school financially,” says Tom. “Were we to pass away before our scholarship was completely funded, a bequest would bump up the total principal in the fund to complete it.”

With their two children now in college, why fund scholarships for young people they don’t know? “We both benefited from the generosity of others,” says Tom. “Betsy had scholarships from MIT, and I had scholarships from other entities. Our undergraduate years were incredibly formative. To help others have that experience means a lot to us.”

Celebrating the MIT experience

Today, Betsy is associate director of facilities at Phillips Academy Andover, while Tom focuses on data-intensive work in supply chain management for a Palo Alto consulting firm. Both have happy memories of their time at MIT. “There were moments in class where the waters parted somehow and you could see truth in its purest form,” says Tom, “but some of the best moments for me happened while walking to and from school every day with friends.” Betsy agrees: “Some of my dearest friends are MIT friends. When we reconnect, there’s this bond and shared history of figuring out who you are and what you believe in by having intense conversations with really smart, engaged people.”

Tom, who has met the two recipients of the scholarship fund in person, was inspired by the students’ accomplishments. “If we can knock down the financial burden for them a bit, they’ll be more focused on what they came here to do,” says Tom. “To be exposed to all the things available at MIT and not take advantage of them because you’re worried about money is not making the best use of those four years.”

Achieving goals for the future

Planned giving made sense to Tom and Betsy because it ensured that they could finish what they started. “For the longest time, I thought funding a scholarship was completely unattainable,” says Tom. “We’re just workaday engineers. Then I started looking at it and realized it was doable.” He hopes others will follow suit. “Consider creating a scholarship fund! Build that fund over your lifetime and top it off with a legacy gift. You don’t have to build a building to have an impact. Just think: ‘I can help a couple of kids get through MIT.’”

“Funding a scholarship feels like an investment in the future for everyone,” adds Betsy, “because the things students can do and the impact they can make with a little bit of assistance from us is incredible.”