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Colby-Sawyer Timeline

1837-1853 New London Academy

1837 July 4
A legislative charter is granted by the State of New Hampshire to 11 New London citizens for the purpose of establishing a school in the town.  The eleven men who were named as the academy’s incorporators were Joseph Colby, Anthony Colby, Perley Burpee, Jonathan Greeley, John Brown, Jonathan Herrick, David Everett, Samuel Carr, Walter Flanders, Jonathan Addison, and Marshall Trayne.

Five acres are purchased by Anthony Colby, Perley Burpee, John Brown, and Walter Flanders for the Academy Building.  A public subscription was initiated to pay for the building and the New London townspeople contributed $1,000.

1838 May
New London Academy, a coeducational secondary school, welcomed its first students.  It opens with a student body of twenty six young ladies and one ten year old boy.  Susan Colby, daughter of  Anthony Colby, is the first teacher and lady principal.

1838 Fall
Fifty four male students join the Academy under the tutelage of the male principal, Dyer Sanborn.

The New Hampton Literary and Theological Institution moves to Fairfax Vermont and the New Hampshire Baptists, with encouragement from former Governor Anthony Colby and New London’s Baptist minister, Ebenezer Dodge, assume responsibility for  the Academy.  The new Board of Trustees is made up of twenty-four members, three-fourths of whom had to be from New Hampshire but not from New London and three-fourths also had to be Baptists in good standing.

1853-1877 New London Literary and Scientific Institution

1853 Summer
The Ladies Boarding House (later called Heidelberg) is built (on what is now the New London green) to accommodate up to forty female students and the female faculty.

The New Hampshire Baptist Association makes a slight adjustment to the school’s name, changing it to the New London Literary and Scientific Institution.

Anthony Colby purchases the original town meeting house and moves it to campus.  It is renovated to provide twenty double rooms for the male students and is called Colby Hall.

1870 July 7
The new brick Academy building is dedicated.  Located on the present site of Colgate Hall, the building provided dormitory space for one hundred female students as well as classrooms, laboratories, library, gymnastic facilities, chapel, dining room, kitchen, and laundry facilities.

1878-1927 Colby Academy

New London Literary and Scientific Institution is renamed Colby Academy in tribute to the on-going support of the Colby family of New London.

The first mention of an annual field day is made in the Colby Academy Voice although it is indicated that this is an annual tradition that the students look forward to.  Activities include baseball, tug of war, football, and track and field events.

1892 April 25
While students are gathering mayflowers in Sutton, a fire breaks out in the brick Academy building.  Although the school records, most library books, and some furniture and belongings are saved, the building cannot be salvaged.  After the fire, townspeople take in students until the old buildings are repaired.

The gymnasium is built between Heidelberg and Colby Hall.

Initially, there were four sports practiced at Colby Academy: baseball, football, track, and basketball.  The Academy played other high school teams in the area including Tilton, New Hampton, and Claremont.

Financed by Mary (”Mellie”) Colgate, construction of Colgate Hall begins. Colgate Hall is named in honor of the Colgate family whose members are dedicated supporters of the college.

1912 June
Dedication of Colgate Hall.  Houses female students, administrative offices, a library, dining room, kitchen, chapel, classrooms, and laundry.  The male students continued to reside in Colby Hall.

By the 1920s, the Academy added hockey to men’s sports.

Academy women began a field hockey team.  Field hockey was becoming increasingly popular and the US Field Hockey Association was founded in 1922.

Dr. Herbert Leslie Sawyer becomes Headmaster of Colby Academy.  He would later become president of Colby Junior College in 1928.

A new gymnasium is built to the west of Colgate Hall.  This gym will be reconstructed in 1965 and renamed Austin Hall.

After 90 years as a secondary school, Colby Academy trustees vote in 1927 to transform Colby Academy into a junior college and preparatory school for women.

1928-1955 The Sawyer Years 

1928 Fall
Colby Academy is renamed the Colby School for Girls and incorporates two years of preparatory school and two years of college.

There is a rise in women’s sports.  The College develops an equestrian program, field hockey, and all students participate in gym class.

Colby Junior College students form an Athletic Association which is responsible for many of the events at the College including Mountain Day, Winter Carnival, and May Day.  It also has several clubs under it including the Boot and Saddle Club, the Outing Club, and the Health Club.

By the end of the 1930s, there are two varsity sports: field hockey and basketball.

1930 June
Fourteen young women receive the first associate degrees conferred by Colby School for Girls.

McKean Hall is built, and is named for Dr. Horace G. McKean, Colby Academy’s headmaster from 1899 to 1905.

A new residence hall is built and named Colby Hall in honor of the Colby Family.

Shepard Hall is built in honor of one of the original New London families who were trustees of the Academy and the College.

1933 April
By an act of the New Hampshire Legislature, Colby School for Girls is changed to Colby Junior College for Women.  The preparatory courses are phased out.

Colby Athletic Association Lodge is erected on the shores of Little Lake Sunapee. “The contractor took down the old Colby Hall and used the beams, which had been put into the building when it was the town’s first meeting house, as the framework of the new Lodge.” (Rowe, The First Century of Colby).

Burpee Hall is built in honor of one of the Burpee family, one of the original founders the Academy.  It includes a new library and additional wings are added in 1934 and 1935.  The hall housed the library collection until 1949.

The Centennial Celebration is held, and it strengthens Colby Junior College’s place in the educational field. President Sawyer and Miss Doris Nielsen, President of the Class of 1937 seal materials in a copper box to be opened in June 2037.

1937 March
The President’s Home, a gift from Mary Colgate, officially opens, and Dr. and Mrs. Sawyer are the first residents.

Page Hall is built, and is named for Reverend Charles L. Page, class of 1880 and a member and chair of the Board of Trustees for 40 years.

Abbey Hall is built and dedicated to the memory of Charles Clinton Abbey, husband of Emily F. Abbey Gill, benefactress of colleges and secondary schools, especially those dedicated to the education of women.

Colbytown Camp, an interracial, interfaith institution, is established at Colby Lodge on Little Lake Sunapee as a summer retreat for refugee children from war-torn Europe.  After the war, it becomes a place for disadvantaged young American girls, counseled by Colby Junior College students, to experience nature in a supportive environment.

1941 October 18
Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, visits the College and gives a speech to the community at the Baptist Church. Her visit is arranged by the Committee of  Public Affairs and brings wide publicity to the College.

The college offers its first bachelor degree after an amendment to the College Charter by the New Hampshire General Court grants Colby Junior College the privilege of “granting all degrees ordinarily conferred by senior colleges.”

1944 June
Ellen Marron and Phoebe Neal receive the first bachelor’s degrees conferred at Colby Junior College. They are Medical Technician students who have completed internships at accredited hospitals.

The Gordon Research Conference begins.

President Sawyer begins a sabbatical leave system for the faculty.

The Library-Commons building is designed and constructed on the south side of the Quad to provide dining room facilities and library space. The Fernald Library honors Josiah E. Fernald, Endowment Treasurer and senior member of the Finance Committee.

The College adds cheerleading, skiing, and basketball to its list of sports.

1951 April 19
The first television is installed on campus so students can watch General McArthur speak before Congress.

Best Hall is built and dedicated to the memory of Dr. Samuel M. Best, Chairman of the board of Trustees (1933-1968).

William T. Baird Health and Counseling Center opens.

1955-1962 The Austin Years

Dr. Eugene M. Austin is appointed President of Colby Junior College for Women.  During his time at the College, president Austin improved benefits, raised salaries, established tenure, and aided in finding faculty housing near campus.

Portico facing quad added to Colgate.

The Sawyer Center, a fine arts center dedicated to Dr. and Mrs. Herbert Leslie Sawyer, opens.

The Athletic Association begins sponsoring winter ski trips.

The Marion Mugar Art Gallery Building, an applied arts addition, adjoins Sawyer Center; a gift of Stephen P. Mugar, honoring his wife Marion Graves Mugar.

The “old” Academy Building, built in 1838, is restored.

1962 June 16
President Austin passes away suddenly from Leukemia.

1962-1972 The Woodman Years

Dr. Everett M. Woodman is appointed President of Colby Junior college for Women.

1962 May
The Reichhold Science Center opens — a gift of Henry R. Reichhold, parent and friend.

1962 June
Celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the College.

The Sports Science Center, a new gymnasium, is built. This building is later known as HESS (Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences).  Today, it is known as Mercer Hall.

The College receives the coveted annual award for outstanding historical work in the United States from the American Association for State and Local History for the restoration of the old Academy Building.

The old gymnasium is renovated and refurbished as a residence for 33 students, and renamed Austin Hall in honor of former Colby Junior College president, Dr. Eugene M. Austin.

Volleyball, tennis, and badminton are added as varsity sports.

1972-1977 The Vaccaro Years 

Dr. Louis C. Vaccaro is appointed President of Colby Junior College for Women.

The Board of Trustees changes the name of the College to Colby College-New Hampshire. At this time the College is offering two, three, and four year degree options, and changes its name “to accommodate the diversity of interests among the students.”

It is reported to the Board of Trustees that the college faces a lawsuit by Colby College, in Maine, regarding its name.

The Board of Trustees, choosing to honor the College’s first president, Dr. Herbert Leslie Sawyer, votes to change the name to Colby-Sawyer College.

With the new name for the College, came a new name for our athletic teams: the Chargers.

With the help of the New London community, Colby-Sawyer College acquires Seamans Alumni House, the former Cranehurst Inn.

A child study lab school is established as a site for teacher internships and student practica. It is named Windy Hill School.

1978-1985 The Muller Years 

Dr. H. Nicholas Muller, III, is appointed President of Colby-Sawyer College.

Soccer and lacrosse were added and basketball returned, having been dropped for a couple of decades.

Colby Homestead is purchased by the College.

The Chargers Club is founded to support the athletics program at the College.

Dedication of the Susan Colgate Cleveland Library.  Named for the granddaughter of the institution’s first teacher, long-time trustee, and benefactor. Two pre-Civil War barns attached to the Colby Homestead form the heart of the complex.

1986-1995 The Stock Years

Dr. Peggy A. Stock becomes the sixth President of Colby-Sawyer College. She is the first woman to hold this position.

1987 May
The New Campus Center, located in the old Fernald Library building, is opened. Wheeler Hall, the lounge and dining area, is dedicated to Wayne K. Wheeler, Treasurer of the College (1937-1971).

1987 June
The Susan Colgate Cleveland Library/Learning Center receives the award of excellence in Library architecture from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association.

1987 July
Colby-Sawyer begins celebration of its Sesquicentennial Anniversary (1837-1987).

The First Annual Women’s Symposium is held at the College.

1988 April 19
New Hampshire Governor John Sununu declares this date as Susan Colby Day to celebrate the first principal of New London Academy and asks all citizens to recognize the many contributions Colby-Sawyer has made to the Granite State during its 150-year history.

The Academic Development Center opens its doors in the historic James House, which was originally built as a powerhouse for Colgate Hall.

The Career Development Center and Counseling Services opens in the newly renovated Caretaker’s Cottage. The cottage was built in 1930 to house the farm manager of Colby Homestead.

The Board of Trustees announces that Colby-Sawyer College will admit men beginning in the Fall of 1990, thus returning the College to its heritage of co-education.

The core curriculum is reviewed and revised to bridge academic disciplines.

The first co-educational class in Colby-Sawyer’s history as a college is admitted. Of 212 entering freshmen, 68 are men (32%).

Men’s athletic teams are quickly formed, including soccer and basketball.

The Ware Campus Center, formerly the Library-Commons building, is dedicated to Judge Martha Ware.

The Hogan Sports Center opens, and is dedicated to Daniel and Kathleen Hogan.

The Kelsey Tennis courts open.

The Annual Fund passes the one million mark for the first time, with a total of $1,058,707.

The Board of Trustees votes to create a Resource Allocation and Priorities Plan to extend strategic planning efforts to academic programs.

Plans are implemented to consolidate programs and ensure program quality centering around the fields of Health, Humanities, and Human Services.

Colby-Sawyer College graduates its first co-educational class.

Mercer Field is dedicated in honor of William and Ramona Mercer.

The dedication ceremony is held for Rooke Hall, a residence hall for 105 students, named in honor of the Rooke family.

Baker Communications Center is dedicated, named for Elbert H. Baker, distinguished in the communications industry and father of Martine Baker Anderson, Class of 1959.

1996-2005 The Ponder Years

Dr. Anne Ponder becomes the seventh President of Colby-Sawyer.

The Cleveland Colby Colgate Archives opens.

1998 January
New London is in a state of emergency as the Northeast is gripped by an unusually destructive ice storm. Over 33,000 homes in the region are without power for several days.

Lawson Hall, a student residence hall, is dedicated and named in honor of Charles J. “Chuck” Lawson and his wife, Joan.  Chuck served on the Board of Trustees for ten years, the last six as chairman.

Beams from Colby Lodge on Little Lake Sunapee are used once again on campus to construct the Lodge, a student area with a snack bar and recreation room.

Colby-Sawyer College donates the old Academy building, the school’s original building, to the town of New London. Following renovations, New London uses the building as its town hall.

The Community and Environmental Science major is added to Colby-Sawyer’s programs.


The Kelsey Athletic Fields open in honor of Bob and Pat Kelsey.

Danforth Hall, a residence hall for 102 students, opens. The hall consists of 10- and 11-person suites of double and single rooms, and also features a conservatory, a working greenhouse, and a seminar room. New Hall also houses the Institute for Community and Environment and provides a study center for Honors Program students. Additionally, the Patricia D. Kelsey Tennis Courts were relocated to an area of campus between the Lodge and the Colby Farm, with a commanding view of Kearsarge Mountain.

The former Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences Center (HESS) building is extensively renovated and renamed Mercer Hall, in honor of benefactors William C. Mercer and Ramona Wells Mercer ‘41. Home of the Exercise and Sport Sciences Department, the building includes refurbished classrooms, laboratories, a renovated gymnasium, and office space for faculty, staff, and student assistants.

The first endowed faculty chairs are created.

The Curtis L. Ivey Science Center opens.

The Lodge is renamed the Lethbridge Lodge in honor of trustee and friend, George “Bud” Lethbridge.

The college’s largest capital campaign, *Confidently Colby-Sawyer: Succeeding Together*, exceeds its $40 million goal with a total of $42.6 million.

2006-2016 The Galligan Years

Thomas C. Galligan is appointed Colby-Sawyer College’s eighth president.

The Athletics Hall of Fame is established to honor athletic excellence.

2008 January
Seamans Alumni House is burned in a training operation by the New London Fire Department after it was determined to be an unhealthy working environment.

The college hosts Isaac Nyamongo of the University of Nairobi, Kenya, the college’s first Fulbright scholar in residence.

2008 December
An ice storm  hits, knocking out Colby-Sawyer’s power and sending students home early with finals to make up in spring semester.

New graphic design lab opens in Reichhold.

The Academic Development Center and Harrington Center move into the Susan C. Cleveland Library/Learning Center.

The first year of the new Global Beginnings program begins with students in Strasbourg, France and Florence, Italy.

Construction begins on the new Windy Hill School.

Sue’s Sugar House opens.  It is a student run maple sugaring operation on campus. Students participate in all processes of making maple syrup along with learning the history and up to date techniques for sugaring.

2010 Summer
Pemaculture garden opens behind the Susan Colgate Cleveland Library/Learning Center

2010 Fall
The new Windy Hill school opens.  The school is the college’s first building designed and built for LEED certification, which attests to high performance in human and environmental health, energy efficiency and sustainable development.

2011 Summer 
Colby-Sawyer introduces online summer courses.

2011 November 12
Colby-Sawyer hosts the New Hampshire Women’s Caucus, an event focused on critical issues for women and families.

2012 February 12
Ware Center Remodel Begins

2012 March
Colby-Sawyer introduces its new visual identity, which include a new logo and tagline that will be implemented across the college. The new identity appeared in the newly designed Colby-Sawyer Magazine.

2012 July
Wind turbine is installed near the library.  The 50-foot tall Skystream 3.7 is a residential scale unit and Colby-Sawyer was one of the first institutions in the area to install such a turbine.

A total of 517 solar photovoltaic panels are installed on the roofs of four campus buildings: Windy Hill School, Curtis L. Ivey Science Center, Lawson Hall and Lethbridge Lodge.

2012 July 4
Colby-Sawyer College begins its celebration of its 175th year as an institution of teaching and learning.

2013 March 5
Grand reopening of the Ware Student Center. Renovations transform the building into a modern student center, with 12,752 sq. feet of renovated space and 14,020 sq. feet of new construction. The project began shortly after Commencement in May 2012 and was completed in early February 2013.

2013 Fall
New sustainable classroom opens. It is the first commercial straw bale insulated building in the state of New Hampshire.

2013 October 17
Dedication of the Sally Shaw Veitch Track and Field, including new turf field and to rechristen the Kelsey Athletic Fields as the Kelsey Athletic Campus.

2015 February
Pub in Lethbridge Lodge opens.

2015 Summer
Testing Center opens in the Susan Colgate Cleveland Library/Learning Center.

McKean Hall is renovated and reopened as the home for the School of Health Professionals.

Third floor of Colgate Hall is renovated and the new Nursing Lab opens.

The quad is closed to vehicular traffic.

2016 March
Susan D. Stuebner, Ed.D., is named the ninth president of Colby-Sawyer College and will assume responsibilities on July 1st.

2016 May
Pub renamed in honor of President Galligan.

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