WATERVILLE — Colby College has received a $50 million gift from the Lunder Foundation to be used for student financial aid, the college announced this week.

The gift is one of the largest Colby has received and will benefit thousands of students and families over time, according to the college.

“A major priority for the college has been to open the doors of Colby to talented students from around the world and to ensure it is affordable for all of them,” Colby President David A. Greene said in the announcement. “Our leading financial aid program makes this possible, and it is only possible because of the commitment of the Colby community to access and equity. That has never been more true than today with this remarkable gift from the Lunder Foundation and its founders, Peter and Paula Lunder.”

The Lunders are Waterville natives and longtime Colby and Colby College Museum of Art benefactors. Peter Lunder, a 1956 graduate of the college, and his wife, Paula Crane Lunder, both hold honorary degrees from Colby. She is also a lifetime Colby trustee.

Colby College has received a $50 million gift from the Lunder Foundation to be used for student financial aid, the college announced this week. Above, Peter H. Lunder, right, and Paula Crane Lunder on Sept. 21, 2021, during the ribbon-cutting portion of the unveiling ceremony at Colby’s Greene Block + Studios at 18 Main St. in downtown Waterville. Colby President David A. Greene is at left. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

“While their contributions to art and medicine have been legendary, their hearts are with the future of our young people,” Greene said. “They know the value of hard work and of never letting talent go to waste. This gift is a manifestation of those values and will forever change Colby and improve the lives of untold numbers of students who will benefit from an education that will allow them to shape the world for the better.”

In 2017, the Lunders gave the Colby museum more than $100 million, which was one in a series of large donations from the benefactors that college officials said would help cement the region’s reputation as a world-class arts destination.


That gift, the second Lunder gift of more than $100 million, included about 1,500 works of art and launched the Lunder Institute for American Art, whose focus is the practice, study and exhibition of American art. As part of the institute, scholars, artists and curators work with students from all disciplines.

A key focus of Colby’s “Dare Northward” campaign is to ensure the college is accessible and affordable to the most deserving students, according to Colby’s announcement this week about the Lunders’ recent $50 million gift.

College officials said Colby’s financial aid program is “among the most generous in the nation,” with its Fair Shot Fund for families earning up to $150,000 having to contribute no more than $15,000 annually, to launching a $0 contribution program for parents or guardians with household incomes of $75,000 or less.

“With a long history of supporting the College, the new $50 million gift from the Lunder Foundation will play a major role in expanding Colby’s financial aid program, allowing the best and brightest students to experience a Colby education, regardless of their financial resources, and graduate without student loan debt,” according to the college announcement.

The Lunders said supporting financial aid for higher education has always been one of their foundation’s major areas of interest.

“We feel that it is vitally important to provide the means for qualified students to have access to the life-changing educational opportunity offered by outstanding institutions of higher learning,” the Lunders said in a statement. “It is for that reason that our foundation supports endowed scholarship funds at 14 such institutions, including Colby.

“We are particularly pleased to support greater access to the Colby experience for deserving students. Since President Greene has arrived, we have admired his vision for Colby College. The Lunder Foundation and family are pleased to support an initiative of such utmost importance.”

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