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Best-selling novelist, leading academic, and nationally known advocate for civil rights Jennifer Finney Boylan has been appointed special advisor to the president, Colby President David A. Greene announced today. In this new role Boylan will organize a visiting-artist-in-residence program, develop internship opportunities for Colby students, consult with the president and senior leadership team on broadening and deepening the diversity conversation at Colby, and engage with alumni on occasional events.
“Jenny Boylan’s deep and important history at Colby and her leadership on issues central to the College’s priorities make her ideal for this role,” said Greene. “As a professor here for 26 years, Jenny has made a tremendous impact on the thousands of students in the Creative Writing Program and beyond. She will have freedom in this new role to help us shape programs that will strengthen our community, attract extraordinary writers and artists to Colby, and provide our students with a rich set of postgraduate opportunities.” The appointment is effective July 1, 2015.
Boylan joined the Colby faculty in 1988; in 2000 she was chosen by the senior class to receive the Charles Walker Bassett Teaching Award. That same year she came out as transgender, wrote the bestselling memoir She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders (Broadway/Doubleday/Random House, 2003), and became a national spokesperson on civil rights issues. During her time on the faculty at Colby she served as program director for creative writing; oversaw the Visiting Writers’ Series; and served as adviser to The Bridge, Colby’s all-inclusive queer and ally student-run club. She is the national co-chair of the Board of Directors of GLAAD, the media advocacy group for LGBT people worldwide, and also serves on the board of trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Since 2013 she has been a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.
In 2014 Barnard President Debora Spar appointed her the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University, a chair she will continue to hold in years to come. “My position at Barnard is spectacular—the job of a lifetime, with remarkable students and inspiring colleagues. And I will always be connected to the Colby community, where so many of our friends are, where we raised our children, where I was blessed to work with a whole generation of young writers,” she said. “President Greene’s offer seemed almost too good to be true—a new way to continue my work at Barnard while also contributing to Colby’s remarkable academic community and deep commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
One of Boylan’s primary responsibilities will be to bring a range of accomplished individuals to Colby’s campus, including creative artists, broadly defined, and guest speakers to contribute to conversations about diversity. Working with alumni and others, she will create a set of internships in the publishing, journalism, and advocacy fields.
This year Wesleyan University named Boylan a distinguished alumna for her work “illuminating what it means to be human and inspiring so many to have the courage to be themselves.” She has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Live with Larry King, the Today Show, the Barbara Walters Special, NPR’s Marketplace, and Talk of the Nation. Boylan has also been the subject of documentaries on CBS News’s 48 Hours and the History Channel. She lives in New York City and Belgrade Lakes, Maine, with her wife, Deedie, and their two sons, Zach and Sean.
Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges. Serving only undergraduates, Colby offers a rigorous academic program rooted in deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars. Students pursue intellectual passions, choosing among 57 majors or developing their own. Independent and collaborative research, study abroad, and internships offer robust opportunities to prepare students for postgraduate success. Colby is home to a community of 1,850 dedicated and diverse students from around the globe. Its Maine location provides easy access to world-class research institutions and civic engagement experiences. David A. Greene became Colby’s 20th president in 2014.