Asserting “This is Colby’s moment; this is Colby’s time,” President David A. Greene called in his inaugural address for Colby to “move to a preeminent position among the world’s liberal arts colleges.” He called for the College to shape more broadly the evolution of the liberal arts for our time, and he proposed that Colby help revitalize Waterville’s historic center.
The inauguration ceremony, held outdoors on the academic quadrangle Saturday, Sept. 13, unfolded with pomp, tradition, and flags from dozens of foreign countries carried by students hailing from those lands. Greene, who had been executive vice president at the University of Chicago and took office at Colby July 1, pledged to “lift Colby to new heights” after being formally inaugurated as Colby’s 20th president by Chair of the Board of Trustees Robert E. Diamond ’73.
Proposing some initiatives to achieve his goals, Greene said, “It is our time to commit to the highest level of support for our faculty, students, and staff, and to have unwavering focus on the excellence of our programs; it is our time to fully open our campus to the greatest diversity of perspectives; it is our time to make the liberal arts more integrated with the world beyond our campus.”
“It is our time to fully open our campus to the greatest diversity of perspectives; it is our time to make the liberal arts more integrated with the world beyond our campus.”
In presenting Greene, Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, outlined serious challenges facing American higher education in decades to come. “Colby, like all institutions of higher education,” he said, “finds itself at a moment of definition for the coming decades—for itself and for the role it will play in the United States higher education system.”
“It also approaches this moment,” Zimmer said, “with the leadership of an extraordinary individual as president whose vision, strategic thought, energy, and absolute commitment to execution will, I am totally confident, help make extraordinary progress here.”
In his address Greene emphasized the importance of the 200-year partnership with Waterville. “The ingredients are here for a renaissance of this proud city,” he said, “and Colby College should partner with and support local leaders to accelerate the pace of improvements and stimulate economic growth and prosperity.”
Waterville Mayor Karen Heck ’74 was one of several dignitaries who welcomed Greene to Colby, Waterville, and Maine. “We are delighted with David Greene’s bold vision for our downtown,” she said on behalf of residents, “and for his enthusiastic commitment to continue Colby’s efforts to make Waterville the place in Maine to come for academic excellence and a quality of life that can’t be beat.”
Maine Representative Henry Beck ’09 welcomed Greene on behalf of the state of Maine; Deborah Wathen Finn ’74, chair of the Alumni Council Committee and president of the Alumni association, spoke on behalf of alumni; Nicole Veilleux, administrative secretary in athletics, extended a welcome from Colby’s staff; Justin Deckert ’15, student government president, spoke for students. Speaking for the faculty, Zacamy Professor of English Peter Harris said, “We have been heartened by your fresh perspectives and sense of possibility … [and are] eager to explore with you new arenas of aspiration.”
After being invested with the presidential medallion and a copy of the College charter from 1813 by board chair Diamond, Greene presented honorary doctoral degrees to four individuals: U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins, advisor to presidents Clinton and Obama David M. Axelrod, Harvard professor and MacArthur Fellow Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, and University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer.