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Adding to a decades-long family commitment to the revitalization of historic areas, Colby alumnus and parent Malcolm Chace has made a major commitment to Colby in support of a stunning feature in the College’s new student residence complex in downtown Waterville.
The Chace Community Forum—an intentionally integrated civic and institutional space—will enhance the ways Colby, the community, and civic leaders can work together on issues relative to Waterville—and beyond.
The $1-million gift from Malcolm Chace ’90, P’18 will support construction of the 3,800-square-foot space on the first floor of 150 Main Street and will endow robust programming organized by students, including workshops, symposia, and lectures that will engage a broad cross-section of the Waterville community. The Chace Forum will also be home to the City of Waterville City Council, will host a range of public meetings, and will be a resource for local nonprofit organizations by providing public gathering space in the heart of downtown Waterville.
“Malcolm Chace’s generosity will make it possible for Colby students to interact with and learn from our neighbors in the community,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “This downtown project is unique in the way that it connects our students to the community through civic engagement, and this remarkable gift aligns beautifully with the spirit and mission of the Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons.”
The complex will house 200 Colby students, faculty, and staff in a program blending community work, academics, and service in a rapidly revitalizing downtown and beyond.
Dean of the College Karlene Burrell-McRae ’94 sees the addition of accessible community space, and the speaker series, as critical to the civic-engagement mission of the new residence.
“This new space represents Colby’s commitment to the wider community,” said Burrell-McRae, who oversees civic engagement at Colby and is working with faculty, students, and community partners to create a new, robust program this year. “Interaction is key to being responsible for and accountable to each other. As we become involved with meaningful collaborative work with our neighbors, we are afforded the opportunity to learn from those we welcome into the forum.”
Burrell-McRae and Vice President for Planning Brian Clark met with more than 25 community groups and civic organizations last year to help frame the mission of the Chace Forum.
“Colby’s commitment to the City of Waterville is nothing short of inspiring,” Chace said. “This effort is the real thing, and will forever transform the community in bold and imaginative ways. We could not be more pleased to partner in this dynamic new revitalization.”
The Chace family has been responsible for numerous renewal and revitalization projects in their home city of Providence, R.I. In the 19th century, ancestor Oliver Chace founded textile mills in Rhode Island, including the Valley Falls Co., an antecedent of Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway was an economic driver in Maine during the 20th century.
The Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons is scheduled to open in August. Made up of four- and six-bedroom apartments, the complex will also include apartments for several faculty and staff, lounge and fitness areas, and classroom space. Retail space will occupy part of the ground level. The Chace Community Forum will include flexible seating, a catering kitchen to support local businesses, and state-of-the-art audio-visual capacity.