From the Director…

Each winter, just a few weeks after our camping gear is stowed away for the year, my wife Christine and I chart the family’s next summer adventure.  Last year, instead of heading west as we had done in the three previous summers, we planned a trip to Maine.  Dan Shea

After a few days in the mid-coast area, we headed up the interstate.  At one point we passed an exit for Waterville and, as my kids listened to their IPhones, Christine and I chatted about Colby College.  As a passionate advocate of residential, liberal arts education, I was certainly familiar with the school’s reputation of top-notch students and world-class teacher/scholars.  As someone doing work on public affairs I was aware of the Goldfarb Center, and as a scholar of American politics I knew of Cal Mackenzie, Tony Corrado, and Sandy Maisel.  What an impressive institution!

We could hardly have imagined that just one year later I would be hard at work in the Diamond Building – as the new director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement.  

Prior to our move to Colby, I was a professor of political science and director of the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College, in Meadville, Pa.  My teaching and scholarship centers on American politics; most of my books and articles explore party dynamics, campaigns and elections, and youth political engagement.

Shortly after the 2000 election, when youth election turnout reached record lows, I opened the Center for Political Participation.  A generation divorced from politics is something to fret about. During my decade with the CPP, we developed programs for our students and for the broader community.  We also conducted some research that caught national media attention – particularly the call for local party leaders to pay more attention to young voters and our efforts to highlight declining civility in politics.

We enjoyed our days in Meadville but did not hesitate to join the Goldfarb team.  From the very beginning I was impressed by the center’s mission.  It also did not take long to figure out that the staff is excellent, and that the network of faculty, students, alumni, and other friends of the center is incredibly broad and eager to lend a hand.  

I must confess, however, that a very important part of my decision to move to Colby was the steadfast support of the Goldfarb Center by the leadership of the College, especially President William Adams and Dean of the Faculty Lori Kletzer.  They recognize that helping students, faculty, and staff better appreciate the civic mission of higher education is important, and that the center can make a real difference in the community.  They know that confronting important developments in public affairs is a critical aspect of liberal education, as is seeking innovative ways to engage students.

I also had the opportunity to have several conversations with Bill Goldfarb.  His kindness, generous spirit, and determination to advance initiatives that can change the lives of students is palpable.  On a more personal note, I have appreciated the kind hand that Bill has extended during our move.

One of my aims for the center in the coming months is to listen and learn.  The Goldfarb team has developed an array of impressive programs – initiatives that have been successful and will certainly remain an important part of the programming.  Below you will find some links to events in the coming months.

But we will also explore new opportunities.  I am particularly interested in broadening our work in the community, developing new student research programs, exploring international programming, and looking at all sorts of interdisciplinary events.  I conceive of “public affairs” and “civic engagement” in broad, inclusive ways, and so I expect our programming will head in some new, exciting directions.

I am very eager to touch base with as many friends of the Goldfarb Center as possible.  Please feel free to call or write, and do make sure to stop by my office if you are on campus.  We are starting to plan some off-campus gatherings for the coming year, and I hope you will join us when possible.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank Sandy Maisel for pulling together such an impressive operation and for his unflinching support during the transition.  He will be away from campus during the year, but he assures me that he stands ready to help – for which I am grateful.

I am so pleased to be at Colby College.  I look forward to meeting you!

Best regards,


Daniel M. Shea

Professor of Government and Director of the Goldfarb Center

We are looking forward to a number of exciting events in the coming month. Among them:

Will There Be An Occupy 2.0?
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. in Page Commons
Todd Gitlin, an American writer, sociologist, communications scholar, novelist, poet, and not-very-private intellectual, is the author of 15 books, including the recently released Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street. Gitlin’s talk will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the Occupy movement, the ways it has helped shape the presidential campaign, and how the movement might follow up in a political environment it has helped transform. Cosponsored by the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement and the Departments of Anthropology and Sociology.

Meet Zandile Nhlengetwa: Faculty-Staff Welcome Reception for the 2012 Oak Fellow
Thursday, Sept. 13, 4:30 p.m. in the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center
The Oak Institute will host a reception (with food and drink) to welcome our 2012 Oak Fellow, Zandile Nhlengetwa, who will be in residence at Colby for the fall semester. All faculty, staff, and community members are encouraged to attend, especially those who have been involved with Oak in the past and anyone interested in becoming involved in the future. Professor Ken Rodman, director of the Oak Institute, will introduce Nhlengetwa, who will also offer brief remarks. 

Oak Institute Event: Welcome Address by 2012 Oak Fellow Zandile Nhlengtwa
Thursday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building 
The Oak Institute is pleased to welcome Zandile Nhlengetwa of South Africa as the 2012 Oak Human Rights Fellow, who will give her first formal public talk. She is the principal of Ulusda School in KwaZulu-Natal, a place of learning for young people, as well as a community center that organizes adults around issues such as gender inequity, sexual abuse, and violence. In a community marked not only by poverty but patriarchy and violence, Nhlengetwa works tirelessly to persuade families to allow their daughters to attend classes, and to encourage their sons to study rather than join local gangs or militia. A dedicated human rights activist and survivor of political violence facing significant personal risk, Nhlengetwa has received numerous threats, and local police have reported, not always sympathetically, these come from individuals who believe she has “interfered with people’s customs and culture.”

Colby Democrats/Republicans Debate
Thursday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building 
A debate between the Colby Democrats and Colby Republicans addressing their views on which 2012 candidate would make the best president. Topics will cover the candidates’ stances on the economy, the deficit, healthcare, energy, and foreign policy. Cosponsored by the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement and Outside Colby.

Finally, we would like to welcome Judy Brody back to Colby in the interim capacity of assistant director of the Goldfarb Center. Brody had a distinguished career in Colby Admissions and will be filling Barbara Spangle’s role for the fall semester. Additionally, the Goldfarb Center would like to welcome Colin Thurston Spangle into the world. Congratulations, Barb and Paul!