Chapel - McKeen Center for the Common Good


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Designed by Richard Upjohn and built between 1845 and 1855, a Romanesque church of undressed granite with twin towers and spires that rise to a height of 120 feet.

Joseph P. McKeen Center for the Common Good

American Musicological Society

Chapel - McKeen Center for the Common Good

The Chapel was completed in 1857 and is one of the landmarks of the campus.  A magnificent restoration of the historic Chapel interior was completed in 1997-98, and restoration of the Chapel towers was completed in 2005. 

Bowdoin was first chartered as a non-denominational school; however, the Catholic Students Union still holds services weekly in the Chapel. The chapel's towers were recently rebuilt stone by stone after 150 years of wear and tear.  

McKeen Center

At the College's inauguration in 1802, President Joseph McKeen declared that "literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good, and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education." The Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good highlights this defining tradition by actively engaging the College in the community and helping students connect their learning and aspirations to pressing issues through public engagement.

Bowdoin students collectively provide some 40,000 hours of public service each year through co-curricular volunteer activities, community-based academic courses, and fellowship opportunities. Student leaders coordinate nearly all programs.

Opportunities offered through the McKeen Center include:

  • America Reads and Counts. Earn federal work study funding by working in local public schools to help students improve their reading and math skills.
  • Alternative Spring Break. Spend one week of Spring Break working closely with a small group of students while learning about a poverty-related issue in the United States or abroad.
  • Aspirations in Maine. Join with other students to equip Maine high school kids with the knowledge they need to find and apply to colleges.
  • Bridge to Kids Mentoring Programs. Spend an hour each week serving as a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child in a local school or on campus.
  • Common Good Grant Committee. Learn about philanthropy and nonprofit fundraising by partnering with students to run a program that gives grant money to local organizations.
  • Community-Based Courses. Enroll in special courses that include a component where you are working with community organizations to address a specific issue related to the course.
  • Community-Based Research. Participate in an ongoing research project in the community by working with a faculty member to solve a problem.
  • Fellowships. Apply for funding to spend a summer working for a non-profit organization full-time in Maine or a foreign country.
  • Pre-Orientation Community Immersion Trips. As a first-year become informed about the Midcoast community by participating in a four-day community immersion service experience before Orientation begins.
  • Student-led Service Organizations. From blood drives to legal aid to working at a homeless shelter, provide direct service by volunteering with local non-profit agencies.

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