Colby is pleased to announce the naming of the dean of students position after Charles Terrell ’70, Litt.D. ’21, a nationally recognized authority on access, diversity, and student financing in higher education and a College trustee from 2006 to 2014.
“At Colby, a named position is one of the greatest honors, and the dean of students will forever carry Charles Terrell’s name,” President David A. Greene said during Baccalaureate 2022 when he surprised Terrell, who was seated on stage, with the news.
Greene recounted Terrell’s time as a student when he and 17 of his classmates protested for the equitable treatment of students of color. At the time, the College had two standards for academic dismissal—a harsher standard for students receiving financial aid and a more liberal one for students who did not need financial assistance. “That policy was unfair in so many ways, but it had a particularly adverse impact on students of color at that time, a majority of whom were aided and many of whom arrived at Colby then from under-resourced high schools,” Greene said. “His story should always be told. His name should permeate this campus to remind us that progress comes from courage and humility.”
Terrell was a founding member and the first president of the student group Students Organized for Black Unity, now Students Organized for Black and Latinx Unity. He helped lead the occupation of Lorimer Chapel in March 1970, which resulted in improved race relations on campus. Terrell said he was “totally floored” and humbled by the news. “It is deeply meaningful to me,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “Of all the things Colby could have honored me for with a name, dean of students is the one I feel closest to.”
For much of his career, Terrell was an associate dean at the Boston University Medical Center, where he was widely known as “Dean Terrell” among students, colleagues, and peers. “My focus and identity as a professional have been as dean of students. When David announced this news, it blew me away and still does,” he said.
Terrell lives in Brookline, Mass., and had a 25-year career in medical education at BU Medical Center, including as associate dean for student affairs. He is cofounder of Cross Creek Higher Ed Associates, a pro-bono higher-educational advisory service promoting higher-education access and equity. He also served as vice president for diversity, policy, and programs and chief diversity officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges. He was a Colby trustee for eight years and remains active as a friend and mentor. Colby recognized his impact on the College with an honorary doctorate during the 200th Commencement in 2021, when he delivered the baccalaureate address.
After graduating from Colby, he earned his M.A. in African-American studies from Boston University and an Ed.D. in higher education from Nova Southeastern University.
Current Dean of Students Barbara Moore will become the inaugural Charles Terrell Dean of Students.
Greene noted the irony of naming the position after Terrell, because his activism as a student challenged and demanded the attention of the administration. “And now all deans going forward will carry his name,” Greene said.