Commencement—by Biden

Joseph R. Biden Jr.Joseph R. Biden Jr., the 47th Vice President of the United States, told graduates to help the nation return to basic principles of equality and dignity and to understand each other’s stories to develop a deeper sense of humanity.

“When you know somebody’s mom has breast cancer and you know somebody’s dad just lost his job,” he said, “it makes it hard to dislike that person. You get to understand and see their humanity. We used to know those things in Congress.

Family with Biden at Commencement

Danny Smith ’17, left, and family members pose for a photo with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at Commencement, May 21. With Smith and the vice president are Smith’s mother, Sirtiary Washington, and his brother, Ozias Washington.

“Life can’t be lived in this self-referential, self-reinforcing, self-righteous echo chamber we’ve built for ourselves online. Living in our screens encourages shallow and antiseptic relationships that make it easy to reduce others to stereotypes. … You have to work to ascribe to your opposition the same emotional complexity you find in yourself.”

Noting that polls have shown that millennials are capable and tolerant but reluctant to engage in politics, he exhorted graduates to join in the civic process. “No graduating class gets to choose the world they graduate into,” he said. “That history gets written by those who came before you. But now it’s your job to put your hands on the wheel and bend that arc of history closer to where we want to be as a nation.”

Biden greeted each graduate and spent hours on campus, capping the day with a visit to Dairy Cone on North Street. More at

Four Join Board of Trustees

Armando Bengochea, Sara Burns ’79, Jessica D’Ercole Stanton ’92, and Tanya Williams P’20 were named to the Board of Trustees this spring.

Bengochea joined the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2012 as program officer for diversity and director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF).

Burns, of Manchester, Maine, has worked at Central Maine Power (CMP) for 30 years, where she’s risen from manager of risk management to president and CEO, a position she has held since 2005.

Stanton lives in Wellesley, Mass., where she’s involved with a number of local nonprofits and boards leading environmental sustainability efforts as well as working with local homeless shelters and service organizations. Previously, she worked in the development office at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Williams is chief administrative officer, secretary-treasurer, and a director of R2T2 Laboratories, Inc. and a board-certified pediatrician. Since 2011 she has been an independent consultant providing health-related support services and advice to the private school community in New York City. Her daughter is beginning her second year at Colby.


The number of students who presented at the Colby Liberal Arts Symposium in May, including presentations, posters, Arts@CLAS, and Open CLAS. The annual celebration of student work across the liberal arts drew hundreds to learn about everything from meteorites to memoir.


GPA of Vlad Murad ’17. The computer science and mathematics major also qualified for the men’s singles tennis NCAA Division III individual championships. The combo earned him a spot in the NCAA’s Elite 90. One of the few NESCAC athletes to earn this honor, Murad is headed for a Ph.D. program in artificial intelligence at the University of Washington.

Embarrassed? That’s a Good Thing

In a June 16 New York Times op-ed, Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology Neil Gross delves into the historical analysis of embarrassment and the function it has in modern-day society. “The embarrassed individual is a functioning member of society, attuned enough to the dynamics of interpersonal interaction that his or her body responds reflexively to a perceived breach,” Gross writes. “Embarrassment is a signal that family, school, and peer groups—the main institutions that socialize us—are doing their job.”

Crook Family Underwrites Competition

Rendering of Colby College Athletic Center basket ball courtWhen the planned new athletic complex opens in 2020, generations of Colby athletes—and members of the wider community—will be able to enjoy the new basketball arena, thanks to a $8.3-million-gift from Trustee Jim Crook ’78, P’11 and Andrea Crook P’11. The couple has included $500,000 for Colby’s annual fund.

Jim Crook ’78 with former assistant basketball coach John “Swisher” Mitchell, left, and Mitchell’s brother Paul Mitchell. Crook played for Mitchell and basketball coach Dick Whitmore on successful teams of that era.

Jim Crook ’78 with former assistant basketball coach John “Swisher” Mitchell, left, and Mitchell’s brother Paul Mitchell. Crook played for Mitchell and basketball coach Dick Whitmore on successful teams of that era.

“The Crooks know from firsthand experience the important lessons learned from being part of teams that prevail in the most competitive environments,” said Colby President David A. Greene, referring to Jim Crook’s basketball team in the 1970s, their daughter Lexi’s lacrosse team, which consistently made the NCAA Sweet 16, and their family’s professional success. “We want our students to learn what it takes to be successful in academics and athletics and throughout their lives in whatever their chosen field.”

Lexi Crook ’11 was a two-sport varsity athlete and a captain of Colby women’s lacrosse. Jim Crook played several successful seasons for legendary coaches Dick Whitmore and John “Swisher” Mitchell. “I learned more from losing as a result of knowing what it’s like to win,” he said, “and I want Colby’s current and future students to have a competitive experience like the one Lexi and I enjoyed.”

Back on the Hill

Richard Uchida ’79, vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the CollegeTrustee Emeritus Richard Uchida ’79, former vice chair of the Board of Trustees and former partner at the law firm Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, LLP, is back on the Hill. Uchida was named vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the College, effective July 15.

Long recognized as a preeminent attorney in real estate law and commercial litigation, Uchida is a national leader on issues of legal ethics, professional conduct, and governance. At Colby, he is the primary liaison to the Colby College Board of Trustees and other governing groups.

“I was fortunate to get to know Richard through his role on the board, and I was consistently impressed by his deep knowledge, nuanced perspective, and unwavering commitment to the College’s mission,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “At a time when the College is involved in complex real estate transactions and encountering dramatic shifts in the federal regulatory environment, we will benefit from his wise counsel.”

Political Analyst Amy Walter ’91: The Values of Success

National political analyst Amy Walter ’91 told seniors that true success will come from understanding their own values and living by them.

Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report, a frequent contributor to the PBS NewsHour, and widely considered one of the most respected political analysts in the country, spoke at the College’s 196th Baccalaureate in Lorimer Chapel May 20.

“The real key to success—it doesn’t come from getting the right internship,” Walter told the Class of 2017. “It comes instead from knowing your own values and your own value. You don’t have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life today. But you need to know who you are and what matters to you.”

Olkkola Takes Over as Athletic Director

Jacob Olkkola, athletic directorJacob Olkkola, an administrator and former coach who has held leadership roles at the University of Delaware and Harvard University, was named the Harold Alfond Director of Athletics following a national search. He arrived on Mayflower Hill in July.

Olkkola was formerly senior associate director of athletics at the University of Delaware (UD). As a member of the senior leadership team, he had a role in helping teams achieve conference and national championships while overseeing the design and construction of UD’s award-winning athletic and recreation facility.

“This is a dynamic time with many great opportunities on the horizon for Colby and for the city of Waterville. My family and I are beyond thrilled to become part of the Colby community.” Earlier this year, Colby announced its plans for a new, 350,000-square-foot athletic complex, which will position Colby to provide its community with first-rate athletic facilities across the board.

“The most important thing I’ve learned at Colby is collaborative learning. As the African proverb goes, ‘Wisdom is like a baobab tree—no one individual can embrace it.’”

—Kumba Seddu ’17 of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Seddu works at Harvard University conducting research on The Immunological Genome Project—how failures of self-tolerance lead to autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes.

From the Classroom to Eustis

After leading in the classroom and laboratory, some faculty will now be doing the same in Eustis. Provost Margaret McFadden has tapped:

Professor of Biology Russell Johnson, as associate provost for academic programs. Johnson will oversee the curriculum, including new initiatives, Jan Plan, and planning for academic facilities. Johnson was chair of the Natural Sciences Division.

Professor of Religious Studies Carleen Mandolfo, as the College’s first associate provost for faculty development and diversity. Mandolfo will support faculty development and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. She was most recently chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

Associate Professor of German Arne Koch, as inaugural dean for global engagement. Koch will provide leadership and coordination of global opportunities across campus and throughout the extended Colby community. Koch has chaired the Department of German and Russian and chaired the Humanities Division.

Mandolfo’s and Koch’s positions are new roles recommended by College task forces on global
Colby and diversity.

Read about their careers on the Hill. [Gerry:Missing information]

McFadden is Provost and Dean of Faculty

Margaret McFadden, provost and dean of facultyMargaret T. McFadden—an acclaimed scholar of American studies and longtime faculty member—is Colby’s new provost and dean of faculty.

“Margaret is an extraordinary intellectual and has been an influential teacher to a generation of Colby students,” said President David A. Greene. “The College will benefit from the energy and engaged spirit she brings to this role.”

McFadden joined the Colby faculty in 1996 and was previously the Christian A. Johnson Associate Professor of Integrated Liberal Learning. She has chaired and served on major College committees, and she led the establishment of new initiatives including the Center for the Arts and Humanities, the program in environmental humanities, and the Cinema Studies Program.

As associate provost, a role she held since March 2016, McFadden supervised curriculum review and policy development.

A scholar of American popular culture with interests in gender and sexuality, media, and comedy, McFadden won teaching prizes at Colby and at Yale, where she earned her Ph.D. after her undergraduate work at Wells College. In 2001 she was awarded Colby’s highest faculty prize, the Charles Bassett Teaching Award, given annually to a professor chosen by a vote of the senior class.

Her most recent book, The L Word, was published in 2014. The work explores the Showtime TV series of the same name, which debuted in 2004. The book explores representation and misrepresentation of lesbians in popular media and the show’s inherent critique of Hollywood. In 2015 McFadden taught a course on the TV show and its place in American popular culture.