Sheldon and Betsy Boege
After living more than 25 years in the Far and Middle East, Sheldon and Betsy Boege moved to the New London area in 2001. Though unfamiliar with Colby-Sawyer when they arrived, they soon became involved with the college’s Adventures in Learning (AIL) program. Over the past 17 years, Betsy and Sheldon have each taken on many different leadership roles in AIL, and Sheldon has served as a group study leader and lecturer for more than 15 courses.
As their involvement in AIL grew, they also connected with Colby-Sawyer through the Chargers Club, as volunteers for the club’s annual tennis tournament, and through Betsy’s use of the Hogan Center. “If we had known about the college before we came to New London, it would have made moving here a slam dunk,” noted Betsy. “The college’s support for AIL since its inception in 1998 and its close ties with the town is an immeasurable benefit to the community.”
The Boeges have a deep interest in the art and culture of Japan. Betsy’s great uncle, Ernest Fenollosa, was a professor of philosophy at Tokyo Imperial University shortly after Japan opened its doors to the West in the late 1800s. Fenollosa immersed himself in the arts and is still revered by the Japanese for preserving their artistic heritage during the rush to modernization of the Meiji period. The Boeges, who each studied this area in both undergraduate and graduate schools, lived in Tokyo from 1969 to 1971 as part of Sheldon’s career with a New York bank. Colby-Sawyer professor Jon Keenan, whose specialty is Japanese art, will join them in giving a course for AIL next winter on Fenollosa and the Meiji Restoration.
This love of the arts, their engagement with faculty members, and the opening of the Center for Art + Design led Sheldon and Betsy to consider how a significant gift could both impact the arts at Colby-Sawyer and draw others to join them in supporting the college. This past winter, the Boeges made a $100,000 gift to fund exhibitions and artists who will visit the Center for Art + Design, and to establish an endowment in honor of Ernest Fenollosa to support internships for students working in the arts.
While the Boeges hope that their gift may encourage students and faculty to connect with the art and culture of Japan, more important to them is that their contribution will bring attention to the arts at Colby-Sawyer and attract students to the college. They intend to continue to support the Ernest Fenollosa endowment in the future, and they hope that others will join them.
Sheldon and Betsy recognize the importance of Colby-Sawyer to the New London area. As Sheldon noted, “To the extent that the college provides a venue for people to connect with one another, that’s a real value to all of us here because it helps to build community.” Betsy added, “Colby-Sawyer’s support of lifelong learning contributes much to the cultural vibrancy of the area.”