Opening of the Academic Year
Dear Colby Community,
The challenges of our world can seem overwhelming: natural disasters, global conflicts, and violence in our communities; anger, ignorance, and bigotry; gross disparities in the human condition; and leaders across sectors acting in narrow self-interest instead of furthering the commonweal. These are challenges that can erode our hope and sense of possibility. And yet, hope and possibility have never been more evident on this inspiring campus in Waterville, Maine. Our more than 550 members of the Class of 2021, 41 new faculty, and dozens of new staff are joining a community that believes in the value of hard work, the rigorous testing of ideas, and our collective power for discovery and changing the course of history.
Our own community is changing in important and promising ways. The first-year class was chosen from 11,190 applicants and is bringing a range of extraordinary academic talents to Mayflower Hill. Nearly half the class is receiving financial aid, 28 percent of the students identify as students of color, 12 percent are first-generation college students, and more than 35 students came to us through QuestBridge, which identifies top students across the country and matches them with the finest institutions of higher learning. This is the most diverse and academically prepared class to enter Colby, and having met many of our newest students over the last week, my optimism for the future of our world has been fully restored.
These students enter at a time when our faculty is rightly earning national accolades for scholarly excellence and an unparalleled commitment to teaching. The classroom experience is being augmented with distinctive new resources. This year we launch DavisConnects in a beautifully renovated and expanded Grossman Hall to facilitate global, internship, and research experiences for all of our students. The Lunder Institute for American Art will welcome its first visiting fellows this year. And our faculty and students will access a vast array of resources through the Buck Lab for the Environment and Climate Change, our partnership with Allen Island that offers a remarkable pedagogical and research site, a reimagined faculty-in-residence program that more fully integrates residential and academic life, and the newly opened Mule Works innovation lab in Miller Library.
Our campus is evolving to meet the needs of our faculty, staff, and students and to provide them with the infrastructure required to work and succeed at the highest levels. This includes new high performance computing resources, a renovated Schupf computing lab in Olin, a solar array that will provide 16 percent of the College’s electricity needs, and a completed outdoor competition center that provides our student athletes and intercollegiate teams with competition and practice fields that are among the best in the nation for a Division III program. To complement the all-weather baseball and softball complex we opened two years ago, we are now opening a new soccer field, a multi-use practice field, a rugby pitch, and a newly sited Bill Alfond Field for lacrosse and field hockey. The construction of these new fields has allowed us to begin site work to construct our new indoor athletic complex, which is underway and will open in 2020.
Colby’s partnership with the city of Waterville has also begun to show encouraging results. We have completed our efforts to renovate 173 Main Street, a former bank building that sat largely empty for decades and is now a modern technology center with ground floor retail coming later this year. Across the street the steel has been erected for the 100,000-square-foot residential and mixed-use facility that, beginning a year from now, will house 200 Colby students and faculty, a new program in community partnership and civic engagement, and retail space. We have cleared the lot and are finalizing architectural plans for a boutique hotel. And with so many others investing in Main Street properties and businesses right now, we see the possibility of further expanding job growth and opportunity in this wonderful city.
I am excited for the year ahead. With new programs and resources coming together in areas like the performing arts and public policy, a commitment to addressing global and local challenges unflinchingly and respectfully, and with support from our alumni, parents, and friends that no college of our size has ever experienced, Colby’s future has never been brighter. And the world, despite its vexing challenges, will ultimately be led by the students of today. That brings a smile to my face, even in these trying times.
David A. Greene