President's Speeches and Remarks

September 10, 2001

Thank you very much

It is pleasure to be with you today, my first faculty meeting in nearly 30 years.  I attended a faculty meeting at Bowdoin nearly 30 years ago as a sophomore when some group I was involved with was trying to get the faculty to approve some issue related to a course on West African political science and history.  The meeting was held in Massachusetts Hall and my only recollection was that the room was much darker and the group was much smaller, and, I believe, nearly all male.  I am pleased to see a room that is much brighter and a group that is comprised of talented and dedicated men and women.

We have recently celebrated our new ranking as 5th in US NEWS.  Now, we all recognize that the rankings are subjective and not truly constructive.  However, the academic reputation of the various colleges is what in large measure drives these rankings.  Our ranking at the top of residential liberal arts colleges reflects one inescapable fact⎯you are a superb faculty of teachers and scholars and our faculty represents the heart, soul and mind of this College.  I am proud to be among you today.

Over the last few months I have had an opportunity to meet with some of you and I hope to meet with all of you over this academic year.  The discussions to this point have been enormously useful to me and I hope to the people I have met.

I spoke at length in my convocation talk about the guideposts for the future.  I won’t repeat that talk, but merely remind everyone that academic excellence and intellectual rigor are the key guidepost for this College.  Over the recent past “the saying that 90% of what I learned in college I learned outside the classroom” had taken on too large a significance.  First, it isn’t true and shouldn’t be a concept we celebrate, and second, it is critical to reinforce the centrality of our academic mission as the core of the College.  Many have thanked me for these comments and I appreciate the good wishes.

But, it is time now and over the next period to put this into action.  As we make decisions in this body and throughout the College we must always ask how the issue or outcome affects our core mission of academic excellence.

I have heard a bit about theses meetings during my discussions with you.  In discussions with the COG, we talked about the fact that some feel that many important issues facing the College rarely reach the floor of this group for general discussion.  I endorse wholeheartedly an opportunity at these meetings for there to be discussion in a collegial, but frank and open manner of important issues facing the college.  The concept of more open discussions of central issues facing the College was raised by your colleagues at the COG and you will hear more from Susan Bell on this.  I look forward to these discussions and look forward to being informed by them and hope and expect to be an active participant with you.

Before I take questions, I know we will have introductions of the new people among us.  But, let me first thank Craig McEwen and the search committee for the new dean of admissions.  They have brought to us Jim Miller.  I know that you all know of Jim’s background at Harvard, Brown, and the College Board.  I hope you will get to know Jim soon.  I am confident that he shares the views that I have set forth as the core values for us as we go forward.

I would now like to open the floor to questions and responses.