Colby College

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Colby College
200 px
Seal of Colby College
Motto Lux Mentis Scientia (Latin)
Motto in English
Knowledge [is] the Light of the Mind
Established 1813
Type Private
Endowment Increase $740 million (2014) [1]
President David A. Greene
Academic staff
171 full time and 48 part time
Undergraduates 1,825
Location Waterville, Maine, USA
Campus Rural
Athletics 32 varsity teams, 11 club teams
Colors      Colby Blue
     Priscilla Grey
Mascot Mule

Colby College is a private liberal arts college located on Mayflower Hill in Waterville, Maine, USA. Founded in 1813, it is the 12th-oldest independent liberal arts college in the United States. Colby was the first all-male college in New England to accept female students in 1871.[2]

Approximately 1,800 students from more than 60 countries are enrolled annually. The college offers 54 major fields of study and 30 minors. The 2015 annual ranking of U.S. News & World Report categorizes it as 'most selective' and rates it tied for the 15th best liberal arts college in the nation.[3] In part because of Colby's location, more than two thirds of Colby students participate in study abroad programs. Colby College competes in the NESCAC conference.



File:The formative period in Colby's history.djvu On February 27, 1813, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted a petition to establish the Maine Literary and Theological Institution, the 33rd chartered college in the United States.[4] The petition was led by Baptists who had come to the region for missionary work, and who wanted to train their own ministers, to end the reliance on England for providing men of learning. From 1816-1818, the new institution found a home in Waterville on 179 acres of land donated by citizens. In 1818, trustees assigned the institution to Rev. Jeremiah Chaplin, a Baptist theologian. Chaplin arrived in Waterville in the summer of 1818 with his family and seven students, including George Dana Boardman, the institution's first graduate. They were put up in a vacant Waterville home, and in that home the first classes were held.[4]

After Maine separated from Massachusetts in 1820, the first Maine legislature affirmed the Massachusetts charter for the institution, but made significant changes. Students could no longer be denied admission based on religion, the institution was prohibited from applying a religious test when selecting board members, and the trustees now had the authority to grant degrees. A turning point, the Maine Literary and Theological Institution was renamed Waterville College on February 5, 1821. In 1822, Elijah Parish Lovejoy, who would become a celebrated martyr to emancipation and to freedom of the press, graduated as valedictorian. In 1825, the theological department was discontinued.[5] In 1828 the trustees decided to turn the somewhat informal preparatory department of the college into a separate school, to which was given the name Waterville Academy (most recently called the Coburn Classical Institute.[6]

In 1833, Rev. Rufus Babcock became Colby's second president, and students formed the nation’s first college-based anti-slavery society.[7] In 1845, the college's first Greek Society was formed, a chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon, which was followed by chapters of Zeta Psi in 1850 and Delta Upsilon in 1852.[8]

The oldest known photograph of Colby, a daguerreotype taken in 1856 of the three central buildings on campus: South College, Recitation Hall, and North College.

During the Civil War, many young men were called away from school to join the fight; from Waterville College, Richard C. Shannon, Henry C. Merriam, and Benjamin Butler. Twenty-seven Waterville College students perished in the war, and more than 100 men from the town. In the years following the war, as was the case at many American colleges, Waterville College was left with few students remaining to pay the bills and a depleted endowment. Waterville College was on the verge of closing.[4]

Colby University

File:Colby University Logo.png
The emblem of Colby University, c. 1895

On August 9, 1865, a Boston merchant, prominent Baptist philanthropist and Maine native Gardner Colby attended Waterville College's commencement dinner, and unbeknownst to anyone in attendance except college president James Tift Champlin, announced a matching $50,000 donation that would allow the college to remain open. On January 23, 1867, the college was renamed Colby University in gratitude.[9]

Now on solid financial footing and just 16 months after The Battle of Appomattox Court House, trustees of the college voted to construct a library and chapel to honor the Colby men who died in the war, making Memorial Hall the first Civil War memorial erected on a college campus. The building began construction in the summer of 1867, and was dedicated at commencement in 1869.[4] At commencement in 1871, a Martin Milmore sculpture based on the Lion of Lucerne was added as the centerpiece of the building. The lion was brought to Miller Library from Memorial Hall in January 1962.[10]

In the fall of 1871 Colby University was the first all-male college in New England to accept female students.[5] The national Sigma Kappa sorority was founded at Colby in 1874 by the college's first five female students.[11] One of the buildings is named after the first woman to attend, Mary Caffrey Low, who was the valedictorian of the Class of 1875.[2]

In 1874, based on the success of its partnership with the Coburn Classical Institute, Colby created relationships with Hebron Academy and Houlton Academy (most recently known as Ricker College.[12] In 1893, the Higgins Classical Institute was also deeded to Colby - the last preparatory school that the university would acquire.[13] Students published the first issue of The Colby Echo in 1877.

Colby College

File:Colby College Old Campus Map.png
A map of the Old Colby Campus in Downtown Waterville, 1935.

On January 25, 1899, Colby president Nathaniel Butler, Jr. '73, having come from the University of Chicago, renamed the "university" Colby College.[14] In 1920, Colby celebrated its centennial, marking not the date of the original charter, but the date of its charter from the new State of Maine in 1820.

Franklin W. Johnson was appointed president of the college in June 1929. That same year saw the public release of the Maine Higher Education Survey Report, which gave Colby's campus a less than desirable review. Criticisms included a cramped location of just 28 acres located between the Kennebec River and the Maine Central Railroad Company tracks through Waterville, an aging physical plant, and proximity to the unpleasant odors of a pulp mill and the soot of the railroad. Using the report as justification, President Johnson presented a proposal to move the college to a more adequate location to the Trustees on June 14, 1929.[4] The campaign to raise funds for the move was immediately complicated by the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, and competing offers for the college's contemplated location emerged.[15] Most notably, William H. Gannett offered a site in Augusta - a financially attractive option for the college, but a troublesome prospect for the town of Waterville. Ultimately, a joint effort between Waterville citizens and the college raised more than $100,000 to purchase 600 acres (2.4 km2) near the outskirts of the city on Mayflower Hill, and the deed was presented to the college on April 12, 1931.[16]

Mayflower Hill

File:Mayflower hill colby college construction plan.png
The original development plan for the new Mayflower Hill campus, c. 1935

In 1937 and according to master plans drawn up by Jens Frederick Larson, construction broke ground on Lorimer Chapel, the first building on the new Mayflower Hill campus. In 1951, the last class took place on the old campus in Coburn Hall. In 1956, the Maine State Highway Commission diverted the proposed path of Interstate 95 to swing clear of the new campus to the west,[17] and in 1961, Parade Magazine called the 24-mile section of I-95 from Augusta to Waterville "America's finest example of a 'driver's road' for scenery, speed, and safety.[18] Colby installed its first computer in 1975 - a DEC PDP-11/50 in the Lovejoy Building.[19]

In 1977, Colby and TIAA–CREF successfully defended a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging sex discrimination in payment of retirement benefits.[20] Of the case, President Strider commented that "Colby is prepared, as we have always tried to do, to comply with the law, but it would be helpful to know what the law is."[19] In 1981, an addition to Miller Library added 42,000 square feet, increasing the seating capacity by 44% and the stack capacity by 64%.[21] In 1984, following an investigation of campus life commissioned by the Board of Trustees, a decision was made to withdraw recognition from Colby’s Greek system as it was seen to be "exclusionary by nature".[22]

William D. Adams was the President of Colby from 2000-2014. Major accomplishments included conducting the largest capital campaign in the history of Maine, which raised $376 million;[23] a new strategic plan for the college; accepting a major gift for the Colby College Museum of Art- the Lunder Collection of American Art - and the construction of a new wing for the museum to house it in 2013;[24] and expansion onto the "Colby Green" with the construction of the 44,000 square-foot Diamond Building in 2007 and the 36,400 square-foot Davis Science Building in 2014. Adam's final year was overshadowed by the controversial "renovation" of Miller Library, defended by Colby's Library Director Clem Guthro,[25] in which a majority of the browsable collection was shipped to storage. Adam's policy unleashed an unprecedented protest from faculty, and made Colby the center of a national controversy that included the New York Public Library.[26] Upon retirement, William D. Adams was appointed by President of the United States Barack Obama as Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

On July 1, 2014, David A. Greene took office as the new president of the college.[27]


University rankings
Forbes[28] 39
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[29] 15
Washington Monthly[30] 65

Students choose from courses in 54 major fields and have wide flexibility in designing independent study programs, electing special majors, and participating in internships and study-abroad programs. Colby emphasizes project-based learning.[31] Colby's most popular majors are Government, Economics, and Biology. Volunteer programs and service learning take many students into the surrounding community.

4–1–4 Calendar

The academic year follows a 4–1–4 with two four-course semesters plus a Winter Term session in January. The Winter Term, often called "Jan-plan", allows students to enroll in one intensive course, pursue independent research, or complete an off-campus internship.


Together with Bates College and Bowdoin College, Colby is one of three highly selective liberal arts colleges in Maine. In 2015, 22.5% of applicants to Colby were accepted.[32] The 2015 annual ranking of U.S. News & World Report categorizes it as 'most selective' and rates it tied for the 15th best liberal arts college in the nation[33] and 23rd for "Best Value".[34]

Forbes in 2014 rated Colby 39th overall in its America's Top Colleges ranking, which includes military academies, national universities, and liberal arts colleges[35] and 12th among national liberal arts colleges in 2012.[36]

Kiplinger's Personal Finance places Colby at 12th in its 2012 ranking of best-value liberal arts colleges in the United States.[37]

Colby was also named one of "25 New Ivies" by Newsweek,[38] named to the list of the top ten environmental programs by the 2010 Fiske Guide,[39] and ranked 13th by the 2011 Sierra Club rankings of America's coolest schools.[40]

Graduate school placement

Colby is very successful in its graduate placement of alumni. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal ranked Colby among the top 50 "feeder schools" of elite graduate institutions.[41]


Colby Students and Faculty receive scholarships for advanced study. Colby students have received scholarships including Rhodes Scholarships,[42] Udall Scholarships,[43] Fulbright Program grants,[44] Thomas J. Watson Fellowships,[45] Harry S. Truman Scholarships,[46] Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships,[47] Gates Scholarships [48] and others. There are 13 scholarships for which a particular Faculty Advisor is assigned to assist students in pursuing.[49][50]

The Goldfarb Center

The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement organizes Colby's engagement in the local community, the national stage, and throughout the world.[51] The Goldfarb Center has assumed responsibility for organizing and awarding the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award annually, established in 1952,[52][53] the Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award,[54] the William R. and Linda K. Cotter Debate Series, the Senator George J. Mitchell Distinguished International Lecture Series, and Colby's Visiting Fellows Program. The center also organizes Colby's civic engagement programs, the Colby Volunteer Center and Colby Cares about Kids. The college earned a top-25 listing on the Peace Corps' "ranking of colleges that produce the most volunteers."[55][56]

Off-campus study

More than two thirds of Colby's students spend time studying off-campus before they graduate. The college recognizes credits earned at over 200 off-campus programs in more than 60 countries.[57] Additionally, studies at four programs locations are recognized for inclusion in students calculated grade-point averages: The International Center for French Studies at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France; the St. Petersburg Classical Gymnasium in Saint Petersburg, Russia; The University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain;[58] and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.[59]

Colby also participates in engineering dual-degree programs with The Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University,[60] and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.[61]


Miller Library at dusk.

Colby's 714-acre campus is situated on Mayflower Hill overlooking the small city of Waterville, Maine, located along the Kennebec River Valley in Central Maine. Colby's campus buildings vary in age from the original Mayflower Hill construction in the 1930s to its newest building, Davis, completed in 2014. Most of Colby's buildings are designed in the Georgian Revival style of the original Mayflower Hill construction, but recent architectural additions have largely branched out.


Colby’s three libraries—Miller Library, the Bixler Art and Music Library, and the Olin Science Library—have a collection of more than 900,000 books, journals, microfilms, music scores, sound recordings, videos/DVDs, and manuscripts. They provide access to more than 100 electronic databases and more than 47,500 electronic journals. Computer labs, wireless networks, laptops, study areas, and a listening center are available for student use.[62][63]

Colby College Museum of Art

The Colby College Museum of Art was founded in 1959 with the building of the Mayflower Hill Campus. Admission is free to the museum, which serves both as a teaching resource for Colby College and as an active cultural institution for the residents of Maine and visitors to the state. It is notable for an entire wing dedicated to works by American painter Alex Katz, a particularly strong collection of American art, and its major outdoor sculptures by Richard Serra and Sol LeWitt. The museum is part of the Bixler Art and Music Center, a building named in honor of President J. Seelye Bixler (1942–1960) in recognition of his visionary support for the arts at Colby.[64] The most recent addition to the museum was the Alfond-Lunder wing, opened in 2013 to display the recently donated Lunder Collection of American Art, valued at over $100 million.[65] The gallery space in the museum now exceeds 38,000 square feet, surpassing the Portland Museum of Art and making it the largest art museum in Maine.[66]

Housing and student life facilities

Anthony-Mitchell-Schupf, a residence hall constructed in 1997.

Colby is a residential college and almost all students live on campus.[67] The dormitories vary in design and age; some are from the original Mayflower Hill construction, with the newest addition being the Alfond Senior Apartments. Room arrangements range from singles to quads and apartment suites.

Cotter Union is the center of student life and programming, and houses the Pulver Pavilion, Pugh Center for Multicultural Affairs, Page Commons audtiorium, and the Student Post Office. Mary Low contains the Colby Outing Club and the Mary Low Coffee House for student performances, Roberts houses student offices for the Colby Echo and the radio station WMHB.[68]

All meals and catered events on campus are served by Colby Dining Services, operated by Sodexo, which makes a concentrated effort to purchase foods from suppliers and producers within the state of Maine, like Oakhurst Dairy and others.[69] Dining-hall options include 4 separate establishments on Campus, plus the Marchese Blue Light Pub.

Athletic facilities

View of the Fieldhouse, inside of the Harold Alfond Athletic Center.

The Harold Alfond Athletic Center is the center of athletic life at Colby, and home to the Colby White Mules. It contains the Wadsworth Gymnasium,with a capacity of 2,600 people, the Alfond Rink with 1,750 seats, the Colby swimming pool, The Dunaway Squash Courts, the Boulos Family Fitness Center, and a field house with a four-lane, 220-yard track, and athletic offices, [70]

Surrounding the Harold Alfond Athetlic Center are the Harold Alfond Stadium and track, two illuminated synthetic turf fields, the Alfond-Wales Tennis Courts, three full-size grass playing fields, a baseball diamond, a softball diamond, and the Perkins Arboretum with cross-country running trails.

In addition to the on-campus facilities, the White Mules also utilize numerous off-campus facilities. The Colby-Hume Center for Colby's crew and sailing teams is located on Messalonskee Lake. Sugarloaf Ski Resort is home to the Alpine Ski Team, and is used extensively by recreational skiers from Colby because of its proximity to campus, about 50 miles away. The Waterville Country Club is home to Colby's golf program.

Green Colby

Colby's Biomass Plant, constructed in 2011.

In the fall of 2009, Colby launched Green Colby[71] to highlight Colby's environmental policies (carbon footprint, conservation, student involvement etc.).[72] The school has signed a number of official agreements to reduce its environmental impact, including the Maine Governor’s Carbon Challenge and the American College and University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). As of April 2013, Colby became the 4th institution of higher education to achieve campus carbon neutrality.[73][74] [75] [76]

All of the school's electricity comes from renewable sources[77] —hydro and biomass—with 10 percent of campus electricity provided by an on-campus cogeneration turbine.[74][specify] The college has stated that all new buildings will comply with a minimum LEED silver standard, and renovated buildings will also include green features.[74] The dining halls make an effort to purchase local and organic foods, and the elimination of trays has saved 79,000 gallons of water and 50 tons of food waste annually.[74][specify] Colby also has an ambitious composting program which processes more than 100 tons of food and yard waste annually.[74] On the College Sustainability Report Card 2009 Colby earned a B; Colby's grade was brought down by its lack of endowment transparency and shareholder engagement.[78]

Student life

Colby’s 1,800-plus students, evenly divided between men and women, come from virtually every state and more than 60 countries. Colby students are listed as 62% white, 18% unknown race, 14.5% ALANA (Asian American, Latino/a, African American, Native American), and 5.3% international (2009–10).[79] Colby's class of 2014 is the most diverse in its history, with 24% of its students being ALANA and 7% being international.[80]

Colby's was one of the five original schools to partner with the Shelby Davis Scholarship program for graduates from the United World Colleges, dramatically increasing the international student population.[81] Colby also participates in the Posse Foundation for multicultural scholars. In 2005, Colby was profiled by NAFSA's Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.[82]

Student organizations

Wiz Khalifa at Colby College - May 2011

The college hosts myriad student-run organizations, ranging from student-run government to a cappella groups and more.

The Student Government Association (SGA) advises and interacts with college administration on issues ranging from policies and procedures to class presidents and dorm heads; it is also responsible for allocating funding to other student-run organizations.[83] The Student Programming Board is the student organization which plans speaking events, concerts, dances and other gatherings.[84]

Other student organizations range from a radio station and a newspaper to the Rugby team, Woodsman team, the Colby Outing Club, and more.


The Colby Mules compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference, and the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium.[85] There are 16 varsity teams for women, 15 for men, and one co-ed team. The official school colors are blue and gray. Approximately 1/3 of the student population participates in one or more of 32 intercollegiate varsity sports. Colby also offers club sports and an intramural sports program called I-Play. As of 2013, 5 graduates have qualified for the Olympic Games.[86]

First year experience

In 1975 Colby instituted its first outdoor orientation trip. The program, which has been expanded to include on-campus orientation and is called COOT2 (Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips), now offers 52 trips in the fall semester and an ICED COOT program for those students who spend the first semester of their freshman year abroad. Destinations for fall trips include hiking trips at Acadia National Park, Mount Katahdin, and other locations around Maine; canoe trips on the Kennebec and Moose Rivers, along with other trips around the state. The various trips are designed to appeal to incoming students with a variety of interests and fitness levels and more "front country" trips have been added in recent years including service- and arts-oriented options.[87] The primary goals of COOT are to ease new students' transition into college and to introduce them to Maine's cultural and natural resources. COOT leaders are chosen from upperclass students who apply for these positions and are expected to help the students both during and after the trip with the adjustment to campus life.[87]


Notable alumni

Then-White House Chief of Staff, Pete Rouse, class of 1968

Alumni, now numbering more than 25,000, are represented in all 50 states and 75 foreign countries.[88] Alumni remain engaged with the College through alumni programs, affinity groups, and a directory and related services online, all offered by the Office of Alumni Relations.

Colby alumni have won eight Pulitzer Prize awards: Elliot G. Jaspin won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, Gregory White Smith won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, Robert S. Capers won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, Doris Kearns Goodwin won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for History, Alan Taylor won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for History and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for History, and Matt Apuzzo won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Annie Proulx (ex-1954) won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Seven alumni have served as state governors: four Governors of Maine: Lot M. Morrill (ex-1869), Harris M. Plaisted (1881-1883), Nelson Dingley, Jr. (1874-1876), and Llewellyn Powers (1901-1908); one Governor of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin Butler (politician) (1883-1884); one Governor of Florida, Marcellus Stearns (1874-1877); and one Governor of New Hampshire, George A. Ramsdell.

Other notable alumni include:

Notable faculty

Professor of Modern Languages, Samuel Francis Smith, 1834-1842.

Colby employs 216 instructional faculty members, approximately 90% whom hold a doctorate or other terminal degree.[89] Prominent faculty date back to the Baptists who founded the college, and have grown to include modern scholars like Jonathan M. Weiss and novelists including Richard Russo.


The President and Trustees of Colby College is an IRS 501(c) organization with over $1 Billion in assets in 2011.[90] Administration is made up of a president, officers, a board of trustees with faculty and student representation, and a board of overseers.[91] Since the founding of the college in 1813, four alumni have served as President of the College: Albion Woodbury Small, class of 1876, President from 1889-1892; Nathaniel Butler Jr., class of 1873, President from 1896-1901; Arthur J. Roberts, class of 1890, President from 1908-1927; and Franklin W. Johnson, class of 1891, President from 1929-1942.

Insignia and other representations

File:Colby college bicentennial seal.png
A special seal designed for the bicentennial celebration of the college in 2013

Seal and motto

"Lux Mentis Scientia", meaning "knowledge is the light of the mind", is the college's motto. A special seal was developed for the college's bicentennial celebration in 2013.

Alma mater

Colby's alma mater is "Hail, Colby, Hail". The lyrics to the song were written by Karl R. Kennison from the class of 1906 and it is sung to the tune of "O Canada". In 1979, the second line was changed from "thy sons from far and near" to "thy people far and near."[92]

Hail, Colby, Hail!
Thy people far and near
Stand at thy call,
Our Alma Mater dear.
Thy shaded paths recall our steps
To gather at thy shrine.
Thy memoried halls reclaim our hearts
Till all our thoughts are thine.
Hail, Colby, Hail!
Hail, Colby, Hail!
To thee we lift our hearts and homage pay;
Our Alma Mater, Hail the Blue and Gray!

In popular culture

In the movie Wet Hot American Summer, the reference to "the local college" is Colby. In the fifth episode of the first season of the HBO television drama series The Sopranos, Tony Soprano takes Meadow Soprano on a trip to visit colleges, of which Colby is one. In the sixth episode of the first season of the NBC crime drama The Blacklist, a Colby diploma is seen in the office of Walter Burris. The college also appears in the opening scenes of the film "The Myth of Fingerprints".


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Further reading

  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1927). Colby College, 1820-1925: an account of its beginnings, progress, and service. Colby College. OCLC 924564.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Chipman, Charles P (1912). The formative period in Colby's history. OCLC 1107623.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fotiades, Anestes (1953). Colby College (1813-1953); a venture of faith. Newcomen Society in North American. OCLC 32399076.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>}
  • Marriner, Ernest Cummings (1962). The History of Colby College. Colby College Press. OCLC 615822.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Marriner, Ernest Cummings (1967). The Man of Mayflower Hill: A Biography of Franklin W. Johnson. Colby College Press. OCLC 1129623.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Marriner, Ernest Cummings (1980). The Strider Years. Colby College Press. OCLC 6626982.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Smith, Earl H. (2006). Mayflower Hill: A History of Colby College. University Press of New England. OCLC 70167521.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Soule, Bertha Louise (1938). Colby's Roman, Julian Daniel Taylor. Colby College. OCLC 1679923.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Soule, Bertha Louise (1943). Colby's President Roberts. Colby College. OCLC 4122702.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Whittemore, Edwin Carey (1927). Colby College, 1820-1925: an account of its beginnings, progress, and service. Colby College. OCLC 906832.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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