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When Douglas Archibald (English) speaks of the most important changes at Colby during his career, he talks about credit requirements and tenure process--big-picture changes that have had a profound effect on students and faculty at Colby for the past 30 years.
Part of the young guard when he arrived at Colby in 1973, Archibald chaired the English Department at a time when the College was evolving toward a more democratic institution. He was dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs (1982-88) when the College moved from a five-one-five system (five courses each semester and a Jan Plan) to a four-one-four. For faculty, the reduced teaching load "was part of the process of becoming more professional," Archibald said. "We taught fewer courses and had more time to prepare those courses."
That also freed faculty to do scholarship. For Archibald that included serving as co-editor of W.B. Yeats's Autobiographies (Vol.III of The Collected Works), lecturing in both the U.S. and Ireland and contributing to Irish periodicals. Since 1986, Archibald has been editor of the Colby Quarterly, overseeing issues that focused on Irish literature, including the work of Michael Longley, Eavan Boland, William Trevor and Seamus Heaney and explored American popular culture, Shakespeare and film, among others themes.
Archibald also points to changes that opened up the tenure process to more faculty involvement. "The faculty as a whole, instead of just a few professors, took responsibility for the tenure and promotion process. We made very tough decisions but I think demonstrated that it could be done conscientiously," he said. "As a faculty body we have become more accomplished, more professional, more demanding."
And the students? Compared with their predecessors in the '60s they're learning in a different climate, Archibald said. Forty years ago classroom discussion was contentious and ideas were debated--and shot down--vigorously.
"If you had asked me, when I first started teaching in '63, if I had one word to tell what I wanted my classroom to be like, I would say 'exciting.' If you ask me now I would say 'safe.' We want students to feel okay. We want them to think that they're being taken seriously. . . . But it's about tolerance and open-mindedness now."
Jan Hogendorn's adventure in economics began with a Ph.D. thesis-researching trek across the Sahara Desert with his wife, Dianne, in a Volkswagen bus. The adventure (at least the classroom portion of it) ended in May when Hogendorn, the Grossman Professor of Economics, retired after 37 years at Colby.
Hogendorn's students have gone on to prominence in academe, in international banking, in development economics. And while he strived to impart the knowledge he acquired in his career as an economist, Hogendorn hoped to first pass on something more fundamental. "I personally always thought the key role of an undergraduate teacher, rather than to convey information, is instead to convey a love for the subject."
That's why he freely admits that, though many of his students will forget some of what they learn in first-year economics, that course could be the most important in laying the groundwork for a career in the field if it kindles an interest in economic principles.
Hogendorn did impart his conviction that international trade should not be constrained in general and that free international trade leads to higher standards of living. But there is a role for public policy to ease the transition, he believes. "There are going to be those who are harmed by free, open trade," he said. "Public policy must take that into account."
It was a position he moved to over time, beginning with his study with the conservative economist Lord Peter Bower at the London School of Economics. Bower was a free-market disciple but he gave Hogendorn free rein to explore his own ideas. At Colby, Hogendorn has done the same with his students.
"I loved being a liberal arts guy," Hogendorn said. "I just love the way in liberal arts colleges you have a certain freedom you don't have in big universities. In a big university I couldn't have been the same professor who does international trade and development and at the same time be allowed to follow my interests in the economics of slavery. You couldn't have done that in a big university. And I have also loved the fact that in a liberal arts college students will take courses in another discipline. In international trade and development, more than half my students were from other majors."
"I always loved the input of outside knowledge," he said.
Retiring flute teacher Jean Rosenblum taught students ranging from "rank beginners to extraordinary players" since she began teaching at Colby in 1968. Whatever their level of skill, she says, they all grew as musicians.
"Wonderful outlets" exist for Colby students, especially since the applied music program began in 1972, Rosenblum said. Especially talented players join the Colby Symphony Orchestra, and winners of the College's annual concerto competition perform as soloists with the orchestra. Some students, chosen by audition, give recitals. Her students also play at the annual Festival of Carols and Lights at Christmastime.
"I try to help them achieve their goals," Rosenblum said. "I'm interested in giving them love of music. I absolutely love music and have my whole life. It's an international language that beats any other language. You can go anywhere and converse.'" Musical skills, she believes, enhanced her students' self-esteem and the ability to perform better in any aspect of their lives. Most continue to be involved in music in some way after Colby, and many are still actively playing.
"I've taught so many bright kids," she said. "They become your huge family." These days her students' level of ability "is just incredible," Rosenblum said. "They seem to learn faster and to have more skills since I first came in."
The year she came to Colby she joined both the Bangor and the Colby symphony orchestras. She has seen steady growth in the quality of the Colby orchestra, rating it with Bangor and Portland and among the best small liberal arts college programs in New England. "It's been a really good time," she said.
Rosenblum will continue teaching at the University of Southern Maine, where she signed on several years ago. She also taught in local schools and maintains a studio at her home in Falmouth. If she could get kids for three hours a day after school as the sports coaches do, she said, "what a flute team I'd have!"
Jean Donovan Sanborn
Professor of English Jean Donovan Sanborn leaves Colby on a high: the Writing Center she launched in the basement of Lorimer Chapel in 1984 has grown into the Farnham Writers' Center, 17 student tutors strong and enjoying campus-wide identity on "the Street" in Miller Library.
The Farnham Writers' Center (the naming grant came with a gift from Margaret Davis Farnham '28) grew from the same pedagogical roots as faculty colloquia, the Center for Teaching and the Writing Across the Curriculum program. Sanborn says faculty from different disciplines, believing students "were eager to get the same complexity into their writing that's in their heads," concluded that several different types of writing would be components of Colby courses.
"Interdisciplinary work is a great strength here," she said.
The composition that students do today includes journals, response papers, multiple drafts, portfolios and peer-edited projects. Students consulting tutors at the Writers' Center "talk to peers who ask questions to open up their thinking, and a light goes on," said Sanborn, who trained in writing and developmental psychology. The center's goal: to move students from plane to plane, progressing to American academic English.
"It's really pedagogical. It's a piece of the learning pie," she said. Include education courses among other pieces she's served to students during her 27 years at Colby.
For years Sanborn and a colleague coordinated workshops on essay writing at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, composition's equivalent of the Modern Language Association. She also completed the manuscript of a book, Weaving Writing.
Bringing national expert Peter Elbow to Colby to conduct a Writing Across the Curriculum workshop was a notable moment, Sanborn says. Working with Colby's Trustee Commission on Multicultural and Special Interest Housing remains another.
But her high point, she said, was "being wonderfully close to the Writers' Center tutors. That's what I'll miss mostthe company of young minds and energies."
After twice heading the Colby in Cork program, Sanborn located on Bailey Island, Maine, where she said she plans to garden, visit with grandchildren and "write more, after years of working with other people's writing."
John Sweney and his wife, Barbara, had never seen Colby College when he applied for a teaching job in 1967. With a fresh doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Sweney met then-English Department chairman R. Mark Benbow at the Modern Language Association meeting in New York. Benbow offered Sweney a job; Sweney called a couple of Colby graduates who were working on degrees at Wisconsin.
"They recommended Colby highly," Sweney said. "We took the job over the phone."
The son and grandson of Iowa farmers, Sweney put down deep roots at Colby. Thirty-six years later, he remembers teaching in the '60s, when campus protest was the rule and a job with a corporation was "a badge of shame." "Now some of the students I've met do seem to still want to change the world, but they're just going about it a different way," he said.
He's gone about changing the world by passing on to students his love of literature. He's taught composition and British and American literature, has led students into great books, seen the number of low grades dwindle. He speculates that the number of very good students at Colby has gone up.
Sweney also taught for many years at the Colby program in Cork, Ireland, where he learned he couldn't take for granted that Irish students knew about FDR or the American Civil War. He found that English department meetings in Ireland and America are "depressingly similar"; he found that friendships made in Ireland beckon him to return there.
This spring Sweney teamed with Robert McArthur (philosophy, integrated studies) to teach a course called The Good Life. Is there a "good life" for all of us? What are its ingredients? Students--and faculty--read Tolstoy, Thoreau, Rand, Skinner, Kerouac and Samuel Johnson.
Students could have considered the life of John Sweney. "My passion was literature. It seemed to me that my professors had led a good life," he said. "They were reading literature and talking about it to their students and they got paid for it. I thought, 'I'll be reading literature all my life anyway, why not make what I love to do my vocation?'"
"I think there are students for whom I've made a difference," Sweney said. "I can't imagine where else I'd be so happy."
During his 25 years coaching Colby track and field, Jim Wescott's teams rewrote 28 of 32 records.
The name of the game is development and progress, Wescott says. Eleven of his athletes garnered All-America honors, three of them three times; one earned four. But a miler who pared 18 seconds to run 4:24 progressed as much, Wescott believes, as the 4:24 miler who lowered his time to 4:06. "You get three attempts at the pole vault," he said. "Life gives us a second chance."
Head coach at Division I North Carolina State University before he came to Colby, Wescott didn't see any less competitiveness or desire to improve in Division III athletes. The 1990 New England Division III Coach of the Year in cross country says he took equal pleasure in dealing with the different levels of ability and success.
The men's and women's track and field programs at Colby offer "a healthy mix socially and academically," Wescott said. Women's head coach Debra Aitken coaches the jumpers; the teams sometimes travel together and cheer each other on at meets. Training partners push one another to higher levels. "You hope they see the value of it. You hope they continue to help each other in life," he said.
Highpoints of Wescott's Colby career include the development of the Campbell Trails, eight miles of stimulating cross-country trails provided by the family of Eleanor Campbell '81. The Alfond Track enabled the College to stage important events, including the 1992 Division III National Championships, which brought top athletes from across the country to the campus. "It was like a miniature Olympic Village," Wescott said.
Keep the fun in it, he counsels his athletes. Take your running shoes wherever you go: "There's no telling what you'll see, from the Champs Élysées to rabbits." A role model of enthusiasm and fitness on his daily runs, he teaches "some sense of staying in shape. If you're in decent shape, you can stay healthy."
The outdoor state meet high jump, recently named for Wescott, reflects the respect of his peers and places him among Maine's coaching legends. They reaffirmed that in June by naming Wescott New England Division III Coach of the Year for 2003.
The Colby College Museum of Art has grown steadily in stature over the
past four decades. Lynne Moss Perricelli '95 looks at the museum's past,
present, and future.
Pride and Prejudice
Gay Colby students are demanding more visibility and inclusion in the
College community. Colby details their concerns, and those of
students who think the gay community has gone too far.
Construction begins for The Colby Green, the centerpiece of the
College's most significant expansion in a half-century.
All that Jazz
Vinnie Martucci '77 composes and improvises to make a life in music
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