The Colby Difference


In a ceremony that incorporated academic traditions dating to medieval times and the College's first live video webcast, Colby inaugurated William D. Adams as its 19th president on October 21. Only the third inauguration at Colby since World War II, the event blended a sense of historical gravity, an air of celebration and a focus on the future.

The formal installation ceremony featured Adams's inaugural address and warm welcomes from Senator Olympia Snowe and Congressman Tom Allen among others, and it featured Colby faculty plus representatives of four dozen other colleges and universities in full academic regalia. Marching to strains of a brass quintet, the inaugural procession included a long splash of color–the flags of 64 nations, each carried by a Colby student hailing from the corresponding country.

    Other Stories:
Inauguration Activities
ARTS: Mary Low


SERVICE: Cotter Union

Inaugurations Past

Quotes from the Inauguration

Read President Adams' speech


Based on "The Colby Difference," the inaugural celebration began with an evening of student-centered performances and demonstrations on Friday and ended with a semi-formal inaugural ball on Saturday night attended by trustees, faculty, administrators, alumni, guests and a majority of the student body–an event where Adams and his wife, Cathy Bruce, set an up-tempo pace on the dance floor.

Past presidents Robert E. L. Strider II and William R. Cotter were both on the platform at the installation ceremony, representing leadership of the College dating back to 1960. William M. Chace, president of Emory University, who worked with Adams at Stanford and Wesleyan, introduced Adams.

Activities on Friday night were planned around three themes–service (in Cotter Union), science and technology (in Dana Dining Room) and arts and humanities (in Mary Low Commons). Entertainment ranged from a handbell choir performance to the use of 3-D goggles for visualizing molecules to a walk-through scrapbook of students' community service projects.

"We wanted a way to demonstrate to visitors and to ourselves those things that make Colby distinctive and to center on the academic experience," said Dean of the College Earl Smith, chair of the inaugural planning committee. "It turned into a wonderful night that joined students and faculty together to boast about The Colby Difference. . . . It was the most interesting nontraditional aspect of what is usually a rather traditional event."

Kids took swings at pig-shaped piñatas in Foss, and the student musical group Waking the Neighbors did a set between faculty acts. In Cotter Union there was a teddy bear drive for a new children's medical center. People lined up (Adams among them) to get their photos taken with cardboard cutouts of Bro Adams and first-pig Pedro.

The three venues emptied at 10 p.m., and hundreds of people formed a phalanx behind a bagpipe band for a procession to the library steps to watch fireworks. "Everybody came together and set off in the same direction; it was a moving and very exciting moment in the College's history," Smith said. Skyrockets between the library tower and the arboretum echoed through the Kennebec valley, announcing to the College, the town and the countryside that the Adams era had begun.

The Colby Difference: The Inauguration of William D. Adams
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