Louise Peterson Forsleff

Louise Peterson Forsleff '56 with President Bro Adams
Louise Peterson Forsleff attended Colby only during her sophomore year. She had left Bryn Mawr to be with her fiancé, Parviz Chahbazi ’53, a Colby senior. After Parviz graduated, the couple married and moved to Massachusetts, where Parviz began graduate school. “Eight years and two kids after starting as a freshman at Bryn Mawr, I finally got my degree at Lake Erie College,” said Louise, who went on to earn a master’s degree at Western Michigan University and a Ph.D. in psychology at Michigan State. She also took classes at Tufts and Cornell along the way. Of all of the schools she’s attended, Colby is the one to which she has chosen to make significant gifts. “It stands out in comparison to the others in that the faculty is so available to students,” she said.

Louise attended Colby during the Bixler era and remembers with warmth Dr. and Mrs. Bixler inviting students to their home. Her husband admired philosophy professor John Clark so much they named their son after him. Both Dr. Bixler and Dr. Clark officiated at their summer 1953 wedding. Entering as a French major, Louise switched to English in order to take Professor Alfred King “Chappie” Chapman ’25’s legendary Romantic Revival class, open only to English majors. He was known for his final exams, on which he would give lines from poems and ask students to identify the poet and title of the poem.

Louise has maintained a lifelong connection to Colby that stands out above all the other schools she attended. She has established a bequest and three charitable gift annuities at Colby, all of which will support the Forsleff Financial Aid Fund to benefit students from Sagadahoc, Lincoln, or Hancock counties in Maine or, as a secondary preference, Maine students in general. Louise grew up on the coast of Maine, where many students cannot consider attending Colby without scholarship help. She believes students from the Maine coast should have access to the world-class education available so close to their homes, and her financial aid fund is intended not only to make that happen but with the hope that these students will remain in Maine, as so many leave the state for job opportunities.

“I have no inherited wealth; the money I’ve promised to Colby I earned as an educator. It seems fitting to use it to support an educational institution.” The charitable gift annuities enable her to make larger gifts than she could have made outright, and they also qualify her for membership in the Bixler Society.

Louise retired in 1998 from a 36-year career at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where she was an associate vice president and a professor of holistic health. She also served as a consulting psychologist and has written on the topics of holistic health, sexual harassment, minority recruitment for counsellor training, housing for seniors and the homeless, and environmental design. In addition to her financial support, she has served Colby as a Career Center volunteer, and she represented Colby at the presidential inauguration at Kalamazoo College in 2006.
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