WATERVILLE — Colby College announced Thursday the establishment of a center to help speed scientific discovery, provide a leading edge educational program and support use of computational tools and methods across the college’s curriculum.

The McVey Center for Computational and Data Sciences is being funded with a $10 million gift from Richard M. McVey, a member of Colby’s board of trustees, and joins the college’s Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence in offering scholarly and teaching resources unparalleled in a liberal arts setting, according to Colby officials.

McVey is executive chairman of MarketAxess Holdings Inc. He founded the company in 2000, and has developed MarketAxess into a leading electronic platform for corporate bonds for global institutional investors and broker-dealer firms to trade a broad range of credit products.

The timing of the new center is critical as scientific discovery drives innovation across industries and transforms the prospects in a range of issues, from human health to the planet’s future, college officials said.

“Computational power and modeling are rapidly expanding human knowledge and driving revolutionary change,” Colby President David A. Greene said in the college’s written announcement to the news media. “This is certainly true in the natural sciences, but it is also rapidly changing many social science, interdisciplinary and humanistic fields. Marrying computation with experimentation, theory and qualitative methodologies has proven to be a major accelerant of discovery and learning.

“Rick McVey has been at the forefront of this work with the world-leading firm he founded, MarketAxess, and now he is making it possible for Colby students and faculty to pioneer new ways of learning by applying data science to a broad-based liberal arts curriculum.”

Greene called McVey’s contribution “a spectacular gift that both builds on current programs and opens the door for exciting new directions in teaching and research.”


“I could not be more grateful for his foresight and generosity,” Greene said.

The new center is expected to provide Colby students the computational and data science knowledge and practical expertise that employers in nearly every sector demand, while offering faculty significant resources and support to integrate those powerful tools into their courses and research, according to college officials.

The center, whose location on campus has yet to be decided, is also expected to enable Colby to launch applied fields of study that are likely to include public health, biomedical engineering and environmental engineering.

The college’s announcement said the McVey Center for Computational and Data Sciences is “part of a broader set of planned investments in programs and facilities that will make Colby a national leader in scientific education and a key science hub in Maine that addresses the state’s needs and fuels Maine’s growing innovation ecosystem.”

Colby has made significant investments in the computational and data sciences over the past several years, including a series of new majors offered in data science, computational biology and environmental computation, according to officials.

The Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the first cross-disciplinary institute for AI at a liberal arts college, was launched.

In 2019, Colby, with a $2 million gift from McVey, developed an initiative focusing on integrating data science across the curriculum.

“It is exciting to support Colby’s expansive programming for computational and data science and AI,” McVey said in the college’s announcement. “What is most compelling to me is the multiplier effect of this gift for Colby students and faculty, including the research opportunities it will create. Data science skills and domain knowledge are both essential across all majors to prepare students for successful careers in today’s economy.”

The McVey Center is expected to be part of a future comprehensive sciences complex at Colby, according to the college. The center is also intended to contribute to the growing technology ecosystem in Maine, including attracting businesses and research.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story