In 1998 Colleen Khoury '64 became the first woman dean of the University of Maine School of Law, making her one of only 25 women deans at law schools nationally at the time. With a J.D. from Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago Kent College of Law, she had worked as a tax attorney at Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, LLC, and as professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law, and she had been honored for helping women advance in the legal profession. Colleen credits her family and upbringing with setting her character, but she says Colby is responsible for the way her life has unfolded.
Colleen and her husband, David Karraker, recently documented a bequest to Colby that has been in both their wills for some time. Documenting the bequest with the Office of Gift Planning qualifies the couple as Willows Society members.
Colleen and David have different reasons for supporting Colby. Considered smart and a good student in high school, Colleen found Colby a little challenging at first, but it ultimately became a transformative experience that set her on her life's path. She wants to help ensure that the College continues to be a launching pad for students, as it was for her.
"Colby's faculty and students introduced me to the life of the mind and taught me to be a critical thinker," she said. Originally intending to major in English, Colleen quickly became fascinated by government and chose it as her major. "During my years at Colby, John F. Kennedy was president, and there was a lot going on in the world. It was such an exciting time, and the faculty and classes were incredibly inspiring. The old Spa in the library was the central meeting place then, and it was the perfect place to sit and talk with professors outside of class," she said.
During her senior year she took Classics in Translation from Peter Westervelt to fulfill a requirement in the humanities. "It was the most wonderful class I ever took, and I almost wished I could go back and major in classics. Taking requirements from the other liberal arts during my senior year made me realize how much more there was to learn and turned me into a lifelong reader," she said.
"Once I'm gone, my bequest will fill the gap left by the annual Colby Fund gift I'll no longer be making," she said. The bequest is unrestricted, making it possible for the College to use it wherever it's most needed. Having worked in the development field herself, Colleen knows the importance of unrestricted giving and trusts the College to use the gift to its best advantage.
David's connection to Colby began in 1979 when he accompanied Colleen to her 15th reunion. He was struck by the beauty of the campus and with how well the College's staff ran everything. He became more familiar with the College while accompanying Colleen to campus for her trustee meetings and became impressed with Colby's faculty and students—and even with the program offered to spouses of board members. "I get an enormous amount of pleasure from going through the Colby College Museum of Art—it's the best small college art museum I've ever seen," he said.
From the perspective of an outsider with considerable access to Colby's inner workings, David finds the quality of President William D. Adams's leadership to be extraordinary. David witnessed former President William R. Cotter substantially advancing the College, and now he is seeing Adams continue the upward trajectory. "As an example, Bro's handling of the physical expansion of the campus is remarkable. Faced with the challenge of expanding the campus, he has managed to do so in a way that fits with the school's architecture and preserves the integrity of the original campus plan. I also love to listen to him speak—he's very articulate, and he motivates the trustees. He gives a clear sense of Colby's academic mission, and he inspires confidence."
David also supports the college he attended in the Midwest, which, like Colby, offered small classes and plenty of attention from professors. As a student there he was urged to look beyond himself and find a deeper understanding of the world. "Colby is a more selective version of my college, and I know I would have had a marvellous experience there as well," he said. His will already included a bequest to his own college, but he found Colby so remarkable that he added another for Colby.
By making a bequest, Colleen and David are able to have a meaningful impact on the College that has meant so much to them. Their reciprocal wills contain a residuary gift to the handful of charities most important to them, including Colby. "David and I are comfortable, but not wealthy," said Colleen. "The bequest will be a larger gift than we ever could make during our lifetimes."
In 2003 Colleen received the Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association, given annually to women who have worked to remove barriers and advance the position of women in the legal profession. She is currently a member of the Justice Action Group, the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Portland, and the Maine Women's Forum. She also serves as an advisory trustee of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.
Colleen has been a regular Colby Fund donor since graduation and has given at the leadership level for decades. For years she served as a Colby Fund agent, then as an overseer, and now on the Board of Trustees and the Advisory Committee for the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. Recently she took on the job of vice chair for gift planning on the board's Development Committee. Colleen received a Colby Brick Award in 2004.
To learn more about how your inspired gift can make a lasting impact on generations of Colby students, please contact the Office of Gift Planning. Call Susan F. Cook ’75, P’11, at 800-809-0103, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.colby.edu/willows.