“'That's the president,' I said. 'That's so cool,' said the first kid, 'We're definitely coming here.'”
From the first day of his presidency, Barry was committed to building a community that reflected the rich diversity of backgrounds, talents, and experiences of students from all parts of America and the world, and he conveyed that sense of urgency and commitment clearly and consistently to the admissions staff from the beginning of his term in office.
In the spring of 2002, the first class admitted under Barry's presidency arrived on the Bowdoin campus for a visiting day, prior to making their decisions about which college to attend the following fall. Students and their families came from all parts of the country for the visiting program, and of course it snowed. We held a series of events that day designed to introduce our newly admitted class to the opportunities and people they would find in Brunswick.
I walked into an event at Smith Union behind Barry, who was, as he is wont to do, working the crowd on his way down the aisle. He stopped next to two young men who came from a part of the world and from backgrounds where snow and Bowdoin were equally alien concepts. Barry stuck out his hand and said "Hi, I'm Barry. Welcome to Bowdoin" and moved on. As I came near to the two kids, one said to other, "Who was that guy?" "That's the president," I said. "That's so cool," said the first kid, "We're definitely coming here." And they did. For nearly fifteen years, Barry has continued to walk down aisles—both real and metaphorical—welcoming young people to Bowdoin and building a community that reflects America and the world.
It's worth remembering that bringing remarkable students of all backgrounds to Bowdoin required an enormous commitment of institutional resources and an equal measure of institutional will. And an awful lot of presidential courage. Barry will leave myriad wonderful and lasting legacies in Brunswick, and all are worthy of praise and celebration, but none more important than the thousands of lives he changed.
Dean of Admission, Brown University
Former Bowdoin Dean of Admissions, 2001-2005