Alumni, Faculty Honored at 2023 Reunion

On Saturday, June 3, the Alumni Council Awards Committee presented its annual alumni awards during Reunion Weekend. 

Brick Award

The Brick Award, given to to those who have demonstrated outstanding loyalty to the College through consistent and dedicated service on its behalf, were presented to Sally Lovegren Merchant ’83 (from left), Joerose Tharakan ’08, W. Rod Gerdsen ’93, Rick Angeli ’88, P’22, and James Cook ’78, P’11.

Rick Angeli ’88, P’22 has been a cornerstone in the Colby community as both an alumnus and a parent. He has brought tremendous energy, enthusiasm, and clear love of Colby to his work on the Alumni Council, serving as chair of the C Club committee and as a two-time member of alumni trustee search committees. Angeli was instrumental in recent efforts to bridge the work of the C Club to current Colby students, including creating workshops for players in partnership with DavisConnects. 

For 45 years, James Cook ’78, P’11 has led his class as an active member of the Reunion Committee. His leadership, philanthropy, and volunteerism sets a gold standard for the Class of 1978—and the broader Colby community. Together with his wife, Sue Cook ’75, P’11, a former Colby Alumni Affairs and Development Officer, Cook has taken every opportunity to promote and strengthen his alma mater through his work with the alumni network, the Colby Fund, and, most importantly, the Class of ’78.

Rod Gerdsen ’93 has served his alma mater as a stalwart volunteer for the annual fund for over a decade. Whatever the project, Gerdsen makes Colby a top priority, most recently leading the charge with his Class of 1993 Reunion Committee. Gerdsen will individually reach out to all his classmates and he takes the time to write personalized messages. 

Sally Lovegren Merchant ’83 has served as an alumni volunteer in some capacity ever since she graduated. She has been on the Alumni Council, acted as class correspondent for central communications, and currently leads Class of 1983 philanthropic efforts as Reunion Gift Co-Chair. 

Ten years ago Joerose Tharakan ’08 became the Young Alumni Trustee, a position reserved for recently graduated alumni. Since 2013, she has brought to the Board of Trustees the crucial perspective of a recent Colby graduate. With her finger on the pulse of the young alumni community she has been working with fellow trustees on visionary development initiatives for the College, helping to prioritize affordability and access amid the rising cost of higher education, promoting a healthy campus culture, and ensuring Colby leads the way as a world-class liberal arts institute. 

Blue Key Award

The Blue Key Award, which is given to young alumni, was awarded to Ben Brauer ’13 (from left), Erika Hinman ’13, Eliza Larson ’13, and Weston Muench ’18, for distinguishing themselves through consistent and dedicated service to Colby.

Ben Brauer ’13 is a committed volunteer for the annual fund as a Reunion gift co-chair for his class committee, an 1813 Ambassador, and especially as one of the Colby football team’s most active and loyal supporters. 

As co-president of the Class of 2013, Erika Hinman ’13 has remained actively involved with her class, spearheading their fifth reunion planning efforts in 2018, and now their milestone 10th reunion. 

As a Class of 2013 reunion gift co-chair, Eliza Larson ’13 has been a tremendous leader in all of her cohort’s annual giving efforts. She brings her wordsmithing prowess and penchant for communications to all class-based outreach and inspires strong participation amongst her fellow alumni.

Weston Muench ’18 has been an active volunteer and fundraiser since his time as a student, and in the five years since graduation he has shown no signs of slowing down. He has served the College as a phonathon manager, senior class gift committee member, reunion student worker, and now a class committee member as an alumnus. 

Outstanding Educator Award

Colby’s Outstanding Educator Award recognizes alumni who demonstrate exceptional professional distinction in the education sphere. Since graduating Colby, Scott Sivo ’03 has dedicated his professional life to the education of young people, first as a teacher and then as assistant principal and principal. Now principal of Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School in South Burlington, Vt., Sivo’s leadership inspires not just his students and colleagues, but his fellow Colby alumni as well.

Charles W. Bassett Faculty Award

The Charles W. Bassett Faculty Award recognizes a faculty member whose service to alumni programs, through active participation in regional and on-campus events, is extraordinary. In her role as executive director of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, Rabbi Rachel M. Isaacs is a champion for engaging the Colby community locally and across the country. She is the inaugural Dorothy “Bibby” Levine Alfond Chair in Jewish Studies, teaching students Hebrew, Jewish theology, and Jewish humor, among other subjects. Her contributions to life at Colby extend beyond current students, though, as her leadership in organizing events in New York City, Boston, Florida, California, elsewhere increases alumni engagement and cultivates enduring connections.

Ernest C. Marriner Distinguished Service Award

The Ernest C. Marriner Distinguished Service Award recognizes members of the Colby community for their exceptional commitment and lifelong dedication. Trustee Alexander K. Buck, Jr. ’78 is a visionary leader of the College, his wide-ranging support enriching all areas of life at Colby and providing integral opportunities for students. When Buck and his wife established the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment, they positioned Colby at the forefront of climate research and efforts to tackle severe environmental issues. He took a leading role in the planning of and fundraising for the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center, rallying Colby friends and former teammates to raise naming gifts for multiple facilities. Whether he is leading Colby from behind the scenes or taking an active role in students’ education and experiences, Buck’s contributions continue to make immeasurable differences.

Distinguished Alumnus Award 

The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes Colby graduates who have achieved unusual distinction in their profession or avocation, and few may be considered quite as distinguished as Associate Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court Judge Joseph M. Jabar, Sr. Esq. ’68, P’94, ’96. A Waterville native, Judge Jabar’s extraordinary contributions have helped shape his hometown, his alma mater, and his state, and his decades of hard work and leadership set a benchmark for the entire Colby community.