Colby College is on a remarkable trajectory toward becoming recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent colleges. Colby’s approach differs from other top liberal arts colleges through its clear focus on innovative and leading-edge programs that complement the traditional liberal arts—in areas such as artificial intelligence, data science, genomics and computational biology, climate change and the environment, the arts and humanities, public policy, and performance studies. Colby extends its reach, impact, and opportunities through external partnerships with globally recognized laboratories and medical facilities, arts organizations, and a wide array of business partners. The College has a deep commitment to its local community and is leading a $200-million revitalization of the historic downtown of Waterville, with technology, arts, medicine, education, and hospitality creating a robust economic base for a former mill city.
Over the last seven years applications for admission have more than tripled, making Colby one of the most sought-after colleges in the country. The College’s unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident in the rapidly changing student, faculty, and staff demographics as well as new programs designed to ensure all members of the community can thrive in this dynamic environment. Since launching its Dare Northward campaign in 2017, Colby has raised $650 million; when it reaches its $750-million goal, Colby will have raised more in a campaign than any liberal arts college in history. Since 2014, the College’s net assets have nearly doubled to almost $2 billion, its record of fundraising has moved to the very top tier of liberal arts colleges, and it has expanded the number of faculty and staff by more than 40 percent to support record enrollments. Stunning new facilities (including a $200-million athletics center and a $95-million performing arts center) have come online or are under construction.
Colby has a deep and longstanding commitment to its employees and is known to be an exceptional and important employer—a track record and reputation on which it hopes to build. Colby’s loyalty to faculty and staff was especially evident during the early stages of the pandemic, when the College maintained complete employment and benefits for all employees and provided full wages for all hourly workers despite some not being able to work full schedules. In the fall of 2021, Colby opened a childcare center in a newly renovated building on campus for children of faculty and staff. A major contributor to the local economy, the College is the second-largest employer in the Kennebec/Somerset county region, and its economic impact from 2014-2018 was $1.1 billion in the greater Waterville region. Colby employs more than 1,000 staff and indirectly supports more than 1,600 additional jobs in the Central Maine region.
The College’s first Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) will play a critical role in leading the next phase of Colby’s evolution, enhancing the College’s focus on its people and culture; and leading strategic, campus-wide efforts ensure Colby is both an outstanding place to work and an exemplary employer. We are looking for an ambitious and forward-thinking strategic partner in the areas of talent recruitment and development, reward strategy, organizational structures, community building and employee satisfaction, and diversity, equity, inclusion, among others. The ideal leader will help to ensure that Colby is always prepared to adapt to a changing environment and workforce and help to create a culture that attracts and supports exceptional people who are committed to the College’s mission. The CHRO will report to President David A. Greene, work closely and collaboratively with a diverse and effective senior team and administrative leaders from across the College, and be a key partner to a highly effective Board of Trustees.
Colby College seeks a strategic, innovative, and dynamic individual with a distinguished record of leadership to build a human resources function to meet the current and future needs of an ambitious, influential, rapidly growing organization.
Reporting directly to President David Greene, the Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) is a newly created role responsible for developing a responsive, innovative, efficient, and collaborative HR organization that supports and develops a highly talented and engaged workforce. The CHRO will join the president’s senior leadership team as a collaborative partner and will foster an environment of strategic thinking around employee engagement and satisfaction, organizational development, talent acquisition and development, and workforce strategy for the 21st century and through times of change.
The CHRO provides leadership for a team of (currently) nine professional staff and manages an annual compensation budget of $74 million plus a benefits budget of $26 million. The CHRO will be responsible for developing best-in-class functional areas including employee relations; assessment; organizational change management; culture of belonging; digital transformations; onboarding; total reward strategy; environmental, health, and safety services; and talent development programs to support the mission and aspirations of the College.
The CHRO will be a results-driven leader who can assess current systems, resources, practices, and processes and develop a vision for a modern and forward-looking HR function in a higher education environment. The CHRO will apply data-centered decision making to drive HR decisions, metrics to establish a baseline for measuring progress, and tools to evaluate results, assess impact, and communicate outcomes. The CHRO will be expected to share workforce trends including but not limited to succession needs, technological change, employee support, leadership readiness, compensation and performance-based pay, training, promotions, and turnover and staffing metrics.
This is an exciting position for a talented human resources professional who wishes to make a significant contribution to strengthening the quality of services and processes at a mission-driven institution that is undergoing significant positive growth and innovative change. The CHRO will be a credible and influential leader, mentor, and developer of strong cross-functional teams; will demonstrate a commitment to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive environment; and will maintain a record of success in managing large-scale organizational change.
The CHRO will proactively address the following opportunities and goals:
- Strategic vision: The selected candidate will serve as strategic thought leader, advisor, and partner to the President, cabinet, senior leaders, and the Board in the development and execution of best in class, integrated human resource strategies, programs, and services.
- Guide talent management and workforce development and planning: The CHRO will be a future-focused leader, responsible for the implementation and oversight of professional and workforce development and planning. With an appreciation for the high-performing culture of the institution, the CHRO will build capacity among and serve as an advisor to managers and supervisors, both long-standing and new, in employment matters such as leadership development, succession planning, and performance evaluation. The CHRO will assess and create, as necessary, a strategy that can assist in the design and implementation of a consistent and effective total reward strategy that attracts and recognizes top-tier talent to encourage the College’s valued employees and sustain their best work.
- Foster an equitable, diverse, open, and inclusive environment: The CHRO will be expected to provide leadership and expertise in identifying and implementing human resources practices that advance the College’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and to broader racial and social justice initiatives. In collaboration with senior leaders, the dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the campus community at large, the CHRO will play a critical role in ensuring that the College’s ideals of equity and inclusion are not only inherent in the relationships and activities of Colby’s students, staff, and faculty, but also sustained in durable and scalable institutional HR systems, practices, and processes.
- Advance employee engagement and satisfaction through community: The CHRO will work to further employee engagement and satisfaction through scalable, well designed onboarding programs, improved communication, transparent practices and processes, thoughtful commitment of resources, and strategies for talented staff to develop their skills and enjoy professional and promotional opportunities across campus.
- Build, develop and mentor a high-performing team: In this newly created role, the CHRO will strengthen a competent Office of Human Resources, ensure effectiveness of administrative functions and processes, and build and cultivate an HR team focused on operational and stakeholder satisfaction while demonstrating the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
- Oversee HR technology capabilities and implement data-driven strategies and solutions: The CHRO will develop key baseline metrics and tools to measure progress and growth. Using recently adopted digital tools, the ideal candidate will advance the College’s ability to streamline processes campus-wide.
The Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer will bring a proven track record of effective and progressively responsible senior leadership in human resources and of success in being a thought partner with institutional leaders. The successful candidate will embrace and model the highest ethics and integrity, support a culture of compliance, and demonstrate a commitment to creating a respectful and supportive work environment that prioritizes employee and job satisfaction and holds DEI values at its core. The CHRO will have demonstrated experience advising and partnering with leadership and executives, as well as providing metrics and insights to inform key decision-making. The CHRO will lead by example in modeling trust, open communication, compassion, and commitment to community.
The successful candidate will also bring many of the following personal qualities and professional qualifications:
- Ability to think creatively and strategically, to build consensus and collaborate across all divisions of the College, and to develop, articulate, and implement human resources programs that reflect organizational goals;
- Strong analytical and critical thinking skills and the ability to organize, develop, analyze, summarize, and effectively present initiatives to a diverse group of constituents;
- Track record of designing, leading, implementing, and communicating large-scale change management initiatives in complex organizations;
- Demonstrated sustained success building and leading high performing teams and developing and leading the talent organization – including recruitment, assessment, retention, and employee engagement and development;
- Knowledge of and ideally expertise in the laws, policies, and regulations related to the hiring, employment, benefits, and separation processes, including those unique to higher education; together with a commitment to compliance;
- Demonstrated record of continuous professional growth and improvement;
- An outstanding ability to communicate effectively across diverse audiences and build relationships both internally and externally;
- A preference for innovating and challenging conventional thinking coupled with the ability to collaborate, listen well, and to take the lead in problem-solving and consensus-building;
- Ability to thrive in a fast, high intensity, deadline driven environment where balancing multiple projects is the norm;
- Demonstrated record of foresight and ability to “think around the corners” to address the institution’s needs in an environment of change, including its workforce;
- Unparalleled personal integrity, ethics, and conduct.
A Bachelor’s degree is required, preferably in a related field; advanced degree is strongly preferred.
Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges. For the Class of 2025, the College received nearly 16,000 applications for its class of 667 students. With a nine percent admit rate and a median SAT score of 1520 for admitted students, the demand for a Colby education by the most talented students has never been higher. The College’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice is evident in its admissions practices and financial aid policies. Last year the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked Colby fourth in the nation among all private colleges and universities (between Stanford and Harvard) for the generosity of its financial aid programs for students with the highest need. Through the Colby Commitment, the expected contribution from parents/guardians with less than a $65,000 annual household income is $0; and, through the Fair Shot Fund, parents/guardians with up to a $150,000 annual household income can expect an annual contribution of no more than $15,000. Colby’s financial aid packages meet 100 percent of demonstrated need using grants instead of loans. The number of students of color at Colby has increased by more than 50 percent in recent years and the number of low-income students has more than doubled.
Colby’s liberal arts program offers the innovation and reach of a great research university with an integrated opportunity-rich student experience guided by close interaction with 260 world-class faculty. The faculty, like the student body, is diversifying at a rapid pace, and for the first time in its history Colby’s faculty has gender parity for those who identify as women or men.
The College is committed to transforming the model of liberal arts education making it more relevant, innovative, and connected to the world’s most important challenges. Several noteworthy recent investments include a 22-percent increase in the size of the faculty and the establishment of the Lunder Institute for American Art, the Linde Packman Lab for Biosciences Innovation, the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment, the McVey Data Science Initiative, the McFadden Fund for Humanistic Inquiry, the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship, the Pulver Science Scholars Program, the Schupf Lab for Data Visualization, a Mellon Foundation funded program in Environmental Humanities, and DavisConnects, a sector-leading hub for internships, research opportunities, global experiences, and career exploration.
The College’s wide variety of programs and labs provide students and the community access to unique experiences: the Colby College Museum of Art, arguably the best college museum in the country and certainly the finest with a focus on American art; the Center for Arts and Humanities; the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs; the Oak Institute for Human Rights; and through a partnership with the Wyeth family, opportunities to engage in research on Allen and Benner Islands off the Maine coast. In 2020 Colby opened the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center, the most advanced facility in NCAA Division-III athletics, and in 2021 the College launched the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the first interdisciplinary AI program at a liberal arts college. Additionally, construction is underway on the largest academic building project in Colby’s history, the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts.
The College’s partnership with the City of Waterville has led to more than $200 million in redevelopment projects and $1.5 billion in economic activity throughout the State of Maine from FY14-FY18. The College is directly responsible for five major projects on Main Street totaling $85 million, including the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons (2018), home to 200 Colby students who participate in an enhanced civic engagement program, a community meeting space, and new retail; a technology center (2017) with a leading computer engineering and consulting firm and new retail; the four-diamond Lockwood Hotel, which is currently serving as a student residence hall and will open as a hotel in 2022; Greene Block + Studios (2021), which features flexible performance and exhibition space and artist studios; and the Paul J. Schupf Art Center (2022), which will be home to a new Colby Museum of Art gallery and several community arts organizations. Additional projects by other partners include a major streetscape and transportation project, workforce and market rate housing, new retail, and a business accelerator.
Over the last four years Colby’s fundraising totals have ranked number two in the country among all liberal arts colleges. The College is committed to generating the revenue needed to support its plan for sustained excellence and innovation.
About Waterville, Maine
Waterville is a city with a population of 16,000 located just 75 minutes north of Portland, an hour from the coast and the Northeast’s top ski resort, and minutes from the beautiful Belgrade Lakes region. Waterville is home to Quarry Road, an Olympian-designed Nordic ski facility with spectacular hiking/mountain biking trails.
As described above, the city is undergoing a remarkable renaissance with technology, the arts, and renewed retail and services driving economic development. Since 2015, when Colby launched a collaborative approach to transform Waterville’s downtown, the city has experienced a resurgence in population, real estate transactions, property values, and new businesses.
Downtown Waterville is home to many shops, restaurants, bars and a well-attended farmers’ market with produce and products sourced from local farmers and craft artisans. Multiple medical facilities, Thomas College, and Colby College also lie within city limits. Arts and cultural amenities include the newly renovated historic Waterville Opera House, the Colby College Museum of Art, and the Railroad Square Cinema, which is widely considered one of the best independent film houses in New England and hosts the renowned annual Maine International Film Festival. The city recently completed a RiverWalk downtown and was awarded a $7.8-million federal BUILD grant to re-route and improve the traffic patterns and streetscape (sidewalks, plantings, and downtown park), contributing to a greater quality of life for residents.
To learn more about Colby College and recent news, please see their website.
As Colby College’s 20th president, David A. Greene is executing an ambitious program that has secured Colby’s place among the world’s finest liberal arts colleges. Under his leadership, the College has launched multiple transformative, multi-disciplinary programs and initiatives (see above); invested significantly in campus infrastructure, including computing technology, utilities, and major facilities on campus and in Waterville; become among the most-selective liberal arts colleges in the country; and been recognized as a national leader across several areas including financial aid, innovative academic and global programs, Covid-19 response, and post-graduation opportunities for students. During his tenure Colby’s endowment has grown from $750 million to $1.26 billion and the employee count has grown from 700 to 1,000. His contract has been extended until 2030.
Before arriving at Colby, Greene was executive vice president of the University of Chicago and, prior to that, served in leadership roles at Brown University and Smith College. At the University of Chicago he led an affiliation with the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole and establishment of the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics; development of new research and teaching centers in Chicago, New Delhi, and Beijing; revitalization of community and commercial areas in Hyde Park, near the university’s campus; and a master plan to support $3 billion in infrastructure improvements and expansion including residence halls, research buildings, clinical care facilities, and art centers.
Colby College is governed by the Board of Trustees, of which the President is a full voting member. Trustees represent a variety of professional backgrounds, regional locations, and constituencies, including alumni, parents of current and former Colby students, and friends of the College. Eric S. Rosengren ’79, P’12, retired president, and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, is currently serving in his last year as Board Chair. M. Jane Powers ’86, chief of staff and executive vice president of strategic initiatives at Fenway Health, serves as a Vice Chair of the Board and will be Colby’s first female Board Chair when she assumes the position at the end of this academic year. Colby’s senior leadership team benefits from the full support of its highly engaged and accessible Board of Trustees, and the College’s rich history and strong endowment are a testament to its trustees’ decisions, financial acumen, dedication, and service.
- 25,000+ alumni
- Annual operating budget of $235 million
- Endowment of $1.26 billion
- Approximately 260 continuing faculty
- Approximately 700 full-time staff members
- 714-acre campus, with 28 residential facilities, which provide housing to nearly 100 percent of students
- One of the first colleges/universities in the nation to achieve carbon neutrality (2013)
Amy Sugin, Beth Schaefer, and Holly Bogo of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Colby is a private, coeducational liberal arts college that admits students and makes personnel decisions on the basis of the individual’s qualifications to contribute to Colby’s educational objectives and institutional needs. The principle of not discriminating on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, pregnancy, parental or marital status, national or ethnic origin, caste, political beliefs, or disability unrelated to job or course of study requirements is consistent with the mission of a liberal arts college and the law. Colby is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and operates in accordance with federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination. Colby complies with Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in an institution’s education programs and activities. Questions regarding Title IX may be referred to Colby’s Title IX coordinator or to the federal Office of Civil Rights. We encourage inquiries from candidates who will contribute to the cultural and ethnic diversity of our College. For more information about the College, please visit colby.edu.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.