Just over four years into its $750-million Dare Northward campaign—the largest campaign in liberal arts college history—Colby College announced today that it has surpassed $650 million with contributions from more than 24,700 alumni, family members, and friends. The campaign is already making a substantial impact on the student, faculty, and staff experiences at Colby, from expanding financial aid to supporting faculty growth and enabling the building of new facilities and programs.
“The generosity of the Colby community is unmatched,” said President David A. Greene. “This generosity is fueled by a desire to have an impact—to provide opportunities for young people to make a difference in the world, to support innovative teaching and scholarship, to strengthen communities, and to ensure that Colby will be a global center for educational excellence for centuries to come.”
“What the Colby community has achieved so far is nothing short of extraordinary. But there is still more we can do. The College, under President David Greene’s leadership, has an incredible vision for the future, and that can only be achieved if we continue to strive to reach our goal together,” said Bill Alfond ’72, LL.D. ’19, trustee and campaign co-chair.
A National Leader in Access and Affordability
Colby continues to be a national leader in access and affordability. As one of the nation’s few institutions to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need without student loans, the College is establishing new standards with its ongoing commitment to making a Colby education even more accessible. The College has been able to expand its innovative financial aid programs thanks to a community of generous donors. Since the start of the Dare Northward campaign, approximately $70 million in financial aid gifts have been made, with more than $15 million being raised in the last fiscal year alone.
Recent major gifts include $7 million from the George G. Petrikas Revocable Trust to establish the George G. Petrikas Financial Aid Fund in support of high school graduates from Bangor or Waterville who enroll at Colby, as well as an anonymous $2.8-million gift that further ensures access and affordability for Maine students.
The financial aid programs allow Colby to attract talented students from all backgrounds. This academic year Colby enrolled the largest class in the College’s history with 669 first-year students selected from a record-setting 15,857 applicants. Among U.S. citizens, 37 percent identify as students of color. Nine percent are non-U.S. citizens, 11 percent are first-generation students, and 16 percent are Pell grant recipients.
Key financial aid initiatives supporting these students include the Colby Commitment, which provides students the opportunity to graduate without loan debt. If a student’s family has a total income of $65,000 or less, approximately the median household income in the U.S., and assets typical of that range, the College guarantees a parent or guardian contribution of $0. For families earning up to $150,000 with assets typical of that range, Colby’s Fair Shot Fund ensures the parent or guardian contribution will be capped at $15,000. Based on the latest United States Census Bureau data, this makes the cost of a Colby education accessible to most U.S. families, and in many instances more affordable than attending public institutions.
An Innovative Academic Program Led by Extraordinary Teachers and Scholars
The campaign has supported a significant increase in Colby’s faculty. This growth has resulted in an expansion of curricular offerings and Colby’s research profile and allows the College to recruit experts in important and emerging fields, such as artificial intelligence.
In January 2021 the College announced the first cross-disciplinary institute for artificial intelligence at a liberal arts college, made possible by a $30-million gift from the Davis family and trustee of its charitable foundation Andrew Davis ’85, LL.D. ’15.
The Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence is providing new pathways for talented students and faculty to research, create, and apply AI and machine learning in a manner that is informed and driven by a broad liberal arts perspective. The Davis Institute launched this fall with more than 20 courses and classes that have been retooled to include significant AI components. Amanda Stent, who most recently served as the natural language processing architect at Bloomberg L.P. and led the company’s People and Language AI Team, became the inaugural director in October 2021.
Three labs have been created since the start of the campaign: the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment, the Linde Packman Lab for Biosciences Innovation, and the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship, which will launch next year and provide distinctive opportunities and experiences for understanding and applying the principles of entrepreneurship. The result of a generous gift from Trustee Emeritus Todd Halloran ’84, the new lab will create a unique and leading entrepreneurship program among liberal arts colleges.
To help attract and retain the world’s top scholars and educators, as well as support the important role of tenure in academia, this fall Colby became the inaugural college in the Haynesville Project, a first-of-its-kind pilot program that provides financial support for newly tenured faculty. Developed by Tom and Cathy Tinsley P’10, the core of the initiative is a generous $2-million gift that will provide direct funding to talented faculty who are at pivotal points in their careers.
A Commitment to Excellence in Athletics and Recreation
In addition to academic excellence, Colby remains committed to its athletics teams and programs and to ensuring members of the community can live a healthy, active lifestyle. With the completion and opening of the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center—the best Division III facility in the country—Colby is building championship athletics programs. The center also serves as a valuable fitness and wellness resource for the entire community and has elevated the College’s national prominence and inspired pride in its alumni body. Several comprehensive additions within the past year also have propelled Colby to have the single best set of outdoor fields for athletic competition and recreation in NESCAC and arguably among all D-III institutions.
In addition to significant capital commitments, Colby has made several important moves to build excellence in its intercollegiate athletics programs, including the creation of the Department of Recreation and the hiring of additional coaches and staff members. Programs like Peak Performance for student athletes and Healthy Colby for first-year students help ensure students build beneficial lifelong skills and habits.
A Revitalized Downtown Waterville and a Growing Arts Ecosystem
The Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center, along with Colby’s economic revitalization of downtown Waterville, have been supported by a truly remarkable $101-million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation. Dozens of other six- and seven-figure gifts have also been made by dedicated members of the Colby community to bring this amazing facility to reality.
Growing an arts ecosystem that enriches the community solidifies Colby’s commitment to the arts, which has long been anchored by the extraordinary Colby College Museum of Art, and strengthening the region’s creative economy remains a top priority for the College. On campus the 74,000-square-foot Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, the largest academic building project in Colby’s history, is slated to open in fall 2023. It will serve as the new home for Colby’s Departments of Music, of Cinema Studies, and of Performance, Theater, and Dance, as well as function as the most advanced and innovative arts facility in the region.
The center is named after Trustee Michael Gordon ’66, whose lead gift made the building possible. Fundraising efforts for the building are ongoing.
In downtown Waterville, the Greene Block + Studios, made possible by lead donors Peter H. Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98 and Life Trustee Paula Crane Lunder, D.F.A. ’98, officially opened in September 2021. Construction is underway for the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, which will be complete at the end of 2022. Both facilities will house a variety of creative and community spaces, making the city a destination for the arts.
A vibrant downtown Waterville is critical to the health of the central Maine region and to Colby. Through the Dare Northward campaign, Colby has catalyzed a historic revitalization of Main Street with dynamic new spaces. The College is spearheading the growth and development of Waterville—drawing investors, deepening civic engagement, and attracting new jobs to build a rejuvenated city alive with activity, in which history is honored and reimagined spaces brim with civic promise.
In addition to the art spaces, updates include the Lockwood Hotel with its Front & Main restaurant. The Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons serves as a living and learning community, placing 200 Colby students and faculty in the heart of civic life in downtown Waterville. The Waterville revitalization effort provides a blueprint for other cities that seek to regrow their populations and reinvent their economic base.
Colby is experiencing a time of great momentum as it moves closer to becoming the first liberal arts college in history to raise $750 million in one campaign. The initiatives Dare Northward supports make the College and community stronger.