Colby Residence Halls Named After Four Influential Women

Announcements10 MIN READ

Jacqueline Núñez, Carol Swann-Daniels, Jane Powers, and Paula Lunder will be honored

Colby's four new residence halls are seen here in the foreground, their wooden façades contrasting with the traditional red-brick buildings. (Photo by Maine Drone Imaging)
By Bob Keyes and Laura Meader
April 3, 2024

Colby has enshrined the legacies and amplify the stories of four women who have improved the lives of generations of students through their commitment to fairness, equity, and access by naming its newest residence halls in their honor.

The four buildings, which opened during the 2022-23 academic year nestled alongside Johnson Pond, will be named after Paula Crane Lunder, D.F.A. ’98, a life trustee whose generosity and kindness are lived values that have lifted the College and Waterville communities for decades;

Jane Powers ’86, the first woman to serve as chair of the Board of Trustees and a trailblazing advocate for the rights of LGBTQIA+ communities; 

Jacqueline Núñez ’61, who advocated for the College to enact a non-discrimination clause before it became standard in higher education; and

Carol Swann-Daniels ’69, who was one of two students to desegregate public schools in her hometown of Richmond, Va., and graduated from Colby committed to a life of helping others through education.

Colby will dedicate the Paula Crane Lunder House, Jane Powers House, Jacqueline Núñez House, and Carol Swann-Daniels House during an event in April.

“These houses will have a new life and a new identity in honor of these powerful women, who have made such a difference in the world and at Colby,” President David A. Greene said. “Their histories and contributions are extraordinary, and their stories need to be told over and over again so that all students who attend Colby know who came before them and how they lived their lives with such courage and grace.”

Naming the residence halls in honor of these leaders also represents the continuation of an ongoing commitment to amplify the stories of Colbians past and present who changed the College for the better, Greene said. “We have been identifying people in Colby’s history who have made important contributions to the College but who have not been fully recognized,” he said, noting the first such naming occurred in 2017 when the President’s House was renamed the Osborne House to recognize the family of Samuel Osborne, who was born into slavery and after the Civil War became Colby’s custodian for nearly 40 years. His daughter, Marion, was the first African-American woman to graduate from the College, in 1900.

“My wife, Carolyn, and I feel so much pride living in a house named for the Osborne family,” he said. “Every day we walk through that door and are reminded of their history.”

Approximately 200 students live in the sustainable, wood-sided residences, which were designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects to honor the aesthetic of houses across Maine. They represent a new phase of a larger plan for residence life on Mayflower Hill. The next phase of the Dare Northward campaign includes an investment in improved residential experiences and facilities for students. 

Jackie Núñez ’61

An idealist ‘in a very practical way’

As a student in the early 1960s, Jacqueline “Jackie” Núñez embodied the spirit of social activism sweeping campuses. At Colby, that translated into a proposal that challenged the College to take a stand against discrimination. The Núñez Proposal called for all campus organizations, including fraternities and sororities, to abolish discriminatory clauses in their charters and constitutions. It took two votes by the Board of Trustees to approve the Núñez Proposal.

Núñez came to Colby from Freehold, N.J. An English literature major, she made the Dean’s List, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and became the 1961 valedictorian. Núñez earned a master’s in teaching from Harvard in 1962 and was teaching at a high school in Bedford Hills, N.Y., when she became ill. She died March 22, 1966, from Hodgkin’s disease. She was 27.

Núñez helped make Colby a stronger and more inclusive place. “She would have done extraordinary things throughout her life, and now everybody who walks through those doors will know her story and what she did to make this College better,” said Greene.

Her younger brother, Peter, said his sister was an idealist “in a very practical way. … Her success was not surprising to any of us who knew her. The fact that she would take the lead in seeking a more perfect world at Colby was entirely consistent with everything she was.”

Carol Swann-Daniels ’69

The courage to attend school

At precisely the same time Núñez made her stand at Colby, Carol Swann-Daniels, then just 12 years old, took a courageous stand in Richmond, Va., that was integral in the momentum of the civil rights movement nationwide. In September 1960, she and another girl were the first Black students to integrate Chandler Junior High School. In the fall 1961, they integrated John Marshall High School.

They were harassed, subjected to name-calling, threats, social isolation, and worse. “Every day, sitting alone in the cafeteria, people walking up to her, pouring milk on her head, ostracizing and attempting to humiliate her. But every single day, she showed up and went to school,” Greene said, marveling at her courage and what she endured to attend school. “Having a house named after her is an honor for Colby.”

Swann-Daniels chose Colby because it was as far away from Richmond as her parents would allow her to go. She was among three Black students who graduated in 1969. 

She majored in psychology, and during her junior year Jan Plan she worked with students with special needs at a junior high school in New York City. That experience set the path for her professional life. After graduating from Colby, she worked for the school full time and spent her career as a special education teacher and computer technologist in New Jersey.

She died Feb. 14, 2022.

Jeffrey Daniels said his wife would be deeply honored by Colby’s gesture, which will have an impact on generations of students. “If she were still here, we would do everything in our power to make sure both of us were there during this unveiling,” said Daniels, who hopes to attend the dedication in the spring. “This would move her to tears. She would be so satisfied having this honor in place, knowing that someone had decided to acknowledge her in a permanent way.”

He and Swann-Daniels visited Colby several times over the years, stopping on their way to a vacation home in Nova Scotia. She showed him around campus, including a favorite spot in Lorimer Chapel. “Colby was a very important place for her. They treated her like a person there, and that was different. It wasn’t like what she was going through in Virginia. There were no cross burnings or the Klan. I am sure some people in Maine had their feelings about minorities, but it was not something that was broadcast on the news or something she had to worry about in the state,” he said. “She enjoyed Colby very much, and she would always tell me how glad she was to be there given everything else that was going on.”

Jane Powers ’86

Colby’s first female board chair

Jane Powers became a leader as a student at Colby and has remained a leader throughout her life. She double majored in psychology and human development, and she helped Colby reimagine systems of residential life and social life on campus.

She joined the Board of Trustees in 2005 and became the first woman to lead the board as chair in May 2022. She is chief of staff at Fenway Health and an influential leader in the field of behavioral health for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Powers said she felt humbled by the honorific naming, and she is mindful of many other women leaders at Colby. As a student, she lived for three years in Coburn Hall, named after Louise Coburn, Colby’s second female graduate and an advocate for the equal treatment of women. “I know about her because I lived in her dorm,” Powers said. “This honor is not about me, but about leaders who come from all corners.”

She has served the College for more than 30 years. Soon after graduating, she became an admissions volunteer and a member of the Alumni Council. She chaired the board’s People and Programs Committee, served as vice chair of the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee, and has been a member of the Board of Visitors. 

“This honor is long overdue,” Greene said. “Jane has been an incredible leader for the LGBTQAI+ community in Boston, at Colby, and beyond. In fact, her leadership knows no bounds. She works tirelessly to better the lives of others and is someone who has been a trailblazer from the very beginning.”

Paula Lunder, D.F.A. ’98

The heart and soul of the Board of Trustees

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Paula Lunder’s commitment to Colby is that she never attended as a student. She’s been a friend and benefactor nearly her entire life. She fell in love with the College through her husband, Peter Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98.

She joined the Board of Trustees in 1998, served as vice chair, and later became a life trustee. She has been on the Colby Museum of Art’s Board of Governors since 1995, when the Lunders pledged the lead gift for the museum’s Lunder Wing. They also endowed the Lunder Curator for American Art and the Lunder Curator for Works on Paper and Whistler Studies. In 2007 they promised their art collection, valued at more than $100 million, to the College, and provided an endowment to support the ongoing care and display of the Lunder Collection, as well as related research, programming, and teaching. A decade later, the Lunders and the Lunder Foundation established the Lunder Institute for American Art, associated with the Colby Museum, and the Lunders recently announced a $50-million gift for financial aid.

The scope of her generosity is monumental, but Lunder is being honored because of the size of her heart, Greene said, and because she represents the soul of the Board of Trustees. “What she does every single day is teach us how to be with one another, how to treat people with respect and gratitude, and how to care for each other.”

Lunder said her philanthropy has always been motivated by students, their opportunities, and their successes. Having a residential hall in her name and being in the company of such accomplished women is humbling, she said, praising Greene for building on the Colby tradition and taking the College to new heights.

“I was truly overwhelmed when President Greene announced the unbelievable honor the College is bestowing on me. It has been an honor to serve as a Colby trustee, and now I am to join three accomplished women and for all time be associated with Colby College, the institution of higher education that I love and admire,” she said. “It will be my pleasure to stand with Jane Powers to accept this great honor, and I will always carry the names of our fellow honorands forward. To President Greene, the senior staff, and trustees, I extend my profound appreciation for allowing me to be a part of the outstanding educational institution that Colby College is and to be a part of the great future ahead.”