WATERVILLE, ME --- The Colby College Board of Trustees, meeting in Boston on Sunday (Oct. 31) elected Bucknell University President William D. Adams to become the 19th president of Colby, beginning July 1, 2000.
Adams, president at Bucknell since March 1995, has been in university administration since 1986, at Stanford University in California, at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and at Bucknell in Pennsylvania. He received his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, at Colorado College in 1972, was a Fulbright Scholar in France in 1977 and earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1982. He began his academic career as an assistant professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Last June, Adams announced his intention to leave Bucknell to pursue new professional opportunities. He will finish the academic year there before succeeding William R. Cotter, president of Colby since 1979, who retires June 30.
James B. Crawford, chair of Colbys board of trustees, called Adams "the best candidate from a very strong pool." Crawford said, "Adams will arrive with proven experience from running a respected university, where he established a record of strong leadership in areas that reflect Colbys current priorities."
In fewer than five years under Adamss administration, Bucknells endowment more than doubled as the beneficiary of unprecedented fund-raising success and excellent investment results. The universitys faculty was expanded to lower the faculty-to-student ratio, and over the last two years Bucknell received record numbers of applicants and admitted the strongest and most diverse classes in the schools history.
Two years ago Adams completed a strategic financial plan for Bucknell, which led to a continuous planning and assessment process for the university. Crawford said that Adamss strong record on student affairs, his involvement in the local community and his commitment to diversity all are further evidence of values that Adams and Colby share.
In June, when Adams announced his intention to leave Bucknell for new challenges, he expressed a desire to re-engage his scholarly interests. In Colby he found an institution where top administrators, including Cotter, several vice presidents and all recent presidents, traditionally have taught courses.
Last January Cotter announced his pending retirement from Colby, and a search was launched the same month. From an initial pool of some 100 applicants, the college brought three finalists to the campus, each for a daylong visit in mid-October. All members of the faculty, administration, support staff and selected student leaders were invited to meet the candidates, and about 100 took the opportunity, meeting in small groups.
Crawford said the entire search process was "unusually inclusive," with 19 members on a selection committee that included trustees, faculty, administrators, students and alumni representatives. "It was more open than most college president searches," he said, "and we were extremely thorough in checking references, even visiting the campuses of the five top candidates identified last summer." The search committee unanimously recommended Adams to the trustees before Sundays official vote.
Adams and his wife, Cathy Bruce, and their son, Sean, age 10, and daughter, Carmen, age 2, will move to Waterville next summer to take up residence in the Presidents House on campus. Bruce is a former member of the U.S. Ski Team and a three-time champion on the womens professional ski racing tour.
Adams will become the chief executive of one of the nations best liberal arts colleges at a time when Colby is stronger than ever before in its 186-year history. During Cotters presidency the number of faculty members grew from 125 to 198. Colby balanced its budget all 21 years during Cotters administration and built its endowment more than 12-fold to a market value of $290 million at the end of the last fiscal year. Colbys admissions process is one of the most selective in the nation, and the college is ranked among those making the most extensive use of computers and information technology.
In Colbys most recent accreditation review, in 1997-98, the New England Association of Schools & Colleges said: "Vigorous and self-confident, Colby College is well prepared and positioned to acquire additional strength and stature in the next ten years. The visiting team recognizes the great progress the college has made and looks forward to its continued progress in the years ahead."
After June 30, Cotter will become the chief executive officer of the Oak Foundation, 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. He and his wife, Linda, who together served Colby for 21 years, have purchased a home in Concord, Mass.