New Alumni Center is Monument to Friendship



Forty-one years ago, three young men,one each from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut,met at Colby. To say theirs would be a lasting friendship would be like saying there is a bit of a rivalry between Mules and Polar Bears.

Doug Schair '67, Kurt Swenson '67 and Tom Watson '67 pledged the ATO fraternity together in 1963 and ended up as roommates there. After graduation all three would attend Boston College Law School, though on slightly different schedules and with different outcomes.

Construction continues on the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center, due to be completed in mid-2005.
And in April of this year the trio reunited to do something together that will stand indefinitely as a monument to the strength of the bonds that are formed by Colby students and that last lifetimes. They jointly gave the naming gift for a new $6-million building on the Colby Green,the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center.

On April 17 Schair and Watson and their family members were on hand for a ceremonial groundbreaking with important symbolism for a college approaching its 200th anniversary. The new alumni center will be the first new building on the Colby Green, which is the site of the largest and most ambitious expansion of campus facilities since Colby moved from downtown to the Mayflower Hill campus more than 50 years ago. The chrome-plated shovels only turned over a few spadesful of dirt, but the act launched a series of projects that will represent more than $50 million in new facilities when the campus expansion plan is fulfilled, sometime after the College's 2013 bicentennial. "It's really the beginning of a new chapter for Colby College," Schair said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Alex Wilson '73, chair of the Alumni Council, told the gathering, "For many years it has been the dream of numerous alumni to be able to come back to Colby and to gather in a warm, welcoming, alumni space at the center of campus. The beautiful new building planned for this space will fulfill that dream."

Four new buildings are envisioned in the strategic Plan for Colby, approved two years ago, all of them to be built in the new district east of Mayflower Hill Drive. It is fitting that first among them is the alumni building, which will include offices for development and alumni relations, Schair said, since alumni engagement is the foundation on which the campus expansion and other initiatives of the strategic plan will be built.

As the strategic plan took shape, Schair didn't feel Colby's alumni and development effort could accomplish its goals in what he called inadequate facilities it shares in two widely separated buildings. The new offices in the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center will provide the facilities for future Colby growth and they will benefit academic programs as well; offices vacated in Eustis and Millett will be used to alleviate a space crunch that has forced some professors on sabbatical to work in off-campus offices.

At the groundbreaking President William Adams said, "Doug's vision on this was singular, powerful and relentless," as he worked first to speak to various groups about the strategic necessity of the building and then to raise the necessary capital to make the April 2004 ground-breaking possible.

Schair said his family wouldn't allow him to have just their name on the alumni and development center, so he turned to his old college buddies, who stepped up with the support to make the project a reality.

"The best alumni memories," Wilson said, "are of the enduring friendships forged as students while attending Colby." Count the Schair-Swenson-Watson friendship as one that will, literally and appropriately, be cast in bronze or chiseled in stone at Colby.