President William D. Adams and Chair of the Board of Trustees Robert E. Diamond Jr. '73 look ahead
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and of everyone who studies and works at Colby, our thanks to the 25,000 donors who participated in the Reaching the World campaign, including donors to the Colby Fund. Additional expressions of thanks and recognition will be mounted as the academic year progresses.
However, this being Colby—a place of great aspiration—we will not pause long for self-congratulation. Work has already begun to move the College toward its bicentennial, in 2013, and toward defining goals for the beginning of its third century. What are our priorities now, in light of our experience during the last 10 years? How can the College continue to improve the educational experience of its students while strengthening its position in the competitive universe of private higher education? Where should we commit resources in a time of continuing economic constraint? The trustees have set goals for Colby as we approach the bicentennial. You will be seeing more about them, but here is a preview of the operational theories under which the board and administration will work in the coming years:
Colby will be a place where students learn to communicate clearly and think imaginatively.
Colby competes for students, resources, and stature with the very best liberal arts colleges in the nation. Our future reputation and competitiveness will depend in part on our capacity to facilitate and then demonstrate the intellectual development of our students in those areas that have always been the hallmark of liberal learning: the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively, in writing and orally, and the ability to think imaginatively and critically about complex subjects and problems. Following the College’s decennial accreditation self-study in 2007, Colby’s faculty has engaged in a curricular review focused primarily on the general education program and core curriculum of the College. In this academic year, the faculty will build on its work in developing a writing program for first-year students by examining the possibilities for a writing across the curriculum program for all students. Under the leadership of outgoing Dean of Faculty Edward Yeterian and Associate Dean Michael Donihue, the faculty also has engaged in assessment of student learning at the course level; under new Dean of Faculty Lori Kletzer, that effort will be expanded to include assessment at the program level, so no Colby student will graduate unaware of the skills and competencies to be gained from a liberal arts education. Faculty in Colby’s Humanities Division will develop a 10-year plan to assess, augment, and invigorate the programs in that area. The revision and expansion of Colby’s writing program and requirements and the development of a more consistent and comprehensive approach to oral communication skills will be among the highest priorities over the next five years.
Colby will be a destination for students interested in public affairs and civic engagement.
Colby’s version of the liberal arts experience is deeply connected to engagement with public life, and we will continue our efforts to build the College’s reputation as a destination for students interested in public affairs and civic engagement. Colby’s long-standing strengths in public policy and public affairs have been substantially reinforced and extended by the successful launch and impressive growth of the Goldfarb Center. We will continue to reinforce this area of distinction and excellence.
Colby will be regarded as a compelling destination for students who want the best possible exposure to the visual arts in the context of a liberal arts experience.
Over the next five years, we will continue to reinforce the profile of the visual arts at Colby, both within the classroom and through the rapidly expanding programming and physical assets of the Colby College Museum of Art.
New faculty resources provided by the strategic plan and the campaign have allowed us to hire a scholar of film studies in the American Studies Program. To augment our on-campus resources in this area, we will pursue a strategic partnership with the newly created Maine Film Center and its flagship program, the Maine International Film Festival. We will also begin expanding the photography curriculum and will reinforce our capacity to manage and use the College’s growing digitized visual resources, including the museum’s leading collections.
We also will expand the Colby College Museum of Art to house the magnificent Lunder Collection of American Art. Pending the successful completion of fundraising for the expansion, the museum renovations will be complete in time for a celebration to cap Colby’s bicentennial year.
Colby will be a national leader among liberal arts colleges in environmental studies and campus sustainability.
Our efforts will form around several core initiatives in environmental studies. Beginning in the 2011-12 academic year, we will initiate a marine conservation track in the Environmental Studies Program. A new faculty position and the curriculum it supports will be complemented by a strategic partnership with the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, which will give Colby faculty and students access to marine research facilities, environments, and experiences. Another endowment gift to the Reaching the World campaign will support a new faculty position in energy policy and the development of associated curricular offerings, and a third position in sustainability science will facilitate deeper and richer interactions among the Environmental Studies Program and Colby’s excellent science programs. Meanwhile, campus sustainability will remain a priority at the College. The centerpiece of our efforts in coming years will be construction of a biomass steam plant, which will provide for Colby’s heating and cooling needs in a more cost-effective and environmentally responsible way.
Colby will be known as a college that is uncommonly committed to international education and uncommonly successful in exposing students to global issues.
Over the past several decades, Colby has developed significant commitments to international education and global issues. Our language and area studies programs are extensive. The curriculum throughout the social sciences and humanities has become increasingly global in its outlook. Through the Davis UWC program, the student body has become internationally diverse, and the effects of that diversity are substantial and broadly appreciated. And study abroad remains an important dimension of the Colby experience for roughly two thirds of our student body.
Preserving and enhancing this international focus—and more clearly connecting the international dimension to Colby’s public profile—will be a priority in the coming five years. To this end, we will need to review carefully our current commitments and explore the ways in which we can accentuate the College’s international dimensions. This review and exploration needs to move forward at both the faculty and board levels. We will also commit ourselves to maintaining the Davis UWC Scholars Program at close to its current scope. This will require significant growth of the financial aid budget and aggressive fundraising initiatives aimed at endowing a substantial portion of this commitment.
Colby will be a leader in innovative teaching and research in the humanities.
Colby’s commitment to the humanistic disciplines is substantial. We have 95 faculty members deployed in 12 departments and programs, and more than 26 percent of our students are majoring in the humanistic disciplines (including history). Nationally, enrollments and majors in the humanities are declining, and this pattern is becoming evident at Colby, as well. This presents a challenge—and an opportunity. As an enrollment management matter, we have compelling reasons to want to see a healthy balance of enrollments and majors across the College. But given our investment in the humanities and the excellence of our programs, we also have an opportunity to attract extremely talented and motivated students looking for a distinctive approach to the humanities.
Colby will be diverse. Our reputation for excellence depends on it.
The College has renewed its commitment to diversity and has recently made significant and lasting progress on the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented groups. Our competitive interests demand that we sustain this success, and so too does our commitment to excellence.
Over the next several years, the Office of Admissions will continue its efforts to recruit a more diverse student body. This effort will have several dimensions, including the new and promising Howard Hughes Medical Institute initiative, which seeks to attract and enroll students from underrepresented groups in Colby’s science programs. And on the international front we will seek to sustain the Davis UWC program at a robust level