Bowdoin Says Goodbye to Barry Mills

Barry Mills, President of Bowdoin College, 2001-2015Most of us tend to think of college as a four-year experience, a relatively short time horizon without much, usually, in the way of institutional change. But every so often, a transition of leadership focuses our attention on the longer view. That’s what has been happening at Bowdoin lately, as the fourteen-year presidency of Bowdoin’s fourteenth president comes to an end.

Barry Mills leaves Bowdoin this summer a very different place than when he arrived in the summer of 2001. By the measures that matter—academic rigor, financial stability, selectivity, athletic prowess, support for financial aid, excellence in the arts, the number of applications, the broad makeup of the student body and faculty, even the size of the campus—Bowdoin’s foundation has never been stronger.

These fourteen years have not been an easy time. They began with the national trauma of 9-11, continued through the financial crisis and into a period when many began to question the cost, if not the value, of an education grounded in the liberal arts. Yet, Bowdoin has thrived.

We set out to look back at this period in Bowdoin’s history through the eyes of those who know the College best: faculty, alumni, trustees, students, staff, and members of the local community. We asked for essays from people who would have different perspectives. What we didn’t realize at the outset is just how many of these people would trace the strength of Bowdoin today to the accomplishments, vision, and sheer energy and enthusiasm of Barry Mills.