President's Speeches and Remarks

June 5, 2003

Good morning.

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all here this morning, and especially to welcome Elliott Kanbar of the Class of 1956 back to Bowdoin. With Elliott’s support and encouragement, we are able today to break ground on an important new facility for the College. All of us – but especially members of our faculty and the students who will one day teach and learn together on this site – are tremendously grateful to Elliott, to his brother Maurice Kanbar and to the Kanbar Charitable Trust for making today possible for Bowdoin.

We’ve had many groundbreaking ceremonies on this campus in the past decade, but none more important than this. (And it’s not because this is the first time I get to grab one of these shovels as president!) It’s because this new facility will make a huge difference in what is most important at Bowdoin: our academic program. When this facility opens its doors in September 2004, Bowdoin will at long last be able to provide high quality space that will enhance and draw together in meaningful ways several dispersed academic programs and the people who make them work.

We are gathered this morning adjacent to one of the most active intersections in Brunswick. If you think it looks busy now, come back on any Friday afternoon in July and August! When completed, Kanbar Hall will serve as a beacon on this corner, representing Bowdoin College to the public in an attractive and inviting way. The design for the building is sensitive to the scale of its surroundings and preserves most of the trees here, especially the larger trees. While the principal entrance will be off the Cleaveland quad, students, faculty and visitors will also be able to enter Kanbar Hall from Bath Road.

But as appealing and welcoming as the building will be on the outside – and it will be both – the real value to Bowdoin will come, of course, from the educational activities going on inside, and especially from the enhanced interaction of faculty and students who will benefit greatly from the function and utility of this hall.

We truly expect Kanbar Hall to be a gathering spot and a hub of activity and learning at Bowdoin. Just look at what will be happening here:

  • No longer isolated in cramped quarters across Maine Street, our education department will have the ability in Kanbar Hall to accommodate the rapidly rising interest in education, community service work and service learning by Bowdoin students. Here, our education faculty will be able to interact more effectively with their peers, especially in psychology. And education will finally have a presence on this campus befitting its importance to the College and to our society.
  • Psychology and neuroscience, currently housed in cramped quarters constructed in the 1840s, will have in Kanbar Hall the space they have long needed for active, modern research. This will include desperately needed instructional laboratories, animal facilities and wet labs, and also flexible lab spaces for evolving teaching and research needs in cognitive, developmental and social psychology. These are the facilities our faculty and students need and deserve for what are also growing areas of our curriculum.
  • Also housed here will be our Baldwin Center for Teaching and Learning, Bowdoin’s Quantitative Skills Program and the Writing Project. Each of these programs currently exists in inadequate and non-adjacent spaces. By bringing these programs together in Kanbar Hall, the College underscores their importance and allows the integration of their valuable offerings. In Kanbar Hall, these programs will thrive in highly visible and accessible space.


So there is a great deal of excitement and anticipation on campus as we break ground here today. When we open Kanbar Hall in a little over a year, we expect activity here day and night. And we expect a palpable expansion of Bowdoin’s learning community to this corner of our historic campus.

Today’s ceremony concludes the planning process for Kanbar Hall, an effort that took a lot of hard work on the part of a lot of people, including members of our building committee, members of our faculty and staff, Craig McEwen and Bill Torrey, our architect for the project – Peter Kuttner and his team at Cambridge 7, and Dave D’Angelo and Don Borkowski in Facilities. But we would be nowhere today without Elliott Kanbar.

With the planning behind us, it’s time to put some shovels in the ground and get on with construction. But before we do, I’d like to ask Elliott Kanbar to come forward to say a few words. Elliott…