our president

for more information

Lisa F. Tedeschi
Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Planning
(603) 526-3451

president's messages

More Students, More Programs, More Diversity

September 2008

Last year in my message to you, I wrote about some of the attributes of a Colby-Sawyer education. We are committed to developing our students' critical thinking skills; improving their ability to communicate orally and in writing; and encouraging them to take on leadership opportunities. A Colby-Sawyer education strives to enrich and deepen our students' self-knowledge; encourage their ethical and professional actions; and foster their capacity for understanding and employing multiple perspectives.

We have done much in the last year to improve the overall educational experience of our students, who remain at the core of our strategic planning. They are and will always be the reason the college exists, and we will continue to make every major decision by asking how our students will benefit. We provide our students an outstanding and personalized education that innovatively integrates teaching and learning in the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. So, what have we been doing in the last year to improve our students' educational experience?

More Students, More Programs, More Diversity

First, we have updated the college's Strategic Plan, articulating 11 broad goals. These goals relate to academic excellence, enrollment, student development, human resources, diversity, the Board of Trustees' involvement, advancement, town/gown relationships, communications, facilities and financial strength.

On the academic excellence front, we have added three majors: Art History, Creative Writing and Environmental Science. We have also added two minors, Education and Chemistry, plus a certificate program in coaching. In keeping with Colby-Sawyer tradition, our faculty has been engaged in fabulous teaching and advising all across campus. This fall we welcome our first Fulbright Scholar in Residence and 13 new faculty colleagues to Colby-Sawyer who will teach across a broad range of disciplines.

We have experienced a second straight record year of enrollment success. This year we received more than 2,300 applications, 400 more than last year and 200 more than our previous high. Last year we welcomed 381 new students, and on Sept. 5 we welcomed 406 new students for a total student body of approximately 1,000 students.

We are also working hard to make Colby-Sawyer a more diverse and inclusive community. In this regard, we have implemented the very exciting Progressive Scholars Program, a new partnership among the college and Cambridge Rindge & Latin School and Malden High School in the Boston, Mass., area. This year we will welcome 20 progressive scholars and four times as many international students as we usually attract; they come from China, Ghana, Ecuador, Germany, India, Mongolia, Norway and Vietnam. These students will increase our racial, ethnic, cultural and geographic diversity and bring great new energy, enthusiasm and perspectives to our college community.

In the last year we have seen increased student involvement across campus, from the outstanding leadership shown by members of the Student Government Association (SGA) as well as clubs and organizations. The SGA led an effort to modify our campus smoking policy, and starting this year, no one will be allowed to smoke within 20 feet of any building on campus.

Additionally, our athletic teams excelled in many areas of intercollegiate competition. Our women's alpine ski racing team finished second in the nation and the men's team was fourth in the nation. Our women's basketball team won their sixth TCCC championship. Finally, our men's soccer team and women's volleyball team competed in ECAC tournaments. Overall, our athletes competed with vigor and pride.

Wonderful Challenges Ahead

Of course, with enrollment success comes wonderful challenges. To accommodate our growing student body, we have completely renovated the lower levels of Colby, Shepard and McKean Halls. We have also restored Best Hall over the summer through roof maintenance, painting and general improvements.

We are currently engaged in two capital campaigns. The first campaign is for the new arts center. We must raise $15 million for a new center that will provide our students and faculty with the educational facility they deserve. We are also engaged in a $2 million campaign to design and construct a new, unified Windy Hill School. Windy Hill is our innovative and outstanding early childhood laboratory school, which is currently housed in two residence hall basements. We have received a $1 million challenge gift that, when matched, will allow us to house this amazing program in one wonderful home.

The college has also experienced unprecedented Annual Fund success, raising more than $1.6 million. As I have said before, both in person and in writing, a gift to Colby-Sawyer—no matter the size—makes an immediate difference in a student's life. A gift to Colby-Sawyer helps our outstanding faculty and staff to accomplish the wonderful job they do in educating and supporting our students.

Changing Lives for the Better: The Power of Encouragement

All of these exciting developments in the past year have helped us to improve the overall educational experience of our students. A very important part of that educational experience, of course, is academic excellence and rigor to which all of us at Colby-Sawyer are committed.

Likewise, we are committed to certain other less tangible attributes and opportunities that attending a small college like Colby-Sawyer offers. I offer these examples and stories to make my point. Looking back on my own educational and professional experiences, I realize how very grateful I am to have been helped and supported by many people, beginning with my family. There were many times when a kind word or suggestion either did have, or could have made, a huge difference in my life.

Hearing, considering and acting on a positive suggestion can change a person's life. My parents always told me how wonderful school would be and what a fantastic experience it had been for them, and while school certainly was not always a bed of roses for me, my parents' positive words created an image of school for me that made me look forward to my education.

I clearly remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, who was kind, intelligent, accomplished and professional. She was, in 1962, the only African-American teacher at my school, and her presence made a strong impression on my life about equality and the importance of great teachers to all of us. Her teaching made just as great an impression.

Mrs. Anderson stressed to my parents how their reading with me could and would improve my reading, which at the time was no more than average. My parents had always read to me, but following Mrs. Anderson's advice, they engaged in a more concerted effort for me to read to them, and I became a much better reader.

When my wife, Susan, and I and our children were packing for our move to New Hampshire two years ago, I found my report cards and saw one from second grade with comments from Mrs. Anderson. She wrote, in part: “I would like Tom to speak up more in class, but it may be that being quiet is the way of all scholars.” Given the life I have chosen, I was struck positively by her use of the word scholar. I think Mrs. Anderson was doing her part to shape my academic future.

When I was in law school, my father once told me he thought that being a law professor might be a nice life for me. In the back of my mind, I had always thought that I might like to be a teacher. During my third year in law school, my antitrust professor urged me to someday consider a career in teaching. That comment that I might someday consider becoming a law professor took hold in my mind and affirmed my own hopes and dreams of a life in education.

Later in life, after I had chosen the professorial route, a friend at Louisiana State University suggested out of the blue that I might consider becoming a law school dean. I did indeed follow that path, and still later, my chancellor at the University of Tennessee told me that at some point I should consider the possibility of a college presidency. I followed his advice, as you well know.

So what is the point of these stories? My teacher's commitment, my father's suggestion, my professor's urging, and my friends' recommendations made a huge difference in my life. By articulating what they thought I might be good at, they unleashed thoughts deep in my mind that I might not otherwise have entertained quite so seriously. They provided me with advice and encouragement that led me to a wonderful and deeply rewarding career path.

A Positive Difference in Students' Lives

One of the things I love about Colby-Sawyer College is that our faculty and staff are here for our students, just like my family and friends were there for me. They are here to provide feedback, advice and suggestions, to teach, to challenge, and to support. They are here to provide the intangible aspects of a great education, the kind words and subtle supports that can stir students to believe in themselves and to consider a more ambitious future than they might have thought possible.

Here at Colby-Sawyer, a faculty member might encourage a student to audition for a part in a play or to work at the radio station. That suggestion could change a student's life. Here, a resident assistant or a residence hall director might suggest a student go to a club meeting or get involved in the Student Government Association. A staff member or faculty member might encourage a student to attend an art exhibition or go see a film or listen to a poetry reading. The possibilities of what could result from these offered suggestions are marvelous to contemplate.

Here, faculty and staff support students by attending their athletic competitions, their art exhibitions and their theater performances, listening to their radio shows or reading their newspaper articles. Here, faculty and staff reach out to students who may seem to need a little extra support to succeed. That support, that compassion, that concern makes a positive difference in students' lives. These are just some of the reasons why we are all so proud and happy to be a part of Colby-Sawyer College.

Thomas C. Galligan Jr.

President and Professor of Humanities