With messages centering on intellectual challenge and community, President William D. Adams and two deans welcomed the Class of 2015 under sunny skies on Miller Library’s steps Aug. 30.

After parents departed, first-year students gathered for the first time as a class Tuesday afternoon. Adams, Dean of Faculty Lori Kletzer, and Dean of Students Jim Terhune spoke of the extended Colby community—from current students, faculty, and staff, to those who came before.

In their time at Colby, these The Class of 2015students will participate in the College’s bicentennial celebration. “We’ve been doing this work here with students like you for two hundred years,” said Adams. The College is a result of the commitment of members of this community over that period of time. “We hope you’ll begin to internalize that sense of commitment and understand how this is a community not only in space here in Waterville but also in time and over time, reaching back to many, many generations of Colby alumni.”

Terhune rattled off a few predecessors: Jeremiah Chaplain, who founded Colby following a trip up the Kennebec River; Mary Low, the first woman to enroll at Colby and valedictorian of the Class of 1875; Doris Kearns Goodwin ’64, one of the leading historians of her generation.

Closer to home is the community students started to experience on their first day, Adams said—a community of friendships that includes peers as well as faculty and staff. This community is built in the residential experience and in the classroom. “Of course the most important … is the wonderful, rich, fascinating educational and academic experience you’re going to have here at Colby. This is a wonderful place with lots of incredible faculty working in remarkable ways across a very interesting and complicated curriculum,” said Adams.

Focusing on the liberal arts tradition, Kletzer urged students to think deeply about their academic goals and objectives, and “to relish that the work will be difficult and push you in directions that you’re not sure you can go,” she said. “Your experience here, together with the faculty and the staff, can be truly transformative, but it takes you at the center of that.”

The students in the class have already accomplished a lot, they were told, and that was just the preface. “You are an immensely talented group of young people,” said Adams. “You have a lot to give to one another and a lot to give to us—and we know you will.

“You need to remember,” said Terhune, “that this is a community about being smart. It’s about being smart and getting smarter. It’s a community where curiosity is a virtue, a community where being intellectually engaged is cool. Embrace it. It only lasts for four years, and they go by fast.”

Following a class photo, students dispersed to meet with their Community Advisors (CAs), have dinner, and begin the orientation program that includes First Class, community engagement activities, and Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips, which depart Sept. 2.

Video of Adams, Kletzer, and Terhune are available on the president’s page.