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May 17, 2024

Colby College gets $10M gift to establish data science center

Colby College campus File Photo Colby College received a $10 million gift from trustee Richard M. McVey to establish a center for computational and data sciences at the Waterville liberal arts college.

Colby College will use a $10 million gift from trustee Richard M. McVey, a New York-based fintech executive and parent of two Colby graduates, to incorporate data sciences into the Waterville school’s liberal arts curriculum.

The McVey Center for Computational and Data Sciences will speed scientific discovery, provide a leading-edge educational program, and support the use of computational tools and methods across disciplines, the school said in Thursday’s announcement.

“The timing is critical, as scientific discovery is driving innovation across industries and transforming the prospects of everything from human health to the future of our planet,” the school said.

Besides providing students with computational and data science knowledge and practical expertise that employers are seeking, the new center will help Colby launch applied fields of study in areas such as public health, biomedical engineering and environmental engineering. 

'Revolutionary change'

The school said the planned center is part of a broader aim to position Colby as a national leader in scientific education and a key science hub in Maine.

“Computational power and modeling are rapidly expanding human knowledge and driving revolutionary change,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “Marrying computation with experimentation, theory, and qualitative methodologies has proven to be a major accelerant of discovery and learning.” 

Greene was honored as a Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year in 2017.

Over the last several years, Colby has introduced majors in data science, computational biology and environmental computation, and launched the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

In 2019, Colby developed an initiative focused on integrating data science across the curriculum, thanks to a $2 million gift from McVey. 

The McVey Center for Computational and Data Sciences will have its own physical location on campus and eventually be part of Colby’s future comprehensive sciences complex.

“It is exciting to support Colby’s expansive programming for computational and data science and AI," said McVey, the founder, CEO and executive chairman of financial technology firm MarketAxess. 

"Data science skills and domain knowledge are both essential across all majors to prepare students for successful careers in today’s economy."

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