Campus News

L.L. Bean Chairman Leon A. Gorman '56 to Receive Bowdoin's Highest Honor

Story posted September 23, 2010

Leon A. Gorman, chairman of the board of L.L. Bean, Inc., a member of the Bowdoin College Class of 1956, and trustee emeritus of the College, will be awarded The Bowdoin Prize, the highest honor the College bestows upon one of its members, during a special ceremony to be held on campus Friday, October 1, 2010, at 8:00 p.m. in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall.

Leon Gorman dog256.jpg
Leon A. Gorman '56

Former Maine Governor John R. McKernan Jr. will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony, which is open to the public free of charge.

Seating is limited and tickets are required. Tickets may be obtained at the David Saul Smith Union information desk, 725-3375. Members of the Association of Bowdoin Friends may pick up tickets at the Friends office in the McLellan Building, 725-3253.

The Bowdoin Prize was established in 1928 as a memorial to William John Curtis, LL.D., of the Class of 1875, by his wife and children.

It is awarded every five years "to the graduate or former member of the College, or member of its Faculty at the time of the award, who shall have made during the period the most distinctive contribution in any field of human endeavor."

The Bowdoin Prize is presented to those who are "recognized as having won national and not merely local distinction, or who, in the judgment of the committee, is fairly entitled to be so recognized."

Gorman was chosen to receive the prize for his distinguished career as a business leader, conservationist, and philanthropist. His nomination for the prize was confirmed by the Committee of Award, the members of which are the president of Harvard University, the president of Yale University and the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

Gorman was named president of L.L. Bean in 1967 following the death of his grandfather and company founder, Leon Leonwood Bean. Under Gorman's leadership, L.L. Bean grew from a $4.75 million company to a billion-dollar enterprise. He was named chairman of the board in 2001.

Gorman graduated from Bowdoin in 1956 cum laude. He served in the U.S. Navy for three years and joined L.L. Bean a year later. Gorman's 34 years as president of the company are detailed in L.L. Bean: The Making of an American Icon (Harvard Business School Press, 2006). He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1983 at Bowdoin's 178th Commencement in recognition of his contributions to the welfare of Maine and to higher education.

Gorman was named an overseer of Bowdoin College in 1983 and a trustee of the College in 1994. He was elected trustee emeritus in 2002.

Among his many contributions to Bowdoin are major support for the academic program, financial aid, faculty sabbaticals and the Outing Club. A gift by Leon and Lisa Gorman enabled the College to establish the Bowdoin College Coastal Studies Center on Orr's Island, a facility dedicated in May 1998.

The generosity of Leon and Lisa Gorman has also touched many other colleges and universities, medical facilities, museums, arts and cultural organizations, wilderness and conservation societies, and community service programs that meet the needs of the disadvantaged.

Leon A. Gorman is the 17th recipient of The Bowdoin Prize.

The first Bowdoin Prize was awarded in 1933 to Dr. Fred Houdlett Albee, Class of 1899. Other Bowdoin Prize recipients are U.S. Senator Paul Douglas (Class of 1913), Red Cross Commissioner Harvey Dow Gibson (Class of 1902), Bowdoin President Kenneth C.M. Sills (Class of 1901), Rear Admiral Donald MacMillan (Class of 1898), U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harold Burton (Class of 1909), journalist William Hodding Carter, Jr. (Class of 1927), penologist Austin H. MacCormick (Class of 1915), Dr. Leonard W. Cronkhite (Class of 1941), former Northeastern University President Asa S. Knowles (Class of 1930), Olympic Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson (Class of 1979), Bowdoin professors Samuel S. Butcher and Dana W. Mayo, U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (Class of 1954), former U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (Class of 1962), and U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering (Class of 1953).

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