Through a commitment of $1.25 million from Trustee Emeritus Richard Schmaltz ’62, his wife, Joan Dignam Schmaltz ’63, and their family, Colby College is launching the Schmaltz Family Effective Communication Initiative to give faculty and students a systematic curriculum designed to enhance verbal communications skills. The Schmaltz family believes that these skills are critically important for maximizing personal and professional success. The initiative is also supported by the Schmaltz’s daughter, Heide Schmaltz Dolan ’87, son, Dana Schmaltz, and granddaughter Megan Lasher ’15.
“This distinctive gift will allow Colby to create a leading program to help prepare our students for success in whatever fields they choose to pursue,” said President David A. Greene. “We are grateful to the Schmaltz family for their vision, which will have a lasting impact at Colby and on the lives of students for generations to come.”
The new program will take a systematic approach to integrating oral communication into the curriculum. Launching in fall 2019, it will include training for faculty to teach public speaking in existing courses, support distinct courses in public speaking, and facilitate workshops, events, and collaboration with other initiatives.
Mr. Schmaltz, a longtime Colby trustee, said: “At Colby we stress how we teach students to think critically, to write powerfully—the English Department has always been so strong—and our hope is that now with this initiative they’ll be able to speak with the same kind of expertise and confidence that they’ve had in critical thinking and written expression.” Mr. Schmaltz, who worked for 40 years in investment management, credits oral presentation skills for an element of his professional success.
This initiative will be tied to the recently announced data analytics initiative, which spans the disciplines at Colby, to teach students to present data effectively. It will permeate the curriculum so that all students will be impacted by it during their time at Colby.
“While the creation of new knowledge is a critical component to a liberal arts education, the ability to communicate effectively is equally important,” said Provost Margaret McFadden. “Thanks to this initiative, Colby students from all disciplines will have unprecedented opportunities to hone their oral communication skills, thereby increasing their success and impact on the world.”