March 26, 2019
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Robert E.L. Strider, former Colby College president, dies

WATERVILLE — Robert Edward Lee Strider II, who led Colby College from 1960 to 1979 as its 17th president, died Nov. 28 in Boston. He was 93.

Strider was born in Wheeling, W.Va., and educated at the Linsley School there, at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., and at Harvard, where he earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he joined the English department at Connecticut College in 1946. He came to Colby in 1957 as dean of faculty and professor of English.

As president, Strider was instrumental in the creation of Colby’s landmark January Program of Independent Study, oversaw the implementation of residential coeducation, and broadened the curriculum to include foreign study opportunities, interdisciplinary studies, African-American studies and non-Western studies. A 1962 Ford Foundation grant that recognized Colby as a “center of academic excellence” was among his most significant achievements as president and helped lead Colby to national prominence.

On his retirement in 1979, Strider received an honorary Colby doctorate and became a life trustee of the college. His wife, Helen Bell Strider, died in 1995. He is survived by his four children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, at The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour on 25 Monmouth St., Brookline, Mass.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the charity of one’s choice; online at or to: The Helen and Robert E. L. Strider Scholarship Fund, Office of College Relations, Colby College, 4345 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, ME 04901-8843. Memorial gifts may also be made to The President and Fellows of Harvard College/Harvard Choral Endowment, c/o Gary Snerson, 124 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

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