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Journalist Rebecca Corbett and Harold Alfond Foundation Chairman Gregory Powell will also receive honorary degrees

As Colby College celebrates the accomplishments of its 2018 graduating class, it will honor four accomplished individuals for their important contributions to society and culture. U.S. Senator Susan Collins, LL.D.’14 (R-ME) will deliver the commencement address May 27, and renowned artist Theaster Gates will deliver the baccalaureate address May 26 and receive an honorary degree.

The College will also honor alumna Rebecca Corbett, assistant managing editor of the New York Times, who led the team of reporters who broke the story that launched the #metoo and #timesup movements, and Gregory W. Powell, executive chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, whose vision and leadership have transformed the lives of thousands of Maine people and play a critical role in the revitalization of downtown Waterville.

“We are delighted to welcome and honor these remarkable individuals on campus this spring,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “They have shown us the power of principled leadership, the potential for strengthening communities by revealing possibilities where others see constraint, and the promise of creative, persistent action to bring about positive change.”

Senator Susan Collins 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 15th in Senate seniority, is the most senior Republican woman, and is widely considered one of the most powerful members of the Senate. 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.

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.


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.

Gregory W. Powell P’15 is CEO and president of Dexter Enterprises, Inc., a wealth management firm, and executive 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 higher education savings for all Maine children, 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.

Members of the Class of 2018, who number approximately 480, came to Colby from 29 states and 43 countries. The majority of graduates have studied abroad and completed internships and significant scholarly research. They will go on to a broad range of careers and to graduate or professional schools to study law, education, finance, medicine, nonprofit leadership, and much more.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library, weather permitting. It is open to the public, and attendees who are not family members of graduates are asked to bring their own chairs. Any notice of weather-related location change will be posted at, as will the link to a live webcast for those unable to attend.

Members of the media who plan to attend, need information, or wish to arrange an audio feed during the ceremony should contact Kate Carlisle in the Office of Communications at or 207-859-4369. Advance notice and Colby-issued press credentials are required of all members of the media.