College of the Atlantic welcomes its 50th incoming class at the 2021 convocation ceremony, held i...College of the Atlantic welcomes its 50th incoming class at the 2021 convocation ceremony, held in front of the new Davis Center for Human Ecology.“The 50th class marks an impressive chapter in COA’s history,” said COA governance moderator Olivia Paruk ’24 at the opening of the afternoon convocation ceremony. “This is a great time for introspection, where we can learn from our past, and continue to grow and enrich ourselves to help serve all current and future change makers without losing sight of the ideals we hold close to our hearts.”

The ceremony was held in front of the new COA Davis Center for Human Ecology, an interdisciplinary, passive house facility with regionally sourced, mass timber construction, 350 solar panels, wood fiber insulation, and triple-insulated, bird-safe windows. Speakers included Paruk, architects Susan Rodriguez of Susan T Rodriguez | Architecture • Design and Tim Lock of OPAL, Craig Kesselheim ’76 of COA’s first incoming class, and COA President Darron Collins ’92.

The center includes a new teaching greenhouse, dedicated on Sept. 9 as the Congresswoman Chellie Pingree ’79 Greenhouse, with the Congresswoman on hand for the occasion.

Olivia Paruk ’24, the 2021-22 All College Meeting moderator, speaking at the 2021 College of th...Olivia Paruk ’24, the 2021-22 All College Meeting moderator, speaking at the 2021 College of the Atlantic convocation.“I’m so proud of my alma mater College of the Atlantic for remaining dedicated to ecology and innovation,” Pingree said. “For fifty years, COA has put Maine on the national map for positive climate action. Their new, beautiful Davis Center will nurture growth and green learning for generations to come.”

COA’s 50th academic year began with the largest applicant pool in the college’s history, 536 applications for approximately 100 spaces. This term ths school boasts its highest fall enrollment to date, with 373 students from 49 countries and 40 states. That number should level out to around 350 full-time-equivalent students over the course of the academic year, which is the school’s enrollment cap.

The college has come a long way since its founding in 1969 and first enrollment in 1972, Kesselheim said in his alumnx address.

“As a prospective student, I came to a campus where there were no classes to visit, because the college hadn’t actually started yet. There were no students to mingle with or chat with or just get a vibe from. There were no faculty on campus, there was no cafeteria to sample, no dorms to peek in on,” Kesselheim said. “So, instead we talked to the founders of the college… who wanted this year-round institution to be part of Bar Harbor life, island life, and we talked about their dreams, and considered ourselves invited.”

The Davis Center for Human Ecology is COA’s first purpose-built academic building since the early 1990s. It was designed during a multi-year community process by Rodriguez in collaboration with OPAL, and built within COA’s rigorous discarded resources framework by Maine’s E.L. Shea Builders and Engineers.

Dedicating the Congresswoman Chellie Pingree ’79 Greenhouse in the new Davis Center for Human E...Dedicating the Congresswoman Chellie Pingree ’79 Greenhouse in the new Davis Center for Human Ecology with, from left, COA President Darron Collins ’92, botany professor Jill Webber, head gardener Barbara Meyers ’89, botany professor Suzanne Morse, head of grounds Jake Totten ’19, Alexander Brown ’23, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree ’79, and COA Peggy Rockefeller Farms manager April Nugent.“Our team has worked hard to design a building that could only be here. One that is derived from this unique intersection of the natural world and the study of human ecology,” Rodriguez said at convocation. “Our goal has been to create a place that truly fits COA… more of an experience and a framework than a building, one that supports the vitality of campus life and the broad array of study. Ultimately a place of learning and a structure that lives up to the environmental stewardship and standards of this institution.”

The center will save and sequester over five million kg of CO2 in its first 50 years with responsible and renewable material and passive house-level energy use, architect Tim Lock of OPAL said at convocation.

“This building is a case study example project for sustainable habitats, a model for all. The students and greater COA community have driven the design goals to a far higher standard than any set of sustainable goals we have come across in our work with any institution,” he said.

The Davis Center is the largest wood fiber-insulated building in the country. It is a market case study for GO Lab’s TimberHP product, to be produced at the Architect Tim Lock of OPAL addresses the crowd at COA convocation 2021. The ceremony welcomed the...Architect Tim Lock of OPAL addresses the crowd at COA convocation 2021. The ceremony welcomed the college's 50th academic year and formally opened the new Davis Center for Human Ecology, which Lock helped’s first wood fiber manufacturing facility in Madison, Maine. GO Lab will soon reopen the 1903 Madison paper mill to make wood fiber insulation from Maine-sourced wood chip remnants.

“This building embodies the principles that have guided us as an institution for 50 years and we are very proud to help put Maine in a leadership position on climate action,” COA President Darron Collins ’92 said.

The building’s design and sustainability story extends beyond the materials and systems to a heightened awareness of the natural world, Rodriguez said.

“As we gather around this magnificent oak tree that is framed by the building, I hope you’ll reflect upon an attitude about architecture that puts the natural world on stage, makes it a focal point—the star of the show,” Rodriguez said. “We hope this building becomes your intellectual home and a new heart of campus, where you will increase your appreciation and awareness of this magical island where the ocean meets the mountains.”

College of the Atlantic believes that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to enabling students to actively shape the future. COA is a leader in experiential learning and environmental stewardship, and is the Princeton Review’s #1 Green College 2016-2020. Every COA student designs their own major in human ecology—which integrates knowledge from across academic disciplines and seeks to understand and improve the relationships between humans and their natural, built, and social environments—and sets their own path toward a degree. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members was founded in 1969 and offers Bachelor of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees.