Huffington and Jarrett Speak Commencement Weekend

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post website boldly led the way into the digital media age, will deliver the address at Colby College’s 195th Commencement on Sunday, May 22. She will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree at the ceremony. Cofounder of the namesake news site, Huffington closely oversees what has become the model for digital delivery of global news and information.

Valerie_Jarrett_official_portrait_small (2)_CMYKValerie B. Jarrett, who, as senior advisor to President Barack Obama, has shaped national policy and the administration’s legislative agenda, was to address Colby seniors at the College’s baccalaureate on May 21. A trusted confidante to both the President and to First Lady Michelle Obama, Jarrett has served in the administration since 2009.

Also receiving honorary degrees will be Lars Peter Hansen, Nobel-winning economist and leading expert in economic dynamics, and Edison T. Liu, president and CEO of the Jackson Laboratory.
More at


The percentage of applicants offered admission in March to the Class of 2020. The students were chosen from the largest (9,833) and most diverse and academically prepared pool of applicants in Colby history, said Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Matt Proto.

After Colby

Colby Career Center

The renovated and expanded Grossman building will be home to the Colby Career Center, beginning in fall 2017. The former Tau Delta Phi fraternity house will offer career counseling spaces, interview rooms, and offices. The two-story addition will house a resource library and meeting rooms.

Zapatella Davisae

zapatella davisae

That’s the name bestowed on the wasp above to honor Monica Davis ’13, who determined that the gall wasp zapatella davisae is its own species. Davis is perhaps the leading authority on biological and pesticide control of her namesake. The Ph.D. candidate at UMass Amherst is studying invasive insects, including a type of gall wasp that kills trees in New England and New York. She realized that one wasp was misidentified and was actually a new species. Taxonomists decided to name that new species for its discoverer, whose dissertation is devoted to the behavior, community dynamics, molecular systematics, biological control, and pesticide control of zapatella davisae.

When the Fed Talks …

Eric Rosengren '79

The financial press was all ears when President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Eric Rosengren ’79, P’12 spoke on monetary policy at Colby in February. Rosengren, who was subsequently elected chair of the Board of Trustees, spoke on “Prospects for Returning to More Conventional Monetary Policy.” Rosengren’s talk, streamed live via webcast, attracted global media, including Bloomberg News, MarketWatch, and the Fiscal Times. Students got unfettered access to the Boston Fed chief when he visited classes to discuss monetary policy.

Maya Lin in Residence on Mayflower Hill

Maya Lin

The renowned artist, architect, and environmental activist delivered the Miles and Katharine Culbertson Prentice Distinguished Lecture in a packed Lorimer Chapel in April as Colby’s first artist in residence in a series initiated by President David A. Greene. The lecture connected with the College’s 2015-16 humanities theme Human/Nature, as Lin spoke about her ongoing project What is Missing?, “a global memorial to the planet,” which proposes that we look at a memorial not as a static object but as a work with multiple forms and sites.

Tenure Times Six

Tenure Six

Six accomplished professors who have demonstrated excellence in the classroom, in their scholarship, and in service to the College have been awarded tenure.

“This is a group of exemplary scholars and teachers,” President David A. Greene said. “Their dedication to their students, involvement in the College community, and their own scholarly achievements reflect why Colby is known for outstanding faculty who connect with students in ways that ultimately transform lives.”

Colby’s new tenured faculty members are top, left to right: Syed Tariq Ahmad, biology; Annie Kloppenberg, theater and dance; Jennifer Coane, psychology; bottom, left to right: Keith Peterson, philosophy; Winifred Tate, anthropology; and Stephanie Taylor, computer science.


The number of central Maine high school students receiving twice-weekly SAT prep tutoring from Colby student mentors. The high school students and their Colby coaches meet on campus for dinner in the dining halls, followed by intensive instruction. In its first year on campus, the sessions are offered through Let’s Get Ready, a nonprofit funded in part by The Harold Alfond Foundation and supported by the College.

2016 Faculty Retirees

G. Calvin Mackenzie, Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government, arrived at Colby in 1978 after earning degrees at Bowdoin, Tufts, and Harvard, and further education provided by a combat tour with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. His book, The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s, cowritten with Christian A. Johnson Distinguished Teaching Professor of History Robert Weisbrot, was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in History.

Debra A. Aitken, like her runners, put up some very impressive numbers as women’s cross country and track and field coach. Aitken was NESCAC coach of the year in 2004 and 2005 and NCAA regional coach of the year in 2004, an honor that recognized her teams’ consistently strong performance. Her cross country athletes won NESCAC titles in 1986 and 1994 and racked up 14 Maine championships, including nine in the last 12 years.

F. Russell Cole arrived on Mayflower Hill in 1977 as assistant professor of biology and helped to shape the College’s presence in the sciences for nearly 40 years. As Oak Professor of Biological Sciences, Cole taught a variety of biology and ecology courses and also was key to environmental studies. He brought millions of dollars in science funding to Colby, including the $6.4 million Olin Foundation grant that resulted in the Olin Science Center, where he taught.

Susan Westerberg Cole helped generations of Colby science faculty and students pursue their studies and research beginning in 1978 as science librarian. Cole helped design the library in Olin (which opened in 1996), expanded the science library four-fold to 10,000 square feet, and played a key role in the College’s continuing growth in the sciences.

Natalie B. Harris taught literature and creative writing at Colby since 1978, when she joined the faculty fresh from the Ph.D. program at Indiana University. Associate professor since 1988, she moved steadily toward fiction, both in her teaching and writing, and focused on creative writing for the last third of her career.

David H. Mills ’57 attended Colby as an undergraduate and earned master’s degrees at Illinois and Harvard. His passion for directing and acting (he was a member of the Harvard Summer Players) pointed him to Rome, where he worked in the movie business and with a touring theater company. Mills returned to Colby to teach in 1980, and was popular for his speech classes and debate teams.

Mark R. Serdjenian ’73 arrived on Mayflower Hill as an English major and soccer player and returned in 1976 to coach men’s soccer for 38 years. He stepped down as men’s soccer coach after the 2013 season as the longest-serving head coach in NESCAC. The former goalkeeper compiled a 261-230-46 record as coach and led the Mules to Eastern College Athletic Conference New England titles.

Star Power

Collins Observatory

Collins Observatory,  at its new location atop Runnals Hill, offers lower light pollution, a better view of the sky to the south and east, and a larger classroom. This fall a larger .7-meter telescope will be installed, made possible by a gift from a Colby family.

“Once we get things moving, a lot of other dominoes will fall.”

—President David A. Greene, quoted in a Boston Globe story about Colby’s role in the revitalization of downtown Waterville.

Regular updates on the initiative are available at


The number of participants/locations/hours for Colby Cares Day, April 30. Colby athletic teams ran separate clinics for soccer and field hockey, and the Outing Club offered outdoors activities for area kids. The tradition continued for members of the Class of 2015, as well, as former Colby Volunteer Center director Meghan Harwood ’15 led a Colby alumni crew cleaning up Heron Park in San Francisco.

Nobody Better

Maravilla Clemens ’16 and Alex Heisler ’16 won the Richard J. Borden Award for best student conference paper after presenting their research, “Cultivating Conservation in the Lake Tana Basin: Implications of a New UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Model for Ecosystems and Livelihoods,” at the 2016 Society for Human Ecology conference in Santa Ana, Calif., April 14. Their study used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to examine historical changes in land use and riparian forest cover in the newly established Lake Tana Biosphere Reserve in northern Ethiopia. Contrasting declassified U.S. government aerial photographs from 1964 to 1967 with present-day U.S. Geological Survey Landsat satellite imagery revealed widespread deforestation and vegetation loss over the past 50 years.

Huerta: “Make it Happen”

Dolores Huerta

Civil rights activist and legendary labor leader Dolores Huerta delivered the keynote address for S.H.O.U.T! March 3 and encouraged students to “show up and make it happen” when working to confront social injustices. Huerta, who cofounded the United Farm Workers (UFW) in 1962 and now advocates for civil, children’s, and women’s rights, offered suggestions for how citizens can “take power to get the country on the right track.”

“This is the biggest thing that humans have ever done and by a very large margin, and we simply have to stop it at all costs. We have to figure how to slow it down before it breaks everything around us. That’s the bad part. (Breathe now. Breathe for a minute.) The good part is we know very good and well what we need to do to deal with this. We didn’t know that 25 years ago.”

—Environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, in his keynote address April 7 to begin the three-day Colby conference Community, Culture, and Conservation: Sustaining Livelihoods and Landscapes.

Watson Fellow to Study Midwifery

Parwana Mohammad ’16 was awarded a $30,000 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for independent study outside the United States during the year following her graduation this May. Her project, titled “The Experience of Childbirth and the Role of Midwives within Historically Marginalized Communities,” will take her to Brazil, New Zealand, Guatemala, and the Czech Republic.

Mohammad’s research project was one of 40 selected in this year’s round of Watson awards.

It’s a 3!

Patrick Stewart ’16 was the top three-point shooter in NCAA Division III men’s basketball this year. Stewart shot a blistering 52.3 percent from three-point range and was the lone Division III player in the country over 50 percent while playing in at least 75 percent of the games. Stewart was 67-for-128 in 24 games.

Sun Screen

Solar Array

More than 5,000 solar panels will be installed on Colby’s campus with site work beginning in May as the College launches a 1.9-megawatt photovoltaic energy project. The photovoltaic panels will be arrayed on nine acres of land at the southwest corner of campus between Washington Street and Interstate 95 around the storage building and Colby community gardens.

The installation, which will begin generating in late fall, is expected to produce 2.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, approximately 16 percent of the College’s electricity needs.

Boulos Named Life Trustee

Joe Boulos '68

Joe Boulos ’68 in Boston, Mass., Oct. 2016

Longtime Colby supporter Joseph F. Boulos ’68, LL.D. ’09 has been named a life trustee of the College, in recognition of more than three decades of service.

Boulos, president of the Boulos Companies, a commercial real estate firm based in Portland, Maine, joins a small circle of Colby supporters who have been honored as life trustees, including Paula Crane Lunder, M.A. ’98, D.F.A. ’98, James B. Crawford ’64, M.A. ’90, LL.D. ’05, and the late Lawrence R. Pugh ’56, M.A. ’82, LL.D. ’99.

First named an overseer of the College in 1991, Boulos joined the Board of Trustees two years later and was immediately struck by the shared purpose of his fellow board members. “When you sit on that board and you look around and see the success stories at that table—it’s a cliché but everybody checks their ego at the door,” he said. “It’s all about the institution.”

Boulos said the education he received as an undergraduate at Colby has continued with his involvement with the Board of Trustees, including former and present members. “I would never have met the Larry Pughs, the Edson Mitchells, the Bob Diamonds, the Jim Crawfords, the Paul Schupfs without my connection to Colby,” he said.

In some ways, the College’s growth into a global institution in the last half-century reflects his own growth as he worked on behalf of his alma mater, he said. Boulos recalled knowing little about art when he visited the Colby museum as a new overseer. Now he serves as a commissioner of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. “Colby opened up the world to me,” he said. “The intellectual stimulation and the connections through these people changed my life.”

His years of involvement with the College have been marked by support of the Boulos Family Fitness Center, the Colby College Museum of Art, and Colby’s “no-loan” financial aid policy, which was instituted when he was board chair. Boulos said that over those years, Colby has been notable for the selflessness of leadership, “from Bill Cotter to Bro Adams to David Greene. Every one of those people are really about the students.”

Colby Loses a Great Leader

Larry and Jean Pugh

Larry ’56 and Jean Van Curan Pugh ’55 at the Davis Science Center dedication, July 2014

Larry Pugh ’56, hailed as “one of Colby’s great leaders” by President David A. Greene, died Dec. 3 in Naples, Fla., at 82. “For those of us charged with leading this great college and ensuring its success well into the future, Larry was a guiding light,” Greene said in a message to the Colby community. “We all looked for his discerning judgment and compelling insights when the challenges were greatest. He never failed to deliver in those moments.”

Lawrence R. Pugh ’56, LL.D. ’99, P’80, GP’07, ’10 was a life trustee at Colby, having joined the board in 1982. He was chair of the Board of Trustees from 1991 to 1999, and he contributed to Colby in extraordinary ways and measures. His gifts to his alma mater included the immeasurable time he invested, the leadership he provided, many generous financial gifts, and two subsequent generations of his family who graduated from Colby—a daughter and two grandsons.

“He is truly the gold standard,” said Robert E. Diamond Jr. ’73, LL.D. ’08, P’12, chair of the Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2016, applying that assessment to “everything about the Board of Trustees, his leadership of Colby, his passion for the school, his vision for what Colby is but also what Colby can be. Most importantly it was his leadership—his ability to take a very diverse group of people and build consensus.”

A member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Pugh chaired the special trustee commission that in 1983 unanimously recommended the abolishment of fraternities and sororities at Colby. He proceeded to build near-unanimous support for the transition from a fraternity-based system for social life to a residential commons system that promoted reconciliation after the decision. Life Trustee and former board chair Joseph Boulos ’68, LL.D. ’09 recalled, “He handled it with such dignity and fairness that, although it was unbelievably disruptive, it was a turning point in Colby’s history.”

Pugh remained a vital force and a quiet leader through the October trustee meetings this academic year. “I think he’d be very pleased to see how quickly we are moving forward on a number of initiatives,” said Trustee Betsy Morgan ’90. “I think he would have that sort of soft chuckle and smile and would say to all of us, ‘You are headed exactly where I knew all of you would be headed,’” she said, reminiscing about Pugh in January.

During much of his time as a Colby trustee, Pugh was chairman and CEO of VF Corporation, at the time a $5-billion-a-year global apparel and footwear company

that included such brands as Lee, Wrangler, and JanSport. A proud U.S. Army veteran, he was president of Samsonite Luggage, director of Black & Decker, and chairman of UNUM before leading VF Corporation.

He was involved in countless civic and charitable institutions as well, including work with the Alfond Scholarship Foundation, which has started college funds by giving $500 to each of more than 50,000 Maine babies.

“He is truly the gold standard.”—Robert E. Diamond Jr. ’73, LL.D. ’08, P’12, former chair of the Board of Trustees

The most visible of Pugh’s many financial gifts to Colby include the endowed Pugh Family Professorship in Economics and the Pugh Center, a central location for programs, activities, and learning opportunities that promote intercultural communication and understanding. In addition to the 1999 honorary doctor of laws degree from Colby, Pugh received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1986, the Colby Brick Award in 1996, and both the C Club Person of the Year Award and the Marriner Distinguished Service Award in 1999.

Pugh is survived by his wife, Jean Van Curan Pugh ’55, LL.D. ’99, daughter Deborah Pugh Kelton ’80 and her husband, William Kelton, daughter Diane Pugh Esecson and her husband, Matt Esecson, and grandsons Tucker Kelton ’07, Joshua Kelton ’10, Austin Esecson, and Kyle Esecson.