Campus News

Barry Mills Inaugurated as President of Bowdoin

Story posted October 27, 2001

More than one thousand friends of Bowdoin gathered in Morrell Gymnasium Saturday morning for the inauguration of Barry Mills as president of Bowdoin. Mills is Bowdoin's 14th president and the fifth alumnus to be named president.

The inauguration ceremony had an international flavor. It began with a procession led by Bowdoin's World Music Ensemble and 56 flag bearers carrying the flags of the home countries of Bowdoin students, faculty and staff, and students performed international folk music during the ceremony.

Mills was at first visibly moved as he introduced his family to the Bowdoin Community, and then he demonstrated his sense of humor.

"I'd like to take just a moment to introduce you to my family: my wife, Karen, and the newest sons of Bowdoin - I don't have any daughters - this is politically correct. I don't have any daughters-William, Henry and George."

In his inaugural address this morning, Mills, reaffirmed the value of a liberal arts education, then called for Bowdoin to consider growing the student body by about 250 students and to raise additional endowment to provide for financial aid. He also suggested increased collaboration with colleges outside of Maine.

Since coming to Bowdoin, Mills has focused on strengthening the core academic mission of the College. Bowdoin now has a student body of about 1550, and Mills suggested that increasing that number to about 1800 might help the College to enhance its programs.

"While we must work diligently to preserve our character, I believe we should consider over the next few years whether the breadth of experience here academically and intellectually could be widened if we were a somewhat larger, but still small community. Now, I am not suggesting Bowdoin on steroids," he said, "only that a marginally larger community might allow us to enhance Bowdoin's capacity to achieve its academic mission."

Mills is a strong believer in need-blind admissions and providing access to exceptional students from every socio-economic level. Continuing to provide access to the best students will require raising about $40 million in additional endowment over the next several years.

"Bowdoin has been need blind for a long time now, admitting students on the basis of their ability, not on their ability to pay. We meet the full calculated need of students and commit to do so for all four years. Changing our policies to admit students on the basis of their ability to pay, or to use scarce financial aid resources in a bidding war for superior students, from my point of view is not correct, and I believe would destine us to mediocrity," he said.

Mills came to Bowdoin in July from the New York law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton, where he was deputy presiding partner. He holds a doctorate in biology as well as a law degree, is a member of the Bowdoin College Class of 1972 and is a former member of Bowdoin's Board of Trustees. He served as the original chair of Bowdoin's presidential search committee but stepped aside when he was drafted as a candidate. He now lives in Brunswick with his wife, Karen Gordon Mills, and the couple's three children, William, 14, Henry, 12, and George, 7. Karen Mills continues her work as managing director of Solera Capital, LLC, a private equity firm located in New York City, which she cofounded.

Chair of the Board of Trustees Donald Kurtz '52 presided over the ceremony and Rabbi Harry Sky gave the invocation. Duke Albanese '71, Maine's commissioner of education, brought greetings from the state, and Steve McCausland, chair of the Brunswick town council, brought greetings from the town. Henry Rosovsky, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and author of "University: An Owner's Manual, brought greetings from the academy. A new fanfare titled "Celebration," composed by Professor Elliott Schwartz, was performed by the Celebration Ensemble. During the ceremony, Mills was presented with the seal, charter and keys of the College.

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