campus news and events

In Memoriam: Alumna and Trustee Emerita Joyce Kolligian '55

Trustee emerita and alumna Joyce Juskalian Kolligian '55, a resident of Long Boat Key, Fla., and formerly of Winchester, Mass., passed away peacefully the morning of June 11, 2013.

A wake will be held 4-8 p.m. on Monday, June 17, at Giragosian Funeral Home located at 576 Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown, Mass. The funeral will be held on Tuesday, June 18, at 11 a.m. at the Holy Trinity Armenian Church located at 145 Brattle Street in Cambridge, Mass.

With intelligence, humor and grace, Joyce Kolligian provided wise counsel, fresh thinking and generous support to her alma mater for six decades. Joyce ended 18 years of service on the Colby-Sawyer Board of Trustees last month and was recognized at Commencement on May 11 in absentia with the college's highest award, the Susan Colgate Cleveland Medal for Distinguished Service, for her sustained dedication to the college and community. Joyce's daughter, Valerie Kolligian Thayer, received the award on her mother's behalf.

The daughter of Mehran and Queenie (Tekmejian)Juskalian, Joyce was raised in Medford, Mass. During her time at Colby Junior, she was active in student government and the Key Association, was a singer in the Buzzin' Dozen, and served as class president. She graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in 1955 and in 1956 received the Graduate Award, given to the member of the preceding graduating class whose character and influence most constructively affected the senior class.

Joyce married Michael Kolligian in 1960, and they raised two children. She remained involved in her alma mater and held numerous positions on the Alumnae Association from 1974 to 1980, including Annual Fund chair, Alumnae in Admissions representative, class agent, reunion chair and president. In 1980, she was invited to give the Convocation Address, in which she emphasized the importance of participation and leadership and encouraged students to “remember the instinct to care.”

“Joyce was an incredible person and a tremendous friend of Colby-Sawyer,” says President Thomas C. Galligan Jr. “She was intelligent, generous, creative, determined, fun and passionate about her family and her schools. Joyce is one of the rocks upon which the modern Colby-Sawyer rests.”

Joyce's commitment to the college grew as she joined the Board of Trustees, serving as an alumni trustee from 1982 to 1985 and a term trustee from 1986 to 1991. She was the executive secretary for the Executive Committee and chair of the Board's Advancement and Student Development Committees and the fund-raising effort Partners for the Future—The Next 150 Years. Joyce was especially proud of her roles on the Presidential Search Committee that hired Dr. Peggy Stock and the Research Committee on Coeducation. Her outstanding service was recognized by the college in 1997 with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

“Joyce was an astute businesswoman and a generous benefactor who cared deeply about Colby-Sawyer College. She was a wonderful friend and mentor,” says Anne Winton Black '73, '75, former chair of the Board of Trustees. “She showed that one person could make a difference and was profoundly dedicated to the students of Colby-Sawyer and the faculty. She was thoughtful, forceful and forward-thinking. She took seriously her responsibilities to hold the college in trust for generations to come, and she inspired those who worked alongside her to do the same. Joyce took much joy from her service and gave much in return. It is a legacy worth emulating.”

Joyce and Michael Kolligian also strengthened Colby-Sawyer through their philanthropy. In 1986, Michael established the Joyce J. Kolligian Scholarship Fund at Colby-Sawyer in honor of his wife's birthday. After Michael's death in 1998, Joyce created a second endowed fund, the Dr. Michael and Joyce Kolligian Scholarship Fund, as part of their enduring commitment to making a Colby-Sawyer education possible for more students.

“Joyce Kolligian was a passionate and respected leader. Because she loved her college, Colby-Sawyer was enriched by her philanthropy and by her clear thinking, persuasive style and quick wit,” says Vice President of Advancement Beth Cahill. “She was beloved by the college community, and by those who had the privilege of knowing her.”

Joyce was always active in civic and cultural activities. She sang in the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, served on the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, and led fundraising projects for the Armenian Church of New England. In 1982, she chaired a successful fund-raising effort for the Friends of the Speech and Hearing Foundation in Boston.

After her children were grown, Joyce earned a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude at Simmons College in 1987 and a Master of Business Administration degree with distinction from Simmons School of Management in 1989. At age 49, she established Carlyle Associates, Inc., a consulting business in marketing and communications. Joyce was appointed the executive director of the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston in 1998 and was awarded the school's Rappaport Alumnae Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Joyce returned to Colby-Sawyer's Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2013 and participated on numerous committees, including as vice chair and chair of the Advancement Committee, and on the Arts Center Steering Committee. In 2009, she established the Joyce J. Kolligian Distinguished Professorship in the Fine and Performing Arts, to which Chair and Professor of Fine and Performing Arts Jon Keenan was appointed.

“Joyce Kolligian was a tremendous supporter of the arts at Colby-Sawyer, and her ideas, energy and generous commitment to the institution touched so many of us,” says Professor Keenan. “I am deeply grateful for her friendship and vision, and her support in creating the Joyce J. Kolligian Distinguished Professor of Fine and Performing Art.”

Joyce is survived by her children, Michael Kolligian III of Florida, and Valerie Kolligian Thayer and her husband, Harvey Thayer Jr., of Massachusetts, and her granddaughters, Caroline Joyce Thayer and Olivia Harvey Thayer.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Joyce J. Kolligian Scholarship Fund at Colby-Sawyer College (541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257) and the Holy Trinity Armenian Church (145 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass. 02138).

–Kate Dunlop Seamans and Kimberly Swick Slover, College Communications