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George Sopko ([email protected])
207-859-4346

Colby College today announced that Matthew “Matt” Proto has been named vice president and chief institutional advancement officer. Proto, who joined the College in 2015, will assume his new role immediately with responsibility for leading admissions, advancement, communications, and first-year financial aid.

“I’m incredibly pleased that Matt has accepted this new role,” said President David A. Greene. “He has helped transform Colby’s approach to admissions and communications, and I’m confident his leadership will continue to further our advancement efforts. Matt has demonstrated remarkable capacity for effective outreach, and those skills will be critical as we continue to engage our broader Colby community and seek support for the College’s highest priorities.”

Proto will lead Colby’s advancement team at a time of significant momentum. Almost four years ago the College launched the largest campaign in liberal arts college history, Dare Northward, which is having an extraordinary impact on Colby students, faculty, staff, and members of the local community, and placed Colby among the top liberal arts colleges in the nation in terms of fundraising.

“I’m honored that President Greene asked me to lead advancement at a time when Colby has grown its reputation as one of the preeminent liberal arts colleges in the country,” commented Proto. “I’m looking forward to building upon that momentum and continuing to set a new standard for liberal arts colleges. I’m also excited to work and collaborate with the talented advancement team to meet and exceed our goals in support of the College’s mission.”

Key Priorities

While Colby has made significant progress in a wide range of areas, key priorities moving forward will include:

  • Aggressively recruiting highly qualified students from every social, cultural, and geographic background with programs like the Fair Shot Fund, a $0 parent and guardian contribution initiative, and the Pulver Science Scholars Program.
  • Investing in multidisciplinary programs and partnerships that open paths to exceptional experiences and opportunities for students and faculty. Recent highlights include the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the Buck Lab for the Climate and Environment, and the Linde Packman Lab for Biosciences Innovation.
  • Providing ongoing support for athletics and recreation, including the new state-of-the-art Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center and the important role it plays as part of the Colby experience.
  • Growing the Colby Museum of Art’s collections and programs and securing its reputation as the country’s preeminent academic art museum and an international destination for the collection, study, and exhibition of American art via the renowned Lunder Institute for American Art.
  • Supporting a new model for post-graduate success, DavisConnects, which offers students unparalleled access to internships, research, and global experiences.
  • Building a one-of-a-kind performance space, the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, which will serve as a laboratory for artists and arts organizations, increase access to world-class performances, and demonstrate Colby’s commitment to the performing arts.
  • Driving the ongoing and successful revitalization of Waterville. Highlights include the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, the upcoming Lockwood Hotel, the recently opened arts collaborative, and the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, which is currently under construction.

Impressive Accomplishments

Proto’s expanded role at Colby follows an extensive list of accomplishments at the College. Key among them is creating a comprehensive strategy to increase the academic competitiveness and diversity of each first-year class since 2015, which resulted in a more than 100-percent increase in total applications and an acceptance selectivity rate change from 23 percent in 2015 to 9 percent in 2021. Just as important, under his leadership the admissions team has been responsible for increasing the number of Pell grant recipients by more than 70 percent and the number of enrolled students of color by more than 50 percent. Additionally, the median ACT score of Colby students has increased from 31 to 33, while the median SAT score has gone from 1370 to 1450.

“When Matt arrived at admissions, the faculty said they wanted more focus on an academically well-prepared, intellectually ambitious, and diverse student body,” said Provost and Dean of Faculty Margaret McFadden. “Matt and his colleagues used a variety of strategies to accomplish that—from working with college-access organizations to developing innovative financial aid programs—and the transformation in just a few years is remarkable. The students that he and the admissions team have brought to Colby have elevated the intellectual culture on campus, and I regularly hear from faculty that they are a joy to teach.”

Since assuming responsibility for College communications in 2019, Proto has developed a new digital-first marketing and communications initiative that has led to a more than 90-percent increase in aggregate readership of Colby content and significantly enhanced the reach, engagement, and impressions across all College platforms. He has also overseen and supported a new media relations strategy that has led to a wide range of earned media placements featuring Colby in top-tier national outlets, including the New York Times, NPR Marketplace, and PBS NewsHour, to name a few.

Proto is an advisory board member for the Education Finance Institute, serves as a board member for the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals, and is a faculty member at the Harvard College Summer Institute on College Admission.

Prior to joining Colby in 2015, Proto was a member of the admissions team at Stanford University. He has worked in multiple admissions roles, including director of scholar selection for the Morehead-Cain Scholars Program, associate director of admission and college counseling at Choate Rosemary Hall, and assistant director of admissions at Yale University. A graduate of Yale, Proto earned a master’s of liberal studies degree at Wesleyan University and a doctorate in educational leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.