Changes made to the Goldfarb center leadership

In a school wide communication on Feb. 15, Provost and Dean of Faculty Lori Kletzer announced that Professor of Government Dan Shea has decided to step down from his directorship of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civil Engagement to return to full time research, writing, and work with students. Shea, a prolific author on the American political process, has directed the Goldfarb Center since he joined Colby in 2012. Prior to this, he created the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College.

Dean Kletzer expressed gratitude for Shea’s tenure as Goldfarb Director, noting his various contributions which have strengthened the Center’s connections to other departments of the College as well as institutions around the world. These include interdisciplinary initiatives such as the nationally recognized Community, Culture, and Conservation Conference, which brought together over 100 authors, scholars, and community leaders to discuss solutions to economic challenges of conservation.
Shea’s directorship also introduced an annual conference for student journalists, launched the Goldfarb Center’s annual student trip to Washington, D.C., and expanded the Center’s public policy and civic engagement activities through off campus initiatives.

For example, furthering the Center’s research of civility in politics, Goldfarb student fellows Nancy Mateo ’19 and Diego Hernandez ’19 participated in the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics’ (IOP) 2017 National Campaign to identify the causes of divisiveness in the 2016 presidential election.

The town-hall discussion, led by Harvard IOP Director of Polling John Della Volpe P’17, focused on steps the current generation can take to shift American politics to a more collaborative experience. Mateo noted that her ‘biggest takeaway from the conference was that despite affiliation there seems to be a consensus that America is on the wrong path in terms of civility in politics,’ and Della Volpe discussed the conference in a recent appearance on MSNBC, viewable on the Goldfarb website.

The Center also engaged in polling efforts to gauge the civility of political discourse in this past presidential election, which garnered national media attention for the Center and the College.

Shea’s communication projects included the creation of the annual Goldfarb magazine, various media partnerships, and a documentary film on the Colby Cares about Kids program.

Grossman Professor of Economics Patrice Franko will serve as the Goldfarb Center’s interim director while the College begins a national search for Shea’s replacement. Franko will oversee implementation of plans set for the Spring semester by Shea and his team.

This programming includes the Center’s annual three-day student trip to Washington, D.C., during which students will engage with experts on public policy issues, explore career opportunities in government and politics, network with alumni, and tour the capital.

Franko will also oversee several guest lecturers and panel discussions with the aim of continuing the Goldfarb Center’s insight into the present unfolding chapter in American politics.

For example, the Center is set to host former Governor of Maine and present U.S. Senator Angus King, who will deliver the 2017 George J. Mitchell Distinguished International Lecture on Apr. 19. The lecture is designed to foster interaction between students, faculty, and members of the Waterville community to discuss various perspectives on policy challenges and solutions.
Other events planned for the spring semester include a Colby community gathering to discuss how to discern truth from ‘alternative facts’ and a lunchtime talk with Arif Shaikh, founder of foodslack, an online platform that connects farmers with produce-buyers.

The Center will also host a talk on the effect of media on the 2016 election, the 2017 William R. and Linda K. Cotter Debate, and a talk from Thomas Frank based on his acclaimed book, Listen Liberal. Frank’s talk has been rescheduled due to inclement weather.

In closing her address to the College, Dean Kletzer thanked Shea for his ongoing contribution to Colby as a full time professor in the Government department, and Franko for accepting the role of interim director, and expressed enthusiasm for the Goldfarb Center’s Spring programming.

More information regarding the Goldfarb Center’s programming and leadership is available through both the Center’s online newsletter and its website.