Campus News

Raymond F. Kierstead '56 Presented With Distinguished Educator Award

Story posted June 03, 2002

To read about other awards presented during Reunion click the links below:
Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff: Kathy Billings
Common Good Award: Hanley Denning '92
Alumni Service Award: Bob Morrell '47

Raymond F. Kierstead Jr., Bowdoin class of 1956, was presented the Distinguished Educator Award June 1, during Reunion Weekend.

The Distinguished Educator Award recognizes a Bowdoin alumnus or alumna for outstanding achievement in the field of education.

For 40 years Kierstead's quest for knowledge and passion for teaching were an inspiration to generations of students. He taught European history at Yale University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Catholic University before moving to Reed College in 1978, where remained until his retirement in 2001. A colleague at Reed College describes him as "a uniquely gifted and deeply devoted teacher in the old liberal arts tradition [who] has taught not only his field - French history - but has also imparted the deeper values of learning and civility to students and colleagues alike."

As a student at Bowdoin, he excelled in history, graduating summa cum laude with honors and being elected to Phi Beta Kappa. A member of Alpha Tau Omega, he served as a proctor and member of the Student Council, spoke at Commencement, and was named a James Bowdoin Scholar. He earned a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Paris before earning his master's degree and doctorate from Northwestern University.

Steven Koblik, former president of Reed, called him an "extraordinary teacher-scholar with remarkable intellectual range and depth." For two decades, Kierstead was the leader of Reed's freshman humanities program, which President Koblik called "the heart of the Reed curriculum." Every student at Reed takes the team-taught full-year interdisciplinary courses for six hours a week through seminars and lectures. Kierstead instilled in colleagues and students alike the value of intellectual discourse and inspiration. Two fellow Bowdoin alumni, John Kenney '74 and Rogers Miles '73, credit their time spent as junior faculty at Reed under his wise counsel with shaping them as educators and scholars.

At Reed, Kierstead oversaw the Fellowships and Awards Committee and was responsible for helping countless students become successful candidates for Watson, Fulbright, and Rhodes honors. When asked to serve the college, he agreed, chairing the history department and committees on tenure, policy, and planning and serving on a presidential selection committee. In 1993, he was named the third Richard F. Scholz Professor of History in recognition of his intellectual leadership.

"For those of us who are dedicated to the life of the mind and to first class undergraduate education," wrote President Koblik, "Ray Kierstead stands as a beacon of wisdom and thoughtful teaching."

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