Bullish on Colby

 

Joe Boulos succeeds Jim Crawford as Board of Trustees chair; sustains initiatives and momentum

 

Joe Boulos '68, the new chair of Colby's Board of Trustees, comes to the job with a deep love and enthusiasm for the College, astute entrepreneurial instincts, and an emerging profile as one of Maine's important movers and shakers.

image
Joe Boulos '68 pledges to move the College forward as it implements its strategic plan.
Boulos broke out in the state's spotlight last winter in two major stories"his proposal to build a $250-million civic and convention center in Portland and a scholarship fund and an event he organized to honor service men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was described at the time as a well-connected but low-profile-by-choice Portland real estate developer who had remained under the radar while making a profound mark on southern Maine and Portland in particular.
He takes on leadership of Colby's governing body when the College is in the midst of executing a comprehensive plan for the decade and just as it launches the public phase of its most ambitious capital campaign ever. Bullish about Colby's recent accomplishments and its prospects for the future, Boulos has emerged as a leader among trustees who are eager for the College to receive recognition as a world-class institution. And he won't be one to let Colby rest on it laurels.

Joseph F. Boulos

Education
Colby, Class of 1968, B.A. in administrative science

Career
Chair and CEO, CB Richard Ellis/The Boulos Company (commercial brokerage, commercial asset management, real estate development, real estate security)
1975, founded The Boulos Company
1973-75, commercial pilot in Southeast Asia, Africa, South America
1968-73, U.S. Marine Corps pilot in Vietnam

Service
Trustee, Colby, 1993-present
Trustee, Portland Museum of Art
Advisory board member, Federal Reserve
Trustee, Maine Bank & Trust
Chair, Compact for Higher Education
Founding director, The Maine Alliance
Founding director, Maine Real Estate Developers Association

Awards
2003, Colby College Distinguished Alumnus Award
1997, Maine Business Hall of Fame inductee
1992, Developer of the Year, Maine Real Estate Developers Assn.
1988, Developer of the Year, Finance Authority of Maine

Married: Sheri Boulos

40%#"I'm very direct. I'm very goal-oriented and results-oriented," Boulos said during an interview in his office, which overlooks the booming Old Port area around Portland's waterfront. "It may be the result of growing up with six kids," he said, referring to his childhood in Portland and South Portland with five siblings.

Boulos points to the ways his experiences as a pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps right after he graduated from Colby shaped his personality and leadership style. Two years in the Vietnam War and experiences afterward as a commercial helicopter pilot in Laos, the Congo, and South America, he says, left him anything but risk-averse. "I think that a military experience, or someplace that you've been tested and you make it through, instills a lot of confidence. You think, 'What's the worst thing that can happen? The business doesn't make it? So what?' I don't think I'm afraid of trying something new."

That attitude has put him at the head of one of Maine's largest commercial real estate groups, with 65 employees in companies that cover commercial brokerage, commercial asset management, real estate development, and real estate security services.

So why does one of the busiest and most successful entrepreneurs in the state make room to chair Colby's Board of Trustees? "I've always thought that a good trustee has to have, number one, a great love for the college and have the college's interests first. One thing I've found about our board is it's the antithesis of being political," he said. "If you put your own interest aside, and the credit for all of this, there's not much you can't accomplish."

As board chair he sees his role as "an advocate for the College and an advocate for its leadership and Bro Adams." And, like his predecessor, he's conscious of where that role ends. "The board has great ideas and great vision, but when a board steps in and tries to run a college, something has gone amok. That's not our role," Boulos said.

Governing the College requires some tough choices, but Boulos is ready to confront them with hard business sense. "Let's talk about what has to be done and what's it going to cost. There are trade-offs. You can't do everything," he said. "There are certainly challenges, but this Board of Trustees has an immense amount of talent on it and we'll solve those problems."

His aspirations, right in line with Colby's strategic plan, are to see the College ever-stronger. "We have had a terrific start," he said of progress made on the strategic plan under Jim Crawford's leadership. "But you always want to measure yourself, and you never want to look back. You always want to look forward I'd rather set much more ambitious goals than timid goals."

Jim Crawford's Legacy

image
The end of the 2004-05 school year brought with it the end of Jim Crawford '64's six-year term as chair of Colby's Board of Trustees. But even as Crawford handed off that leadership role to Joe Boulos '68, his vision was fixed on the future.

"Things are on the drawing board," he said, characterizing his years at the helm of the College governing body as a time of transition and table-setting. "A lot of it now is execution," he concluded, with a nod toward Boulos, seated alongside him in the latter's Portland office. But, in keeping with Crawford's self-effacing character, that summary overlooked dramatic developments brought to conclusion under his own leadership.

Crawford, who took over as chair of the board in 1999, headed the search committee that brought President William "Bro" Adams to Colby in 2000. He also led the board during the development of a long-range strategic plan that mapped out a decade of ambitious growth in Colby's programs, facilities, and endowment. And, before he and his wife, Linda Johnson Crawford '64, were recognized for service to Colby with honorary doctoral degrees presented in May, Crawford saw many of the initiatives in the long-range plan put into action, some ahead of schedule.

James B. Crawford

Education
Colby, Class of 1964, B.A. in economics
Attended NYU Graduate School of Business
Colby, 2005, Honorary Doctor of Laws degree

Service
Chair, Colby Board of Trustees, 1999-2005
Chair, Boys & Girls Club Foundation, Richmond, Va., 2003-present
Senior Warden, St. Mary"s Episcopal Church, 2003-present
Member, Colby Board of Trustees, 1990-present

Career
Consultant, Evan Energy Company, Richmond, Va., present
Chairman and CEO of James River Coal Co., 1988-2003
President and CEO of Transco Coal Co., 1982-1988

Married: Linda Johnson Crawford "64
40%#Crawford's leadership was marked by openness, cooperation, and consensus, Boulos said. But the ever-gracious, southern-gentleman demeanor on the part of the Richmond, Virginia, coal-company executive may have partially concealed the strength of Crawford's leadership. "Quite frankly, some trustees had to be sold on spending the money for the plan that Bro conceived," Boulos said. "I think through [Crawford's] leadership and his ability to demonstrate the benefits of a long-range plan, the trustees unanimously bought into it, and you're seeing the results now. And those results are hard to argue with."

The Colby Green, for example"the most ambitious campus expansion since the move from downtown Waterville to Mayflower Hill more than a half-century ago. And the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center, which opened in July. The state-of-the-art synthetic turf Bill Alfond Field, completed well ahead of the plan's schedule. The creation of a neuroscience program, and the rapid ascendance of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, which Crawford and Boulos agree strategically distinguishes Colby from its peers by combining some of the College's strongest academic and outreach programs in an effective pedagogical and service-oriented organization.

Crawford said maintaining and building the board's relationship with the faculty was a priority for him during his term as chair, and one program he initiated was to include a faculty presentation at almost every trustee meeting.

A hallmark of Colby, and one of the keys to its extraordinary success over the years, Crawford said, is the spirit of cooperation among trustees, faculty members, and the administration. "We, as board members, look upon our role as oversight and as providing the leadership and vision to support the College," he said. "We're not in here to try to run the College day-to-day. We're not in here to try and do anything that promotes our own self-interest. It's really 'what can the board do to strengthen and support Bro's position and also the faculty's position.'"

Perhaps Crawford's proudest accomplishment was lining up the current generation of administrative leadership"the hiring of Adams in 2000. "We were looking for someone who was not going to be a radical change from what Colby had. We were looking for someone who had good communication skills and was a consensus builder and was a leader who recognized the strengths of Colby," he said. The most inclusive process used in any college-president search in the nation, involving literally scores of people in the selection, netted three "excellent finalists," Crawford said, noting that the other two went on to become the current presidents at Bates and Middlebury.

Boulos praised Crawford for the "unbelievable momentum" he established, and pledged to sustain and build upon it. "People"faculty, students, trustees"they feel good about the College, and justifiably," Boulos said. "We should keep that going."