Campus News

Bowdoin to Award 448 Degrees at 203rd Commencement May 24

Story posted May 15, 2008

Bowdoin will hold its 203rd Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 24, 2008, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on 448 graduates.

President Barry Mills will preside over commencement and award degrees on the terrace of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art on the Quad. In the event of very severe weather, commencement will be held in Farley Field House. (Bowdoin has not held an indoor commencement since 1986.)

Of the 448 graduates, 51 are from Maine. Thirty-eight U.S. states are represented, including Massachusetts with 104 students, New York with 54, California with 33, Connecticut with 24 and New Jersey with 20.

Twenty-two graduates are international students, representing 15 countries.

Since 1806, Bowdoin has given the honor of speaking at commencement to graduating seniors. Until 1877 every graduate had a speaking part. The custom of selecting student commencement speakers through competition began in the 1880s.

Past speakers have included poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1825, House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed 1860, Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary 1877 and biologist and researcher Alfred Kinsey '16.

Vanessa Lisbeth Vidal Castellanos of Los Angeles, Calif., and Nathan Reuben Chaffetz of New York, N.Y., are this year's commencement speakers.

Other participants include State Representative Emily Ann Cain (D-Orono) who will deliver greetings from the State, and Rev. Marc B. Caron '85, Chancellor, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, will deliver the invocation.

Bowdoin will award honorary doctorates to Peter Buck '52, nuclear physicist, philanthropist and co-founder of the Subway restaurant chain; Yvon Chouinard, founder, president and CEO of Patagonia; Gina Kolata, author and science writer for The New York Times; Lucy R. Lippard, internationally known art historian, cultural critic and activist; Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., Director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and Maine State Historic Preservation Officer; and Barry N. Wish '63, Trustee Emeritus and a leader in the worlds of finance and philanthropy.

While the honorary degree recipients will not give speeches at the commencement ceremony, they will participate in a variety of events with members of the campus community.

On Friday, May 23, Shettleworth will present "The Camera Discovers Bowdoin, Nineteenth Century Paintings, Prints, and Photographs of the Bowdoin College Campus" at 1 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall. Lippard will present a talk titled, "Far Afield" at 2 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center.

At 3:15 p.m. at Studzinski Recital Hall, Kanbar Auditorium, Yvon Chouinard will discuss his life and book Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. These events are not open to the public.

The College's baccalaureate ceremony, marking the official end of the academic year, will be held at 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 23, in Morrell Gymnasium. Kolata will deliver the keynote address. Graduating senior Daniel Farrell Brady will also speak at baccalaureate.

Bowdoin College was chartered in 1794, and held its first commencement ceremony in 1806 in the second meetinghouse of First Parish Church across the street from the College. There were seven graduates in the Class of 1806. The following year saw the smallest graduating class in the College's history, with just three members in the Class of 1807.

The best-known class was the Class of 1825. In addition to Longfellow, the class included writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. In 1875, on the day before commencement at the 50th reunion of the class, Longfellow recited his poem "Morituri Salutamus," an elegiac reflection on youth and age.

Other notable Bowdoin graduates include President Franklin Pierce 1824, African-American newspaper editor John Brown Russwurm 1826, Civil War hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain 1852, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell '54, former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen '62, and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson '79.

Click here for a schedule of events, answers to frequently asked questions and other Commencement information.

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