Colby launches historic campaign to support transformational education, innovative initiatives

WATERVILLE, Maine, Oct. 20—Colby College launched the largest fundraising campaign ever undertaken by a liberal arts college Friday, as college leaders announced they had already raised $383 million toward a $750-million goal.

The campaign, now entering its public phase after just one year of a leadership phase, will position Colby to continue to redefine the liberal arts, offering distinctive programs to connect students to a rapidly changing world and prepare them to solve the most vexing issues of our time.

Dare Northward references not just Colby’s current upward momentum, but its remarkable history.

Dubbed “Dare Northward” to reflect the bold and unprecedented nature of the initiatives and priorities it will support, the campaign will make it possible for Colby to introduce transformational initiatives, build on already strong academic programs, improve access to a Colby education for deserving students from around the globe, and provide outstanding new facilities that support a multidisciplinary approach to learning and connect the college to the community beyond its campus.

“Dare Northward references not just the current upward momentum of the college but its remarkable history, starting with its founders traveling up the Kennebec River to charter the school in 1813,” said Chair of the Board of Trustees Eric S. Rosengren ’79, P’12, noting that the people of Waterville raised the money to buy Colby the land on Mayflower Hill in 1930. “It was a daring move. Just as the country fell into the Great Depression, Colby’s leaders were willing to take a significant risk to secure the future of the college.”

In launching the campaign at the historic downtown Waterville Opera House, college officials announced two new major commitments to the campaign.

  • A gift from Trustee Bill Alfond ’72 and Joan Alfond to name the 200-student residential and mixed-use complex at 150 Main Street that will house a robust civic engagement and community partnership program and is the cornerstone of efforts to revitalize Waterville’s historic center.
  • A naming gift from Trustee Michael Gordon ’66 toward a new center for arts and innovation at Colby that will provide beautiful performing arts venues—a concert hall, theater, and dance studios—and that will serve as a creative laboratory for students and faculty across disciplines.

For campaign co-chair Bill Alfond, Dare Northward fuels his passion for both Colby and his hometown of Waterville, Maine.

“This campaign is about Colby’s commitment to its students in so many ways,” he said. “It’s about giving them the very best resources, and that includes this tremendous effort to bridge the college and the city in new and exciting ways. I am honored to be a part of that.”

More than 10,000 donors have contributed to the campaign to date, and the college has received 32 contributions of $1 million or more.

“When President Greene was inaugurated three years ago, he said, ‘This is Colby’s moment. This is Colby’s time,’” recalled campaign co-chair and former chair of the Board of Trustees Robert E. Diamond ’73, LL.D. ’08, P’12. “Today, as we publicly launch this campaign already well on our way toward our audacious goal, we can see how right he was. Colby is truly an extraordinary institution, and now, with the support of our alumni and friends, we will be able to take this great college to the next level, to the very top tier.”

Peter and Paula Lunder, at the official launch of the Lunder Institute in February 2017.

Major gifts toward the campaign so far include a gift of more than $100 million to establish the Lunder Institute for American Art, which was launched this fall with its first visiting artist, Theaster Gates. The campaign commitment from Overseer Peter Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98 and Life Trustee Paula Crane Lunder, D.F.A. ’98 included nearly 1,150 new artworks by artists such as Maya Lin, Joan Mitchell, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh and established Colby as the only liberal arts college with both an innovative art museum dedicated to cross-disciplinary study and a global research center for American art.

Another transformative gift—$25 million for the new DavisConnects program—set Colby on the path to make possible a global experience, internship, and research opportunity to every student. Funded by the generosity of the Davis family and a trustee of its charitable foundation, Andrew Davis ’85, LL.D. ’15, the program guarantees a global experience for every student, regardless of their financial background. DavisConnects turns the traditional career center model on its head and helps Colby students connect their education to meaningful experiences that complement their studies.

DavisConnects guarantees a global experience for every student, regardless of their financial background

Colby has also raised more than $100 million toward an all-new 350,000-square-foot athletic complex, now underway, and a 72-acre outdoor competition center that opened this fall. The new facilities are designed to fully support Colby’s athletes in their pursuit of comprehensive competitive excellence, enhance the college’s commitment to healthy and active lifestyles, and build on an already robust commitment to Waterville and the regional community by creating new opportunities for economic impact. The complex, slated to open in 2020, will be among the best Division III facilities in the nation and include an indoor competition center with a 200-meter track, the state’s only Olympic-sized pool, and a multi-level, 13,500-square-foot fitness center, connected to new spaces for yoga and other fitness classes.

“We launched the campaign a year ahead of schedule because of the incredible support we have received from our alumni, parents, and friends,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “It is remarkable and humbling to see the way our community is investing in our students, faculty, and staff. A Colby education has always been powerful, but it has never been more relevant and needed. The initiatives supported through this campaign will give our students every opportunity to lead in their chosen field.”

Colby’s mixed-use development, now under construction in downtown Waterville.

Launching Dare Northward in downtown Waterville aimed in part to symbolize the growing relationship with the city that has helped to support it over the centuries. In partnership with local philanthropic, civic, and arts leaders, the college is helping to revitalize downtown Waterville, and the results have become tangible. Colby invested $5 million to renovate a historic bank building, and a $25-million mixed-use development will open in the fall of 2018 housing 200 Colby students, faculty, and staff committed to civic engagement. Colby is also planning a hotel and restaurant to serve the Waterville community and visitors. Colby’s total investment in Waterville is expected to exceed $45 million, with significant additional resources being committed by private investors.

The launch celebration featured students, faculty, and college leaders sharing stories about the values supported by the campaign. President Greene returned to the stage at the conclusion of the event to reveal his own commitment to the campaign—the endowment of a financial aid fund in the name of his parents, Richard and Dolores Greene, whom he said instilled in him the passion for education that sustains him today and inspires him to make a great education possible to talented students from all backgrounds.

Just before brief closing remarks by Student Government Co-Presidents Elizabeth Paulino ’18 and Marques Houston ’18, Greene shared the story of Samuel Osborne, who worked as a custodian at Colby for 37 years in the late 19th century. Born into slavery, Osborne traveled from Virginia to Waterville, Maine, in 1865. He became a beloved member of the community, and his daughter, Marion Osborne, was the first African-American woman to graduate from Colby, in 1900—long before most of the country’s best institutions granted admission to women.

Underscoring the values of Dare Northward, Greene shared that the college is renaming the President’s House on campus. It will now be known as the Osborne House, honoring this remarkable family and Colby’s long history of inclusivity and deep commitment to community.