Campus News

Bowdoin Announces 2010 Honorary Degree Recipients

Story posted February 24, 2010

Bowdoin College will award four honorary degrees at its 205th Commencement exercises Saturday, May 29, 2010. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on the Quad in front of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.


Honorary degrees will be awarded to author and lifelong educator Joan Cannady Countryman; Overseer of the College Emeritus, Oak Hill Capital Partners Managing Partner and philanthropist J. Taylor Crandall '76; Spencer Foundation President, economist and author Michael McPherson; and internationally-known researcher and Brandeis University's Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience and Biology Department Chair Eve E. Marder.

About the Recipients

Joan Cannady Countryman has a long and distinguished career in education. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence University, with a master of urban studies degree from Yale University, she was a Fulbright fellow at the London School of Economics. She began her teaching career as director of community schools in Philadelphia, and then was director of career planning at the University of Pennsylvania. From 1970 to 1993 she taught mathematics at the Germantown Friends School, where she was Assistant Head for Academic Planning and Director of Studies. Dr. Countryman was head of the Lincoln School in Providence, R.I., from 1993 until her retirement in 2005. She was drawn out of retirement by the challenge of being the head of Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2006, a position that she accepted with the understanding that she would serve as interim head. She then brought her leadership skills to the task of Interim Head of the Atlanta Girls' School (2007–2008). She has been a board member at Sarah Lawrence University, the Haverford College Board of Managers and chair of the Corporation, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Independent School Association of Rhode Island, the Women's Fund of Rhode Island, Women and Infants Hospital, the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Paul Cuffee School in Rhode Island (a charter school) and The Providence Journal. She is the author of Writing to Learn Mathematics (1992) and Black Images in American Literature (1977).

J. Taylor Crandall, of the Bowdoin Class of 1976 and Overseer of the College Emeritus, is managing partner at Oak Hill Capital Partners in California, where he has worked since 1986. Crandall has an extraordinary record of philanthropy and service at Bowdoin and beyond. Among his generous gifts to the College are four endowed professorships and an endowed scholarship. He was a member of the Board of Overseers from 1991 to 1997. From Maine to Texas and to California, he has given often, generously and anonymously in support of children's health, medical research, the arts and education. He has served as a trustee or board member for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation, American Skiing Company, Park City Association, Genpact, Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics, Lucille Packard Foundation for Children's Health and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Michael S. McPherson is the president of the Spencer Foundation in Chicago, and is a nationally known economist and author on the relationship of education and economics. He received B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago. In a 22-year career at Williams College, Dr. McPherson was professor of economics, chair of the economics department and dean of the faculty. He then served as president of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., for seven years before being selected as the fifth president of the Spencer Foundation. He has been a trustee of Wesleyan University, a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a member of the executive planning board of Project Pericles, chair of the advisory board of the Murphy Institute at Tulane University, and is president of the TIAA and CREF boards of overseers. He is the author or co-author of Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities; College Access: Opportunity or Privilege?; and Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy.

Eve E. Marder is the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience and chair of the biology department at Brandeis University and an internationally-known researcher into neural networks in lobsters and crabs, and the ways in which computational methods reveal the function of neural circuits. She is a past president of the Society of Neuroscience, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Women in Neuroscience Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award, the Gerard Prize of the Society for Neuroscience, the MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience Investigator Award, and the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award. She received an A.B. degree from Brandeis and her Ph.D. from the University of California-San Diego. The author or co-author of numerous scientific articles, she is the founding editor of the Journal of Computational Neuroscience.

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