William D. Adams

May 25, 2014


Honorary Degree Citation

William D. Adams. President. Champion of the liberal arts. Seeker of challenging tasks and muscle-burning climbs. You graduated from the Holderness School and enrolled in Colorado College, but your formal education was interrupted by service in the Army, including a tour in Vietnam as combat infantry advisor. You returned to Colorado serious about your studies, seriously opposed to war, and seriously engaged with questions about the nature of human life and work and thought. You earned your Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz, went to France as a Fulbright Scholar, and taught political philosophy at Santa Clara University and the University of North Carolina. You directed the Great Works program at Stanford University, joined Stanford colleague and mentor William Chace at Wesleyan University as vice president and secretary, and took up your first presidency, at Bucknell University, in 1995. You came to Colby in 2000 and initiated a strategic planning process whose fruits transformed the College. During your administration Colby has increased its financial aid resources by tens of millions of dollars, allowing the College to attract and enroll the best students regardless of their financial circumstances. Colby’s faculty has grown under your careful direction of resources, bringing many gifted teachers and scholars to Mayflower Hill. Your vision for the curriculum led to the creation of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement and the Center for the Arts and Humanities, a partnership with Bigelow Laboratory, a cinema studies program, a writing initiative, and many other innovations. The campus master plan you effected saw construction of the Colby Green and new spaces for social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities study, as well as for student life and alumni programs. The magnificent Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion and the Lunder Collection of American Art are perhaps the boldest manifestations of your dedication to the College and its progress. And with those, you have brought the world to Waterville, the city to which you also dedicated untold hours of service. You are renowned among colleagues in higher education and beyond as an extraordinarily influential and accomplished leader. You are President Barack Obama’s choice for chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a fitting post for a dedicated and eloquent advocate for the humanistic disciplines. Colby College, American higher education, and humanities organizations nationwide will forever benefit from your leadership.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, William D. Adams, the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been presented and this diploma which I place in your hand are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.

Conferred May 25, 2014


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