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William D. Adams, who became the 19th president of Colby College at the beginning of July, welcomed first year students to the campus last week and then joined some of them on their outdoor orientation trips, hiking, kayaking, fishing and participating in a drama group. Adams said that besides getting to know the 187-year-old college, its campus, faculty and staff prior to the return of students, he has directed much of his energy toward long-range, strategic planning.
“I was drawn to the opportunity at Colby because of the excellent reputation of the college and my keen sense that the institution aspires to a new level of educational distinction and national regard in years to come,” Adams said. “The moment of leadership transition presents an unparalleled opportunity to engage in a strategic and comprehensive reassessment of the college’s educational profile and fundamental institutional goals.
Adams assumed Colby’s presidency on July 1 after an extremely successful tenure as president of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Prior to running Bucknell he taught political philosophy, ran the Great Works in Western Culture program at Stanford University and was vice president and secretary of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
Adams has been an advocate of liberal arts education since his own undergraduate years at Colorado College. After interrupting his studies there to serve in the army in Vietnam, Adams graduated magna cum laude. He subsequently spent a year in France as a Fulbright Scholar and earned a Ph.D. in the history of consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
He succeeds William R. Cotter, who was president of the college from 1979-2000 and is now the chief executive officer of The Oak Foundation.
Returning upper-class students arrived at Colby on Labor Day and classes will begin on Wednesday, September 6.
This year’s freshmen—the Class of 2004—represents 37 states and 25 countries. The 470 members of the incoming class were selected from almost 4,000 applicants. Twenty three of them were high school valedictorians and another nine were salutatorians.
Eleven of the first-year students make up the inaugural group of Colby’s Davis-United World College (UWC) scholars— graduates of the UWC schools who won scholarships through a program announced by Shelby Davis and Colby trustee Andrew Davis last spring. The Davis UWC scholars have come to Colby from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Jordan, Sudan, Macedonia, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania. Seven of them graduated from the UWC’s Red Cross College in Norway—more than from any other school. Lexington (Mass.) High School was second with six, according to Dean of Admissions Parker J. Beverage.
Beverage, addressing the Class of ’04 at its matriculation convocation Sunday morning, got the most applause after announcing: “One of you is named Colby, and none of you is named Bates or Bowdoin.” (Colby Scroath ’04 is from Ohio.) All 470 freshmen participated in the COOT (Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips) program last week before returning to Waterville on Saturday for further orientation programs on campus.
Colby, which enrolls 1,750 students, was founded in 1813 and consistently ranks among the best and most competitive colleges in the nation.