Celebrating its bicentennial in 2013, Colby enters the search for its 20th president at a unique moment of reflection and aspiration.
Colby’s history is threaded with acts of determination, conviction, and the occasional help of a miracle. Those forces have created one of the finest institutions of its kind in the world—one that never in its 200 years paused in the pursuit of excellence. As our third century begins, we seek a leader who will understand our proud past and help shape an ambitious vision for our promising future.
Ever since Jeremiah Chaplin sailed up the Kennebec River in 1818, the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Colby have exhibited an uncommon determination to ensure that the College lives up to—and exceeds—the bold promise set forth by its intrepid founders. Today the Colby community includes men and women from around the world who remain deeply connected by a shared love for this remarkable place.
Emphasizing both teaching and research, Colby attracts faculty members who care deeply about the transformative experiences that happen in the classroom and about advancing the scholarship in their diverse fields. Professors collaborate with students on research and develop strong bonds that last beyond graduation. Members of the faculty across many disciplines are leaders in their fields, both within academe and through local, state, national, and international engagement.
Colby students are all one would imagine—accomplished, committed, engaged, passionate—and more. They are serious about academic pursuits, and they are involved in co-curricular clubs, teams, lessons, and recreation. Students often are the impetus for major change on campus in areas such as environmental sustainability, social justice, and human rights. Whether from Maine or Malaysia, they enrich the educational experience for their peers and for their professors.
Tight community bonds formed on Mayflower Hill last lifetimes. Colby graduates are connected to each other and to their alma mater. Colby’s alumni network is robust and active. It connects students to internships and jobs year after year. Alumni succeed in graduate programs and in the workplace, and they become leaders in communities throughout the world.
Among thousands of degree-granting institutions in the United States, few match Colby for longevity. As the 12th-oldest independent liberal arts school in the nation, we understand, as few colleges can, the necessity of preserving the best of our historical traditions and the need to remain culturally and academically relevant. This balance informs intellectual life at the College and helps produce graduates who make profound impacts in their fields and their communities.
Founded in 1813 as the Maine Theological and Literary Institution and as the 33rd chartered college in the United States, Colby initially focused on educating teachers and preachers. Colby dropped theology from its name in 1821 and has long been an independent college committed to the fundamentals of liberal arts education. Students graduate with tools to succeed throughout their lives and to make a difference in the world.
Over the course of 200 years, Colby’s commitment to the liberal arts has not wavered. Students pursue coursework and combine majors and minors that span the academic spectrum. Colby’s courses are rigorous, and professors demand students’ commitment and engagement. In the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary programs, Colby’s curriculum is traditional yet innovative and relevant to our rapidly changing world.
Colby’s campus, on Mayflower Hill, is regarded as one of the nation’s most beautiful. It encompasses 714 acres including 63 buildings and a 128-acre arboretum. In 2013 the College achieved carbon neutrality, an emblem of its core value of environmental sustainability. Contributing initiatives included use of all renewable electricity sources, biomass for heating, and wide implementation of LEED standards in new construction and renovations projects.
Our reach may be global, but the College is marked with a profound sense of place. Our history is united with our home, Waterville, a regional center of commerce, culture, and medicine. Life at Colby is inspired and enriched by Maine’s natural beauty, and our location in New England connects us with some of the nation’s most distinguished institutions of higher learning.
Maine is a great place to live, in all four seasons. Cities are manageable but vibrant; Portland, an hour away, boasts equity theater, music, a well-known foodie scene, the Old Port Exchange, and the Maine Mall. Villages and Acadia National Park beckon on the coast. For those who love mountains, the Appalachian Trail ends on Mt. Katahdin, and Sugarloaf, Saddleback, and Sunday River ski resorts are nearby. Storied rivers and lakes abound. And then there’s L.L. Bean.
Just off Interstate 95, Colby overlooks a city of 16,000 residents and the hub for the region’s 63,000 people. Town-gown relations are strong. The College contributes extensively to area cultural offerings, and students, faculty, and staff serve in numerous volunteer capacities. Colby’s president is traditionally among the most influential area leaders. A new FIS-certified Nordic ski course is adjacent to campus, and the Belgrade Lakes region is within commuting distance.
Though the New England Small College Athletic Conference was established to oversee athletic competition, the acronym signifies a peer group of colleges and universities sometimes referred to as “the Little Ivies.” Eleven highly selective liberal arts schools formed the NESCAC in 1971 with shared commitment “first and foremost to academic excellence and [the belief] that our athletic programs must always support our educational mission.”
Colby has a long history of prudent and efficient management coupled with an audacious vision of what we have yet to become. These traits—time and again—have helped us weather wars, social upheaval, and economic stresses only to emerge even stronger and better. As Colby embarks on its third century, it does so on extraordinarily solid footing.
Colby’s Reaching the World campaign, which concluded in 2010, raised $376 million, including $100 million for the endowment. It brought in $54 million for financial aid and enabled strategic faculty hires to strengthen areas of distinction and to embrace areas of growing interest. The Colby Fund yields $6 million per year in annual gifts, with a 43-percent alumni participation rate. That and capital fundraising brought Colby $20.7 million in gifts during FY2012.
Colby’s FY2014 operating budget is $148 million. The endowment was $600 million June 30, 2012, and in the past four years net endowment per student increased 38 percent, compared to a 33-percent average in NESCAC. Colby’s endowment spending rate (below 5 percent) is conservative, and its debt level is the lowest in NESCAC. In 2011 Colby received an A2a rating from Moody’s based on “excellent market position, strong and conservative fiscal management producing consistently healthy operating performance.”
Colby’s Board of Trustees comprises 35 members from various professional backgrounds and locations and includes alumni, parents of current and past students, and friends of the College. Though not part of the formal governance structure, trustees emeriti, Colby overseers, the Alumni Council, and the Parents Executive Committee advise the president and administration. The senior administrative staff includes seven vice presidents.
Colby’s future holds an extraordinary opportunity for a leader who understands the urgency of the pursuit of excellence in all its facets, who can lead in a manner that will compel and inspire all of our constituencies, who demonstrates boldly the values of Colby and of liberal arts education, and who will derive intense satisfaction from helping to chart the course forward for this remarkable institution.
Where We Stand
Colby’s next president will find academically talented, increasingly diverse students; professors committed to excellent teaching and collaboration; an innovative approach to student life; trustees who work collegially with the president and senior staff; enthusiastic alumni and parents; a committed staff; a host city with deep ties and good relations; a setting of unparalleled natural beauty; and counterparts in the NESCAC who are themselves in the early stages of their presidencies.
Opportunities and Challenges
The new president must be an advocate for the liberal arts. She or he will be a leader in developing, articulating, and championing a shared vision for Colby’s distinctiveness, committed to strengthening further global connections, expanded access, and the academic profile and diversity of the student body. She or he will enhance Colby’s solid financial foundation, will lead programmatic growth, and will maintain strong relationships with external constituencies.
Candidates must embrace Colby’s distinctive culture and inspire faculty, students, staff, alumni, and trustees. They must be passionate advocates for liberal arts education with records of strategic leadership in higher education or a comparable setting. They will need a strong fundraising track record, rapport with students, commitment to diversity and inclusion, skills to communicate genuinely with all constituents, and a strong work ethic.