BAR HARBOR, ME—Will Thorndike, the managing general partner of Housatonic Partners, a private equity firm, has been named the chair of College of the Atlantic’s board of trustees. He takes over from William G. Foulke, Jr., who led the board for four years.
Thorndike, who first became a COA trustee in 2008, sees this young college as standing at the forefront of higher education. “So many of the ideas that have been woven into COA’s DNA from early on are now front and center nationally and internationally: interdisciplinary work blending arts, sciences and the humanities, field-based commitment to learning, global perspective, and problem-solving around the environment,” he says. “These are things COA has been doing from the early days; it’s exciting to see the college grow to this point.” Thorndike is looking forward to presiding over the concluding period of a successful capital campaign at a time when COA is gaining recognition nationally and internationally. He says he finds himself energized by the “contagious curiosity and enthusiasm among COA’s exceptional community: faculty, board, staff, and students.”
Thorndike, who lives in Boston and has a home in Bar Harbor, first came to know the college as a boy, visiting his great aunt Elizabeth, or Betty, Thorndike, a trustee from 1969, the year COA was chartered, until her death in 1992. Instrumental in creating Acadia National Park’s Wild Gardens of Acadia, and the first woman elected to the Bar Harbor Town Council, Betty Thorndike was a powerful model of civic service to the young Will Thorndike. COA’s Thorndike Library is named for Betty and her husband Amory, who died in 1972.
“Will is one of those rare individuals that can bring laser-like intensity, efficiency, and heart and soul to an institution,” notes COA President Darron Collins, PhD, a 1992 graduate. “I remember walking into the Thorndike Library as a freshman on its opening day. Now I have the honor and privilege of working with an individual whose family has been such an enormous part of this place for so long. I’m thrilled.”
Thorndike co-founded Housatonic Partners in 1994, after doing investment research with T. Rowe Price Associates and working in publishing with Walker & Company. He holds a BA in English from Harvard College and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also a trustee of Stanford Business School Trust, an overseer at WGBH, and a founding partner at FARM, a social impact investing fund/collaborative.
Bill Foulke, Thorndike’s predecessor, joined COA’s board in 2001. A former banker with Chase Manhattan Bank and Bankers Trust Company, he helped build businesses in Tokyo, London, and Sao Paulo, among other markets. He is credited with bringing COA into contact with philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, thereby helping to achieve COA’s high number of international students, presiding over the quiet phase of the ongoing capital campaign, as well as easing the transition of President Collins, COA’s first alumnus president, after the retirement of David Hales.
College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit www.coa.edu.