Campus News

Burroughs and Howland Honored by Trustees

Story posted May 16, 2002

Retiring faculty members Franklin G. Burroughs Jr. and John L. Howland were honored by the Bowdoin Board of Trustees at a dinner held Friday, May 10, in Main Lounge, Moulton Union.

Frank Burroughs, the Harrison King McCann Research Professor of the English Language, is a pillar of both the Bowdoin English Department and the Bowdoin community, having started teaching at the College in 1968. Early in his teaching career he gained a reputation for his courses in Chaucer and in creative writing, but he waited two decades to publish his own essays. With avoidance behind him, he won critical acclaim for his books Billy Watson's Croker Sack, a collection of essays, and Horry and the Waccamaw, an account of his six-day canoe voyage down the Waccamaw River. His essays have been honored with inclusion in the Best American Essays several times, he won the Pushcart Prize in 1989, and he was awarded a 1994 fellowship in creative non-fiction from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Burroughs is a son of the south, transplanted to the northeast. He grew up in South Carolina and earned his bachelor's degree at the University of the South in Tennessee before moving north to earn his master's degree and doctorate at Harvard. He is an outdoorsman famous for his knowledge of Merrymeeting Bay and the flow of its waters, as well as for his vast knowledge of and great love for birds.

In the classroom, in addition to Chaucer and creative writing, he has taught classes in the Medieval epic and romance, Old English, 19th- and 20th-century nature writing, Faulkner, and the personal essay. A teacher with a love of knowledge and exploration, he is known for conveying his appreciation for his subject, his attention to detail, and his sense of humor.

The Board of Trustees elected Burroughs the Harrison King McCann Professor of the English Language Emeritus, effective July 1, during their May 11 meeting.

John Howland is a Bowdoin alumnus, graduating in 1957. He earned his doctorate at Harvard, was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the Netherlands, and also studied at Yale Medical College. He returned to Bowdoin to teach in 1963. By 1971 he had elevated biochemistry to a separate department, and it has become one of the most popular majors at the College.

Howland spent years studying the causes of muscular dystrophy and pioneered the theory that the problem lies in the cell membrane. He developed an improved test for identifying carriers of a particular type of muscular dystrophy, and also assisted his colleague Bill Steinhart in research on the spread of the Herpes virus. His professional interests include the early evolution of energy coupling systems, such as photosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation, as well as bioenergenic aspects of the origin of life.

Howland is not to be limited to a particular field of science. He continually finds new areas of interest. He wrote the first book to be published on Archaea, a third form of life that was just discovered in the 1970s. He recently announced he was starting a new career in soil microbiology. Known for his wit and joy of life, he has said "science, when it is good, is one of the supreme adventures of the human spirit and those who turn their backsides toward it are likely to miss out on a great deal of fun."

He is also knowledgeable about music, plays both the harpsichord and the lute, and loves renaissance and baroque music. His other interests include birds, the esoteric aspects of flyfishing, the writing of M.F.K. Fisher, and the geography of Penobscot Bay as viewed from the water.

The Board of Trustees elected Howland the Josiah Little Professor of Natural Sciences and Professor of Biology and Biochemistry Emeritus, effective July 1, during their Saturday meeting.

Kent Chabotar, Jerry Boothby, and Bill Gardiner were also honored by the Trustees at the dinner. Click their names above to read more.

Chabotar, in recognition of devoted service to Bowdoin, was elected Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Emeritus by the Board of Trustees.

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