|Date: May 12, 2000
Contact: Alicia MacLeay
Phone: (207) 872-3220
Cotters Last Colby College Commencement, May 21
Outgoing Colby College president William R. Cotter and his wife, Linda K. Cotter, who together have served the college for 21 years, will receive honorary degrees on Sunday, May 21, at the 179th commencement at Colby in Waterville, Maine. Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, will address more than 480 members of Colbys Class of 2000, their families, the faculty and guests.
Commencement will begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library. The public is welcome at the outdoor graduation, but tickets will be required if weather requires moving the program to the Alfond Athletic Center. Honorary degrees will be presented to Marshall, African-American art authority David C. Driskell and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder.
Ryan M. Jennerich of Morganville, N.J., this years valedictorian and class marshal, will lead the procession of seniors. A physics and mathematics-mathematical sciences double-major, he had a 4.01 cumulative grade-point average prior to the awarding of grades for the final semester and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Erik D. Bowie of Carbondale, Colo., was elected by his classmates to address the convocation as the senior class speaker. Bowie is an English major with a creative writing concentration and a performing arts minor. At Colby he is a member of Colby Improv and has participated in college theater productions.
Cotter, inaugurated in 1979, will retire effective June 30. Beginning in July he will become the chief executive officer of the Oak Foundation in Boston, an international philanthropic foundation that commits its resources to issues of global social and environmental concerns, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.
Cotter has served longer than any previous president since the liberal arts college was chartered in 1813. During his term, Colbys endowment has increased more than tenfold, more than 20 buildings have been built or substantially expanded, and Colbys reputation among the nations best private liberal arts colleges has improved. All this was achieved with a balanced budget in every year of his presidency.
At Colby Cotter directed adoption of a revolutionary residential life program in the mid-1980s, when Colby withdrew recognition of fraternities. His insistence on international education helped to build one of the strongest study-abroad programs in the nation. His work on behalf of diversity has seen the number of women and minorities on the faculty double, and his focus on competitive faculty salaries helped Colby maintain and recruit an outstanding community of teaching scholars.
Cotter came to Colby from The African-American Institute, based in New York. Prior to that he worked on international programs for the Ford Foundation and as an MIT Fellow. He has lived in Nigeria, Colombia and Venezuela as well as in the United States. He earned a bachelors degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard College and a J.D. degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School. He was a White House Fellow in 1965-66.
While Colbys president he served as a director and chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, was a member of the congressionally appointed National Commission on Responsibilities for Financing Post-Secondary Education and in 1993 was named Educator of the Year by The Washington Center.
In addition to his work at Colby, he has taken an active role in community affairs as a founding member of the Mid State Economic Development Corporation and the Waterville Regional Arts and Community Center, among other initiatives. He is a member of the New York Bar and the United States Supreme Court Bar.
Image Requests: A digital image of Margaret Marshall can be downloaded here. Contact Alicia MacLeay by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (207) 872-3220 to have the image sent by e-mail or a photo sent by mail.