My earliest recollection of being cognizant of Colby Junior College was when I was 10 years old and in New London visiting my grandparents. It was June, and with the house full, my bed was on their porch. At eight o’clock in the morning, I was awakened by the carillon that used to play from the tower on Colgate Hall. Little did I know then that some 50-plus years later I’d be contemplating retirement after more than 30 years of service to that very same college.
But, is it that very same college? Certainly the view from Main Street of Colgate Hall, flanked by Shepard and Austin to the south and McKean and Colby to the north, is virtually the same. As I drive onto campus, though, the feeling of familiarity pretty much ends. When I first arrived at Colby-Sawyer in 1962, the main campus’s southern boundary was just behind Reichhold. There was no Dan and Kathleen Hogan Sports Center, no Colby Homestead, no Library Learning Center, no Ivey Science Center, no Curtis L. Ivey Science Center, no Lethbridge Lodge, Windy Hill School, Danforth, Lawson or Rooke. Seamans Alumnae House – the location of my first college office, though not part of the campus then – has also come and gone. There were no male students, and no one who worked here then works here now.
I was part of the college when the names of the past, which now only live in the memories of alumni and former employees, were familiar faces: Lou Koory, Becky Irving, Nancy Draper, Barbara MacDonald and Marnie Kurtz, to name a few. We remember them and their dedicated service to the college and its students during their careers. We share their stories, and they influence us still. As with our faculty, each year staff members come and go, students come and go, trustees come and go. We’re a dynamic and ever-changing organization. No matter our role, we’re grateful for our time here and hope we’ve left a positive mark not only on the students we’ve served but also on the institution we’ve loved.
Whatever the adversity, our community has come together, rolled up its sleeves and pitched in to do what it takes to make things right and keep moving forward. This spirit doesn’t live everywhere, and it’s only one of the things that make this place so special, and why, though I’ve left twice before, I’ve returned.
In my time here, I’ve worked with six presidents and two interim presidents. Change and transition are regular and normal elements of business at Colby-Sawyer and, I daresay, every endeavor. I can, however, assure you that no matter who leads the college in the future, he or she will never lose sight of our most important work – serving our students in the best way we can.
Doug Atkins started at the college in Human Resources in 1977 and after six years became the assistant to the vice president for Administration and Finance. He worked in that position until 1987 when he left the college. In 1993, he returned as a senior accountant before becoming a database manager and then assistant controller. After two years away, Atkins returned to serve as the vice president for Administration. In 2013, he was named vice president for Human Resources and assistant treasurer. He holds a B.A. in American history, economics and political science from Eisenhower College in Seneca Falls, N.Y.