WATERVILLE — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will be commencement speaker May 27 as Colby College’s class of 2018 takes part in its graduation exercise on the Mayflower Hill campus.

Renowned artist Theaster Gates will deliver the baccalaureate address May 26 and receive an honorary degree, according to a Colby news release. At commencement, Colby will confer honorary degrees on alumna Rebecca Corbett, assistant managing editor of The New York Times, and Harold Alfond Foundation’s executive chairman, Gregory W. Powell.

A 1974 Colby graduate, Corbett led the team of reporters who broke the story that launched the #metoo and #timesup movements, according to the release. Powell’s vision and leadership have transformed the lives of thousands of Maine people and play a critical role in the revitalization of downtown Waterville, it says.

The degrees will be given for the recipients’ important contributions to society and culture.

“We are delighted to welcome and honor these remarkable individuals on campus this spring,” Colby President David A. Greene said in the release. “They have shown us the power of principled leadership, the potential for strengthening communities by revealing possibilities where others see constraint, and the promise of creative, persistent action to bring about positive change.”

Collins, a Republican who received an honorary degree from Colby in 2014, has earned a national reputation as an effective legislator who works across party lines to seek consensus on the nation’s most important issues, the release says. “She is 15th in Senate seniority, is the most senior Republican woman, and is widely considered one of the most powerful members of the Senate. For the past four consecutive years, she has ranked as the most bipartisan senator. Senator Collins chairs the Senate Aging Committee and the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and she serves on the Intelligence Committee as well as the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.”


Corbett was senior enterprise editor at The New York Times before being appointed assistant managing editor in 2013.

“She is known for editing some of the paper’s hardest-hitting stories, most recently demonstrated through breaking the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment story,” the release says. “Corbett is a former trustee of Colby College and a former member of the selection committee for Colby’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism. Prior to joining the Times, she was an editor at the Baltimore Sun.”

In the 1970s, Corbett was state editor for the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

Theaster Gates is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Biennial, and the National Gallery of Art. He is founder and director of the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on culturally driven redevelopment and affordable space initiatives in under-resourced communities. A member of the faculty at the University of Chicago, Gates works with the Harris School of Public Policy on issues related to creative development. He was the first artist in residence at Colby’s Lunder Institute for American Art in fall 2017.

A Waterville native, Powell is chief executive officer and president of Dexter Enterprises, Inc., a wealth management firm, in addition to being executive chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, the largest charitable foundation in Maine. Under Powell’s strategic leadership, the Harold Alfond Foundation has funded many initiatives to ensure the strength of Maine’s families, communities, and institutions, including programs to support higher education savings for all Maine children, loan forgiveness for graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs working in the state, and access to high-quality health care for Maine’s people. The approximately 480 students in Colby’s class of 2018 are from 29 states and 43 countries, according to the release. The majority of graduates have studied abroad and completed internships and significant scholarly research. They will go on to a broad range of careers and to graduate or professional schools to study law, education, finance, medicine, nonprofit leadership, and much more.

Commencement begins at 10 a.m. May 27 on the lawn of Miller Library, weather permitting. It is open to the public, and attendees who are not family members of graduates are asked to bring their own chairs. Any notice of weather-related location change will be posted at colby.edu, as will the link to a live webcast for those unable to attend.

Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges, according to the release. Serving only undergraduates, Colby offers a rigorous academic program rooted in deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars. Students pursue intellectual passions, choosing among 58 majors or developing their own. Colby’s innovative and ambitious campaign, Dare Northward, will support deeper connections between the College and the world and a fully inclusive experience for all Colby students. Colby is home to a community of 2,000 dedicated and diverse students from more than 80 countries. Its Waterville location provides unique access to world-class research institutions and civic engagement experiences.

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