An Appeal to the Friends of Literature, Science, and Religion

Colby Bicentennial Seal 1813-1863

Aug. 11, 1840

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Debt Crisis

Declining enrollment and burdensome debt accompanied the resignation of President Robert Pattison in 1839. He was not immediately replaced. Instead a fundraising campaign obtained commitments of $10,000 from citizens of Waterville, on the condition that the College raise another $50,000 elsewhere. Professor George Keely led the effort by example, foregoing half his salary and leading faculty in fundraising efforts.

Having launched a $10,000 subscription campaign The Trustees resolved that it is not expedient to elect a President of the College at this meeting–for the reason that until the College is relieved from its pecuniary embarrassment and its finances are in the prosperous condition which it had just reason to expect that they will obtain within a few months, we cannot offer those conclusive and satisfactory assurances of permanent support, which we desire to present to candidates suitably qualified, which they have a just right to expect.

The Board reported “great satisfaction” in the results already obtained. By appeals to the liberality of the friends of literature, science and religion in this state and entertain a strong conviction that that sum of 50,000 dollars originally contemplated to be raised will be obtained and to this end the trustees solicit the aid of the friends of learning in other states to whom they pledge their unceasing extertions for the furtherance of the best interests of the College.

Trustees voted that Professor Keely be required to perform the duties of President of the College until a President be elected.

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