President Greene and other faculty members spoke about new initiates and updates at Colby during the State of the College address on Feb. 8. The meeting took place in Page Commons, and students were encouraged to attend and ask questions or share comments.
Among the discussed initiatives were the improvements made to recreational athletics programs at Colby, a division that was developed in the last several years. Greene noted that the College had added 20 staff members to the Athletics Department.
“The experience overall has been much better than in past years when club sports were not as professionalized,” an anonymous club leader said.
They credited Tiffany Lomax and Nashid Bracy for their help which has made the operation of club sports much smoother.
“The creation of a master facilities schedule has reduced the number of conflicts between different teams and has made reserving spaces in the athletic facilities easier,” the anonymous club leader continued. “As far as moving forward, I think taking some notes from non-athletic clubs in terms of budgeting would be helpful. At the moment, club sports are not told exactly what the department can and cannot pay for … It would make it easier for us to know the exact amount we have as a club so that we can easily budget ourselves over the long-term.”
Greene also announced important upcoming changes to COVID-19 protocols. During Jan Plan, the school had 254 student cases and 87 faculty and staff cases. In light of declining infection and hospitalization trends, the College will be testing less frequently this spring and will be lifting the requirement for masks in most situations.
Colby is also undergoing academic expansions. This year, the College has a record number of faculty members, totalling 260.
Greene highlighted his goal of creating new majors and expanding existing academic departments in the hopes of adding 60 new courses to their curriculum. Going forward, Colby is also working to ensure that faculty will be better supported with greater research funding.
Regarding the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Greene emphasized the importance of liberal arts institutions taking the lead in the field of artificial
intelligence, which has been traditionally dominated by larger universities. Colby is the first liberal arts college to have a cross-disciplinary institute for artificial intelligence.
Greene also said that the money the College has invested in Waterville is fundamentally changing the city, noting that this is the first time since the 1970s that the Waterville population has increased. He spoke of the positive impact students have had on the Waterville community, citing civic engagement projects and students who work for the Waterville Fire Department.
Additionally, Greene touched on the expansion of arts programs and facilities. He hopes to make the College a center for studying American art and envisions Waterville as a national hub for the arts crowned by the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts that is set to open in the fall of 2023.
Greene also addressed Colby’s accessibility and affordability, stating that the school has invested more in this area than any other aspect of Dare Northward.
Greene also spoke of upcoming expansions to student housing. He noted that this year’s housing issues were mainly due to COVID-19 and a related policy decision which allowed students to take leaves and come back at their own discretion. New student housing projects meant to mitigate the housing crunch will be located along Johnson Pond and contiguous to Mary Low and Coburn.
In response to a student question, Dean Karlene Burrell-McRae ‘94 disputed student concerns that student-athletes are held to a different standard regarding College drinking policies.
She recognized that individual coach policies may differ, as each coach is responsible for curating a unique team culture. All, however, are aligned with the institutional goals of maintaining safety, and encouraging learning rather than punishment.
Max Schuermann ‘22, captain of the Colby Men’s Tennis Team, agreed with her statement.
“I think both the College’s and Athletic Department’s policies on drinking are pretty much exactly aligned,” he said. “There are no real discrepancies that I know of … My coach is in lockstep with Colby’s policies. He updates us when there are changes, and he changes his policies accordingly.”
~ Conall Butchart ‘22 and Veronica McIntyre ‘24