Oct 02, 2023

Christopher Wilder ’93 Gift Offers Support to Students from Developing Countries

The alum's $235,000 commitment establishes the Wilder Family Financial Aid Fund

Early fall campus scene

Working in finance for more than 25 years, Christopher Wilder ’93 has always been involved with emerging markets around the world.

Throughout his travels, Wilder has witnessed firsthand significant socioeconomic gaps in many countries.

To provide financial aid to prospective and current Colby students coming from developing countries, Wilder made a $235,000 commitment to the College to establish the Wilder Family Financial Aid Fund. The fund supports financial aid at Colby with a preference for students from an emerging or frontier market country as defined by the most recent S&P Dow Jones Indices global benchmark. 

“This includes countries that are less developed and may [not be able] to provide the economic, social, and educational opportunities to their population compared to what we enjoy in the U.S.,” Wilder said. 

Wilder established the fund with a $125,000 gift in April 2021 and was inspired to give more after attending his 30th reunion in June 2023—the first time he had been back to campus since his 20th reunion 10 years prior. 

“My plans to attend my 30th reunion led me to give some further thought to the Wilder Fund and my commitment,” Wilder said. “I reconsidered my gift relative to my existing financial position and decided that I could commit more for a longer period of time. My initial commitment was made during the Covid lockdown when there was obviously a lot of uncertainty in everybody’s lives. As that uncertainty has subsided, I felt confident in increasing the size and tenor of my commitment.”

Colby has become a national leader in access and affordability among colleges and universities. A leading admissions and outreach effort that has enrolled extremely academically prepared students from all backgrounds, along with partnerships forged with community-based organizations and innovative financial aid programs, has made Colby one of the most accessible colleges for talented students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Through the Colby Commitment, parents or guardians earning a total income of $75,000 or less with typical assets can expect to contribute $0 toward the cost of their student’s college education. Other key elements include meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need without loans so students have the opportunity to graduate without loan debt, as well as the Fair Shot Fund, where families earning up to $150,000 with typical assets can expect an annual parent or guardian contribution of $15,000 or less. 

The College has an ongoing initiative to recruit exceptional students regardless of family income or circumstance and to meet each admitted student’s demonstrated financial need. The Dare Northward campaign has played a major role in taking Colby’s financial aid to the next level in transformative ways. With more than $85 million in financial aid gifts since the start of the campaign, donors make this commitment possible. 

Wilder’s experience at Colby was positive, both socially and academically, which made giving back an easy choice. 

“I look back on those years fondly,” he said. “I’m still in touch with a small group of close friends from Colby, and it is always enjoyable to meet Colby grads throughout the world and share experiences.”

As an alumnus, Wilder said he continues to be amazed by his alma mater. 

“I am super impressed with the advancements that Colby has made since I left and its enhanced standing as a top-notch institution. It seems to me that the campus, facilities, faculty, endowment, and student body are improving dramatically on an annual basis, and this is exciting to see,” Wilder said.