June 20, 2003
I regret that prior commitments prevent me from being with you for this important and gratifying event.
We speak frequently at Bowdoin about service to the common good because we believe that liberally educated women and men have a responsibility to apply their talents and abilities to something greater than themselves and to consider in thoughtful and responsible ways what is right and proper for our communities, our nation and the world.
We probably all know the origins of this call to action—the principle articulated by Bowdoin's first president, Joseph McKeen, that "...literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education." Each of us can probably name individuals from throughout Bowdoin's history who have given of themselves in meaningful ways for the betterment of society. But there are few more tangible examples of these efforts than the house you dedicate today; a house that now becomes a home for the Cloukey family.
This project marks the first venture for "Bowdoin Builds," the Bowdoin College chapter—established during the 2001-2002 academic year—of Habitat for Humanity International. It is the product of a truly collaborative effort involving Bowdoin College students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as volunteers from the Brunswick community. It is an effort of which I am particularly proud because it is clearly an example of leadership, dedication and cooperation toward a common goal—all elements central to Bowdoin's mission.
Today is undoubtedly a very exciting day for the Cloukey family. But it is also an exciting and satisfying day for Bowdoin College and for the members of our community who participated in this project because it is work that has been meaningful for everyone involved. Service is not only about helping others. It can also be about self-respect. George Mitchell — a member of the Bowdoin Class of 1954 — perhaps said it best: "...fulfillment in life will come,"" he said, "...not from acquiring things, not from leisure, not from self-indulgence. Real fulfillment will come from striving with all of your physical and spiritual might for a worthwhile objective that helps others and is larger than your self-interest."
As you dedicate this house today, think about what you have accomplished, not only for the Cloukey family, but also for yourselves. Take that feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment with you as you continue to lead lives of purpose in service to the common good. Congratulations and best wishes.