Speakers and honorands | 2018

Commencement Speaker: U.S. Senator Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has earned a national reputation as an effective legislator who works across party lines to seek consensus on our nation’s most important issues. She is 14th in Senate seniority, is the most senior Republican woman, and is widely considered one of the most powerful members of the Senate.

Susan Collins

For the past four consecutive years, she has ranked as the most bipartisan senator.

Senator Collins chairs the Senate Aging Committee and the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and she serves on the Intelligence Committee as well as the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Baccalaureate Speaker: Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Biennial, and the National Gallery of Art. He is founder and director of the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on culturally driven redevelopment and affordable space initiatives in under-resourced communities. A member of the faculty at University of Chicago, Gates works with the Harris School of Public Policy on issues related to creative development. He was the first artist in residence at Colby’s Lunder Institute for American Art in fall 2017, and has recently been appointed to a three-year position as the first distinguished visiting artist and director or artist initiatives, beginning in 2018.

Honorary Degree Citation

Potter, sculptor, performance artist, urban developer, and activist, you are known throughout the world for transcending boundaries among disciplines and asking the most important and unexpected questions. You create art, meaning, and space from discarded materials, and you illuminate the value of permanence in a transient and throwaway society.

Theaster Gates

Your magnetism creates community, developing ideas, connections, and artistic works that deepen our understanding of the human condition and change the landscape of American culture. You are an artist in the truest sense, living your life centered around the power of possibility.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Theaster Gates, the degree of doctor of fine arts, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Conferred May 27, 2018

Honorand: Rebecca Corbett ’74, P’09

Rebecca Corbett ’74, P’09 was senior enterprise editor at the New York Times before being named assistant managing editor in 2013. She is known for editing some of the paper’s hardest-hitting stories, most recently demonstrated through breaking the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment story. Corbett is a former trustee of Colby College and a former member of the selection committee for Colby’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism. Prior to joining the Times, she was an editor at the Baltimore Sun.

Honorary Degree Citation

Working diligently behind the scenes and holding yourself and others to exacting standards, you are a force for a more transparent, just society. You have shown us how journalism, at its very best, can awaken our culture to gross inequities, to abuse of power, and to established norms and systems that suppress the truth, protect the privileged, and erode our common bonds.

Rebecca Corbett

You have called yourself “a perpetual liberal arts student,” and the world has benefited from your intelligent and relentless pursuit of answers to essential questions of our time.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Rebecca Corbett, the degree of doctor of letters, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Conferred May 27, 2018

Gregory W. Powell

Honorand: Gregory W. Powell P’15

Gregory W. Powell P’15 is executive chairman of Dexter Enterprises, Inc., a wealth management firm, and chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, the largest charitable foundation in Maine. Under Powell’s strategic leadership, the Harold Alfond Foundation has funded many initiatives to ensure the strength of Maine’s families, communities, and institutions, including programs to support the creation of education savings accounts for all children born in Maine, loan forgiveness for graduates of STEM fields working in the state, and access to high-quality health care for Maine’s people. Powell is a native of Waterville, Maine.

Honorary Degree Citation

A loyal champion for the people of Maine, you have stewarded Harold Alfond’s vision through one transformative initiative after another, ensuring that opportunity is not a privilege for the few but a right for all.

Gregory Powell

Your unique combination of intellectual curiosity, insightful discernment, and support for teamwork has brought to life countless new projects, the results of which will be felt for generations. A proud son of Waterville, you have remained true to your home, inspiring others to see the possibility you know exists and maintaining a steadfast commitment to the common good.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Gregory W. Powell, the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Conferred May 27, 2018

Commencement 2018

Commencement Contact

Colby College Logo