“Modernizers they may have been, but at every point they have remained true to the philosophy expressed more than 100 years ago.”
When we look back at the Mills years, we will recognize above all that Barry, with Karen very much by his side, has given Bowdoin renewed energy and stability by re-anchoring it in its Offer, articulated by William DeWitt Hyde, who became President in 1885.
When Barry returned to this small school in New England fourteen years ago, he brought a new breadth of outlook with him as he sought to redefine a liberal arts education for the twenty-first century. This vision grew not just from his professional experience as a lawyer in the business world, but also from his awareness that, in this digital, globalized age, Bowdoin needed to take a more cosmopolitan view. For him, this was not simply a matter of upping the headcount or of diversifying the demographics of both students and staff, but of changing the consciousness of the student body. Now, with “the keys of the world's library” safely in their virtual pockets, Bowdoin students enjoy limitless access not only to knowledge, but to wisdom.
The wisdom of Barry’s own approach is rooted in Bowdoin’s ethos and in his focus on its stakeholders—such as students, parents, alumni, staff, trustees, and philanthropic bodies. He has devoted time, attention, and energy to these individuals and groups and to understanding what is important to them. The climate of mutual respect that he engenders has been typified in his relationship with the faculty under Cristle Collins Judd and, as a trustee of fifteen years, I can bear personal witness to his capacity for getting the best out of the Board, whether as a set of individuals or as a collaborative forum. Not only is he an attentive and perceptive listener, he is an astute, honest, eloquent, and witty debater.
His wife, Karen, has also been an essential component of the Mills-Bowdoin equation. She is a formidable figure in her own right, sought-after for her outstanding expertise in business and public policy; but she is also an authority when it comes to protocol, etiquette, and essential life skills. I will always retain in my mind the image of her at Commencement, wearing her black hat and embodying the spirit of Bowdoin as she shared in the achievement of the graduating students and the pride of their families.
Over the past fourteen years they have made a robust but benign impact on Bowdoin, taking it confidently and smoothly into the twenty-first century. Modernizers they may have been, but at every point they have remained true to the philosophy expressed more than 100 years ago. Not only have the Mills Years been fourteen of the best years of Bowdoin’s life, they have helped to ensure that there will be many more best years to come.
—John J. Studzinski ’78