Campus News

Bowdoin to Award 454 Degrees at 205th Commencement May 29

Story posted May 20, 2010

Bowdoin will hold its 205th Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 29, 2010, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on 454 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 Sidney J. Watson Arena. (Bowdoin has not held an indoor commencement since 1986.)

Honorary Degree Recipient Talks
Commencement Preview.jpg

While the honorary degree recipients will not give speeches at the commencement ceremony, they will participate in a variety of talks scheduled Friday, May 28, with members of the campus community.

  • Crandall will present "Life's Lessons Learned as a Pioneer in the Evolution of Private Equity," 1:30-2:30 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall.

  • Marder reveals what lobsters and crabs can tell us about how the brain works, 1:30-2:30 p.m., in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center.

  • McPherson delivers the talk, "Reforming America's Schools: Do We Know What We Want?" 2:45-3:45 p.m, in Studzinski Recital Hall, Kanbar Auditorium.

  • The College's baccalaureate ceremony, marking the official end of the academic year, will be held Friday, May 28, in Sidney J. Watson Arena, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Countryman will deliver the keynote address. Graduating senior Nathan Irving Isaacson will also speak at baccalaureate.

Of the 454 graduates, 50 are from Maine. Forty states and the District of Columbia are represented, including Massachusetts with 83 students, New York with 50, Connecticut with 33, California with 30 and New Jersey with 18.

Twenty-nine graduates are international students, representing 16 countries.

Commencement Weekend Speakers

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.

Jessica Jung Eun Song '10 and Luke John Mondello '10 are this year's commencement speakers.

Other participants include U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), who will deliver greetings from the State, and Rabbi Simeon J. Maslin, past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reformed), will deliver the invocation.

Bowdoin will award honorary degree doctorates to pioneering educator Joan C. Countryman, author of Writing to Learn Mathematics; J. Taylor Crandall, managing partner at Oak Hill Capital Partners, chief operating officer at Keystone, Inc., philanthropist and a member of the Bowdoin College Class of 1976; nationally known economist and Spencer Foundation President Michael McPherson; and internationally known neuroscientist Eve E. Marder.

Commencement History

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 and current U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell '54, former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen '62, and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson '79.

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