Meet the OCS Team

Nancy Downey, Ph.D., Director: 

Nancy has been Director of Off-Campus Study at Colby since 2007. A seasoned international education professional, Nancy has held various positions in the field over the years, both here and abroad.  Earlier in her career, she worked at Boston University in various positions, most recently as Director of Programs in the Division of International Programs, and before that as  Director of Academic Affairs. Prior to that, from 1995-1996 she was Resident Director of the B.U. Moscow Internship program, and from 1994-1995, Resident Director of SUNY Albany’s Moscow program.  Nancy holds a Ph.D. from Brown University in Russian language and literature, an M.A. in Russian language and literature from SUNY Albany as well as a C.A.S. (Certificate of  Advanced Study) in translation, and a B.A. in English literature from Catholic University. 


Allyson Hawkins, Assistant Director:

Allyson Hawkins holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, focusing on Human Security and Intersectional Analysis. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Director of the Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies (based at Northeastern University), and worked alongside faculty facilitating experiential learning programs in Jordan and Egypt. She brings a range of international education experience to her work, having lived and worked abroad teaching ESL with AMIDEAST Tunisia and supporting refugee programming as an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow for the Collateral Repair Project (Amman). She has also worked for the World Peace Foundation (Tufts), the Consortium on Gender, Security, and Human Rights (UMass Boston), and Layalina Productions, Inc. in Washington DC. 


Sue Forbes, Administrative Program Assistant:


Contact us

Tel: (207) 859-4500
Email: [email protected]

Grossman 100

Office Hours:  Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Walk-in Hours: Mondays:  9:30a.m. – 10:30a.m. AND Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays: 2:30p.m. – 3:30p.m.

For individual student advising appointments, please see the Appointment Calendar on our home page.


Mission and Principles

The Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS) is committed to making a substantive off-campus study opportunity available to every eligible student. An understanding of cultures that differ from one’s own is an essential component of global learning at Colby. The opportunity to study off campus fosters a shared experience between Colby students and members of their host communities, which in turn provides deep and enriching connections in their personal, academic, and professional lives. OCS ensures that students participate in academically rigorous programs and are provided with rich intercultural experiences through foreign language learning, connected learning experiences off-campus to their program of study at Colby, and meaningful engagement in distinct cultures.


Consistent with the educational philosophy of Colby College (The Colby Precepts), OCS adheres to the following principles in approving, reviewing, and recommending education abroad programs and applications:

  • The off-campus study experience should be part of the student’s overall academic plan developed by the student with their academic advisor and OCS faculty mentor;
  • The off-campus study experience should enhance the student’s program of study at Colby and their postgraduate plans, specifically via research, civic and/or targeted cultural engagement
  • Principal educational advantages of education abroad are in-depth cross-cultural exposure and language learning, and approved programs should maximize these benefits;
  • Education abroad should provide a cultural experience substantially different from the student’s own and enhance both awareness of and perspective toward a student’s home culture;
  • Financial aid should be applicable to Colby programs, and portable to other approved programs making access to education abroad possible for all students.

OCS is responsible for insuring that Colby’s programs abroad, as well as other programs approved by the college, conform to these principles. The college has a vested interest in the quality of all off-campus programs for which it grants Colby credit. This interest centers not only on the academic part of the program, but also on extra-curricular and cultural aspects since exposure to and knowledge of other cultures is achieved both in and out of the classroom.

OCS therefore oversees a rich portfolio of credit-bearing programs, both international and domestic and administers Colby’s own programs in Salamanca, Dijon, and at the Bigelow Laboratory. We emphasize the student experience in a way that guides students throughout the entire off-campus study process from program selection and pre-departure to the time away from Colby and back to re-entry. In collaboration with academic advisors, faculty liaisons and mentors, advising deans, and the counseling center, OCS strives to provide students with thoughtful guidance and reliable support throughout the entire process.


The Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS)


More than two-thirds of Colby students participate in one or more global experiences during their time on the Hill, enhancing their undergraduate experience. 


We oversee a rich portfolio of credit bearing programs, both international and domestic. Students planning to study away begin the advising and application process in our office at the start of their sophomore year. In collaboration with academic advisors and faculty liaisons, we strive to provide students with thoughtful guidance and reliable support throughout the entire process.