Prof. Nikky-Guninder K. Singh

“Your liberal arts education, your experience at Colby, is more urgent than ever.”

—Crawford Family Professor of Religion Nikky-Guninder K. Singh, addressing the Class of 2022 at the 201st Convocation Sept. 4. Singh told first-years that as our world becomes more diverse, we become afraid of ourselves, perpetuating intolerance.


Game, Set, Match

Scott Altmeyer ’20 beat NESCAC rivals from Bowdoin and Amherst to win the “A” Flight at the Wallace Invitational at Bates College Oct. 7. Altmeyer won 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinal and 6-3, 5-7, (10-5) in the final. “I felt like my backhand was a real weapon this weekend, especially when things got tight,” he said. Heading into spring season with high expectations Altmeyer said, “This weekend was a major confidence boost for both me and the team. As a group, we showed we could be competitive with some of the strongest teams in the conference and country.”



That’s the number of alumni admissions volunteers from 38 states and 21 countries, who last year conducted more than 400 applicant conversations and represented Colby at college fairs around the world. This year every admitted student will also receive a personal letter from an alumni volunteer. “These are very significant interactions for applicants,” said Assistant Director of Admissions Sam Pelletier ’09. There’s a need for more alumni to join the effort, Pelletier said.

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Art and immigration

More than 70 organizations across Maine jumped at the chance to take part in an exploration of one the most hotly debated issues of our time—immigration. Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways is a three-month series of events and exhibitions organized by Catherine Besteman, the Francis F. Bartlett and Ruth K. Bartlett Professor of Anthropology at Colby, and Julie Poitras Santos, assistant professor at the Maine College of Art. “People want to find ways to talk about it that exist outside of ‘Are immigrants good or bad?’” Besteman said.

“The inevitable result is that the reduction in quality leads to a reduction of trust. So when errant politicians and public figures push back against even the most credible of reports, they find a fertile environment for doubt.”

—Then-Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Chuck Plunkett, who received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award Oct. 8, in an editorial published in the newspaper protesting budget cuts at the newspaper. The editorial, published April 6, 2018, decried newsroom layoffs and the damage such moves make to local journalism. Plunkett eventually resigned from his position and continues to be a vocal defender of local journalism in the face of newspaper buyouts and downsizing.


Jewish in Maine

“There’s no presumption to telling the full story. It’s more than anything else an opportunity to inspire people to reflect on these stories, to fill in their own pieces, to relate these stories to their own personal experiences and their family’s experiences—whether those are Jewish experiences or the experiences of other ethnic communities in Maine or simply the experiences of being in Maine.”

—David Freidenreich, the Pulver Family Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, on Maine + Jewish: Two Centuries, which opened in October at the Maine State Museum. Freidenreich wrote the essay for the exhibition handbook, and Colby students’ research contributed to the exhibition.


Squirrels in tree

Squirrels and Mules

These California ground squirrels have been getting some good Colby time in recent months. The squirrels are the subject of an intensive long-term study headed up by Jennifer Smith ’98, associate professor of biology at Mills College. Last summer Carolyn Kwak ’19 joined the research team, bringing things full circle. And the squirrels? The study revealed that they have defined social groups below ground and stick to those groups when they leave their burrow systems. And the most socially connected squirrels in the burrows have the same status above ground. The conclusions have implications for public health as squirrels, while cute, may carry diseases, including plague. The most social individuals may act as “hot spots” for disease transmission, Smith’s study found. Kwak’s research opportunity was made possible through the Russ Cole Research Fellows Program, established to honor Cole, who retired in 2016 as Oak Professor of Biological Sciences. Cole was Smith’s mentor at Colby and inspired her to become a behavioral ecologist. Kwak was one of Cole’s advisees during his last year.


Watch the Birds

Noticing how birds’ arrival times shift each spring is one way to assess climate change, says Herb Wilson, the Leslie Brainerd Arey Professor of Biosciences, in an article in Popular Science in September. Birds, which move when conditions will allow their survival, and not according to a calendar, “are sensitive sentinels of climate change.”


Deep Dive for Tuna

Loren McClenachan, the Elizabeth and Lee Ainslie Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, and her colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium received a $46,000 grant from NOAA’s Bluefin Tuna Research Program. The project, which involved several Colby students, including Duncan Coles ’19 and Sara Pipernos ’19, involves collection of documents from historical archives for western Atlantic bluefin tuna. Extending data back in time is expected to allow for better management of one of the world’s most valuable and iconic fisheries.


Dempsey Challenge and Colby LAX teams

LAX Rises to Dempsey Challenge

The men’s and women’s lacrosse teams raised nearly $15,000 for the 10th annual Dempsey Challenge, an annual fundraiser established by actor Patrick Dempsey for individual and families affected by cancer. The teams compete with Bates and Bowdoin to raise the most money, and the Mules won the College Cup for the third straight year in Lewiston, Maine, in September. The teams were given the trophy by Dempsey, who wears a Colby hat in the front row of the photo.


Consider the Noosphere

That’s the two meters just above the earth’s surface, and it’s the narrow atmospheric zone where all decisions in human history have been made, says James Fleming, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Science, Technology, and Society (See P. 52). Presenting at a conference in Paris, Fleming said Earth is unique in that it is the only planet in the known universe to have such a layer, one where the future of the planet will be decided.


John Swisher Mitchell

Swisher, 1927-2018

John “Swisher” Mitchell, beloved by generations of Colby men’s basketball players as a coach and friend, died July 25. Mitchell was assistant coach for 44 years, retiring with his good friend, former head coach Dick Whitmore, but remaining a presence in his players’ lives. To Mainers Mitchell was known as a member of the 1944 New England champion Waterville High School team. To Colby men’s basketball, he was a stalwart friend.


Davis Connects logo


The number of employers, across all industries, actively recruiting Colby students through DavisConnects—a 68-percent increase in just one year.


New Trustees Join Board

Colby recently welcomed five dynamic individuals to the Board of Trustees.

These corporate trustees will serve four-year terms:

Miguel Leff '98Miguel Leff ’98, born and raised in Mexico City, established his own private law practice, The Law Office of Miguel Leff, in La Jolla, Calif., in 2006 after working for law firms in New York, Los Angles, and Mexico City.
Chip Smith '91Chip Smith ’91 is an executive vice president ­­at 21st Century Fox, where he is head of global public affairs and leads the company’s public affairs, policy, government relations, and advocacy functions.
Laura Ward P'19, '22Laura Ward P’19, ’22, a researcher and consultant in the Neurobiology of Fear and Dissociative Disorders/Trauma Research Laboratories at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., focuses on trauma-informed care and patient-centered outcomes research.

These alumni trustees will serve three-year terms:

Nancy Donahue Cyker '88, P'18Nancy Donahue Cyker ’88, P’18, of Boston, has been involved with fundraising for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and with the ID One Foundation. She volunteered for Colby as class correspondent and was a member of her class’s 25th and 30th reunion planning committees.
Coy Dailey ’01Coy Dailey ’01 is director of diversity and equity at the Bank Street School for Children in New York City. Previously, he taught mathematics at the Packer Collegiate Institute, where he was also diversity coordinator and middle school dean of student life.


Largest Ever

This year Colby welcomed 41 new faculty members, upping the size of the faculty to 208—the largest faculty body ever. This growth allows Colby to expand its curriculum in emerging fields, better advise students, increase research and partnerships, and establish new global programs for students.


Some male ministers “actually deeply believe that men are supposed to be in charge. Their reading of the Bible does not have a vision of gender equality. Black women are very conscious of how important they are to the survival, growth, and continuity of the church. Very often, to become effective, prominent leaders, they have formed their own organizations and exercised that leadership outside the pulpit.”

—John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, who is also assistant pastor for special projects at Union Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass., in a CBC story in which Black women church leaders responded to Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.’s eulogy for Aretha Franklin, in which he said black women cannot raise black boys to be men.



SAT illustration

Standardized test scores are now optional for applicants to Colby. The move, announced Sept. 24, was made for several reasons, College officials said, including the limited ability of standardized tests to assess the intellectual attributes that Colby values and are essential in an innovation economy; that the tests place students from under-resourced backgrounds at a disadvantage; and that Colby’s own research and national studies show that the tests have only modest predictive powers for success in college.


photograph by Paul Goldsmith, Soviet tanks roll into Prague in August 1968

In this photograph by Paul Goldsmith, Soviet tanks roll into Prague in August 1968. The quashing of a brief period of liberalization and reform was the subject of a conference at Colby Sept. 20-21 that drew Goldsmith, scholars, and a former prime minister of Czechoslovakia, Petr Pithart. The event was sponsored by the Government Department, the Center for the Arts and Humanities, and the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs.