Letter to Families

March 29, 2010

Dear Colby Families,

As March comes to a close and the College prepares to extend offers of admission to prospective members of the Class of 2014, it is once again time for me to write one of my least popular letters of the year—the announcement of the comprehensive fee for the next academic year.

The Board of Trustees has set the comprehensive fee for the 2010-2011 academic year at $51,990. This is 3.32 percent, or $1,670, higher than the current comprehensive fee, and it represents the smallest annual increase since 1975. I also believe that it compares favorably to increases announced at comparable institutions.

Why is Colby raising the comprehensive fee at a time of great national economic difficulty and, for many of our families, personal financial hardship? The simple answer is that providing the world-class liberal arts education Colby offers is expensive, and it grows more so each year.

Some of Colby's increasing expenses are familiar to you, such as higher energy prices and the rising cost of providing medical insurance and other benefits to our faculty and staff. Many are less obvious. At a time when many household-name institutions are trimming academic offerings and laying off the faculty members who make them possible, Colby remains committed to hiring the best faculty available and protecting the excellence of the academic program.

While we continue to focus on the core of the educational experience and program, we have been careful to constrain other areas of expense. Non-compensation operating budgets across the College will remain flat again next year, and compensation increases will be modest. With the exception of renovating the Goddard-Hodgkins residence hall, which will improve the quality of life for students, we will continue to postpone major capital building projects until the overall economic climate improves.

I know that receiving this letter with its news of another increase in Colby's comprehensive fee is unlikely to be a happy experience for anyone. I have written enough of these letters over the years to know that I will hear from some of you directly—perhaps quite forcefully—to express your dismay at the cost of a Colby education. As the parent of a college student, I understand your concerns. But I also know that in our complex world, a Colby education, with its roots in life-changing relationships between students and faculty and its emphases on critical thinking, analysis, and effective communication, is an investment that will provide a lifetime of rewards.



William D. Adams