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Lasting Legacy
Paul Paganucci, Waterville native and longtime college trustee, is recognized for his steadfast support with a posthumous degree from Colby.
   

Lasting Legacy: Posthumuos degree recognizes steadfast support from Paul Peganucci

By Stephen Collins '74
Paul Paganucci
Paul D. Paganucci

On April 5, 1975, an associate dean of the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration spoke in Given Auditorium at the 24th annual Colby Institute for Management. The speaker was Paul D. Paganucci, a Waterville native, and the gist of his talk was that Maine, and northern New England as a region, needed to make strategic investments to capitalize on sure-fire opportunities to increase revenues.

Paganucci specifically criticized Independent Maine Governor James Longley, who was slashing tourism spending in the year before the U.S. bicentennial celebration and the arrival of the summer Olympic Games in nearby Montreal. Paganucci was bullish on his home state's virtues (quality of life and environment) and savvy about trends that would make Maine more attractive in years to come (increased importance of leisure time and recreation). "What," he asked Maine business leaders of the day, "do Quebec and Nova Scotia have to make them more appealing to tourists than Maine?"

There's no record that Longley paid any attention, but officials at Colby recognized a strategic opportunity. Before the year was out they had enlisted Paganucci as a trustee of the College, and for a quarter century Colby profited from his fiscal wisdom, his business and finance connections and his camaraderie and good humor at board meetings, commencements and other functions.

Paganucci passed away in February after a lengthy illness, three months before he was to receive an honorary doctorate at commencement in recognition of his renowned contributions to the College. President William Adams and Chair of the Board of Trustees James Crawford '64 visited his widow, Marilyn, and their son, Tom, at the family's summer home on Great Pond in July to present posthumously the degree and the academic hood that went with it.

Marilyn Paganucci recalled the 1975 Management Institute engagement as the beginning of her late husband's official relationship with the College. "Colby was very special to Paul," she said.

A year before his death Paganucci said, "I guess it was having relatives who went there, growing up on Gilman Street with professors in every fourth or fifth house and going to school with their children, who set a fast pace in the Waterville schools. It's just always been a part of my life."

When Paganucci left Waterville for Dartmouth College and extraordinary success in several arenas, he never needed to look back. But it was his modesty and his genuine concern for Colby and Waterville that friends remembered this spring. "He never really forgot his roots-he was from Waterville, Maine, and he knew it, and he was proud of it," Donald Freeman '59 told the Morning Sentinel after Paganucci's death.

Trustee Joseph Boulos '68 called him "a gentleman-a very, very successful gentleman with modesty, which is hard to find these days."

Paganucci showed early promise. Freeman said Paganucci's tenacious spirit, evident during their high school football days, helped propel Paganucci to such heights of accomplishment. Tom Paganucci liked a comment that someone once made,that "Paul couldn't afford to graduate from college, he was such an entrepreneur and had so many businesses going at Dartmouth."

But graduate he did, from Waterville High, Dartmouth (Phi Beta Kappa), Amos Tuck and Harvard Law School. He achieved phenomenal success in not one but four careers: in finance as president of a Wall Street brokerage firm, in business as president and later chair of the executive board of W.R. Grace & Co., in academe as vice president and treasurer of Dartmouth College and in banking as founder and chairman of Ledyard National Bank.

At Colby he is remembered as the conscience of the Board of Trustees for his insistence on fiscal prudence and his emphasis on building the endowment. He chaired the board's Investment Committee for more than 20 years. He also is revered as a sort of Wall Street godfather, having arranged access for the College to investment instruments-particularly venture capital funds and private equities-that wouldn't normally be open to an institution of Colby's size. "I think our endowment multiplied more than twelve times while Paul was on the board," Crawford said.

His generosity to Colby did not end with the time, wisdom and connections he shared freely. Last year the Paganuccis announced a $1.2-million gift to endow the Paul D. and Marilyn Paganucci Chair in Italian Language and Literature, a gift that bore fruit with the hiring of Assistant Professor Mario Moroni to fill the chair beginning this fall. Previously the couple had established scholarships for students from the Paganuccis' respective hometown areas. Perhaps more important, Paganucci's influence as "the conscience of the board," in the words of former president William Cotter, lives on, as his legacy of fiscal prudence and wise investing have become inculcated as part of Colby's culture.

 


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