WATERVILLE — Colby College has received a $1.5 million gift to benefit the Waterville school’s initiatives in arts and athletics.

Kate Lucier O’Neil, a 1985 Colby graduate, and her husband, Ford E. O’Neil, made the donation, according to Colby officials.

New spaces at the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center and the forthcoming Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts will have the O’Neil name.

“The support Kate and Ford have demonstrated for Colby is deeply meaningful because they have spent their careers focused on thorough analysis of organizations’ strength and viability,” Colby President David A. Greene said.

“They see how the return on these investments will be long-lasting and profound, allowing our students to create the very best lives for themselves at and beyond Colby.”

Kate O’Neil served on the Colby board of trustees from 2000 to 2006, and on the board of visitors from 1998 to 2002. She was director of investment relations at Bain Capital, an alternative asset management firm. She now focuses on philanthropy and investments, including a position as a nonmanagement director at Franklin Street Properties.


Ford O’Neil has been with Fidelity Investments in Boston for 30 years.

The O’Neils’ gift to the athletic center will go to programming at the O’Neil Family Wellness Studios. The adjoining, flexible fitness studios sit in an overlook of the aquatic center. Group exercise activities will be held in the studios, which have floor-to-ceiling windows.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with these studios,” Kate O’Neil said. “They are zen-like retreats where we hope many in the Colby community will benefit from making a mind-body connection and be able to recharge and prepare for their next challenge.”

The Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts is on track to open in the fall of 2023. A signature music room and grand piano will be named in the O’Neils’ honor.

“It’s a beautiful room overlooking hiking and cross-country skiing trails on campus,” Kate O’Neil said. “It’s a place where students can go to either collaborate as a group or have a solo experience where they are working to hone a skill.”

The O’Neils’ donations have supported the O’Neil-Lucier Photography Studio at the Colby College Museum of Art, and an economics seminar room at the Diamond Building, both given in honor of Kate O’Neil’s parents — Richard G. Lucier and the late Helen “Penny” Martin Lucier, both 1960 Colby graduates.

“They always spoke lovingly and fondly of their Colby days,” Kate O’Neil said of her parents. “It was clearly about the people and the community, and they would talk a lot about their professors and the relationships they had. So from a very young age, I was aware this was a very special place to them, and not just because they met here.”

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