October 22, 2004
It is my pleasure to welcome you all tonight to this important event at Bowdoin. We are at the College very proud of our new Kanbar Hall.
Now what I would like to do is a psychology experiment. If I say Pie in the Skyy what comes immediately to mind? The Red Sox beating the Yankees in Yankee Stadium? How about a new home for the psychology and education departments? I am sure that Al Fuchs and Penny Martin thought for many years that this could never happen. I certainly thought until Wednesday night that the unthinkable could never happen at Yankee Stadium. Well we are here tonight because we believed that Pie in the Skyy is possible. We have a new important building on our campus and at least some of you have a World Series team to root for.
Our special thanks for this building go to Elliott Kanbar—Elliott is Bowdoin Class of 56 and is here tonight with his wife Barbara. Elliott is a New Yorker and he and I have spent a good deal of time together since I came to Bowdoin. Elliott loves this College and supports it generously. He calls often with ideas for improvement and is a persistent reminder for me to focus on the important issues facing the College. It is no exaggeration to say that I know of no person who understands the US NEWS rankings system better than Elliott. There are few at the College who care so passionately about the excellence and reputation of the College and want us to be the very best—and certainly better in all respects than Elliott’s arch nemesis in Vermont. We are enormously grateful to Elliott and the Kanbar Foundation for their support that has made this building possible.
Elliott is the rare donor these days who calls saying how can I help—what do you need—always eager to help with what we see as our priorities. This confidence in us is gratifying. I hope you find this building and the remarkable programs it supports and enhances as impressive and important as do we.
But, back to Pie in the Skyy—the job of a college president is nearly always interesting. I often travel to San Francisco and when I do I always visit with Elliott’s brother, Maurice Kanbar, because he is an engaging and fun fellow. We often have lunch and Maurice always orders a drink for me (it is around noon—but with the jet lag for me, almost a reasonable time to drink) and always with vodka—Skyy vodka in fact—the family invention. And now back to Pie in the Skyy—on my most recent trip, Maurice ordered for me Pie in the Skyy, and I immediately thought of Kanbar Hall—but no—it is not Kanbar Hall, in fact, but pineapple juice and Skky vodka—not a bad way to start the middle of the day, see my job isn’t so tough. And sometimes Pie in the Skyy becomes the possible—thanks to the Kanbars.
The learning, research and scholarship represented by this building and the programs that inhabit it are impressive and represent the sophistication and attention to learning and teaching in intimate settings that are the hallmarks of Bowdoin. We have very, very sophisticated lab and experiment and testing space in the building for our faculty and students to learn together and grow. Space, I am told, that is the envy of psychology and neuroscience students and faculty from research universities.
The classrooms and computer center are the most technologically sophisticated and represent a new model for classroom design at the College.
All of our faculty in psychology and some in neuroscience have their offices together on the second floor of the building—enhancing interaction and collaboration— together for maybe the first time in their history—and I hope that these experts in psychology will be able to figure out how to coexist in such close proximity to each other for the first time in a long time.
We have a new home for our education department, a department with an important history at Bowdoin that does very important work here at the College and inspires so many of our students. Our dedicated faculty also work to certify each year Bowdoin students as teachers for our schools.
And finally, we have a new home for the Baldwin Center for Teaching and Learning and our quantitative skills program and our writing program, a program that I understand celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Congratulations. These centers are important areas for our students to work together and with talented professionals and other students to polish their skills that are critical to their success at Bowdoin and in life. These are not centers for remedial learning—but places for all students of all abilities and at all levels to go to improve and enhance their skills.
I know in talking with Elliott that it is important to him that this building be alive—a vibrant center of activity throughout the day and night. I want to assure you that this place is very much alive. About a week ago one weekday night, I walked in about 10 pm in the evening—I found students and faculty in Kanbar Hall working on the computers, editing their papers, doing their research and sitting in small groups studying. This building stands as a beacon on Bath Road announcing the Bowdoin College campus and as a beacon to the students from all over campus for an opportunity to study and learn..
Today, while many of us spent the day in meetings, there were a number of seminars and panel discussions by members of our faculty, visiting scholars and former students. Thank you all for participating today and celebrating the dedication of this building through a continued commitment to education and learning.
There are many to thank for all their support for this building.
Again, thank you Elliott and Barbara and thank you to the Kanbar Foundation.
We welcome the Hazelton family, including Jane Hazelton, whose husband Paul was a beloved professor of education at Bowdoin for many years for whom the Hazelton Seminar room on the first floor is named.
The Stenberg Family, Terry “56 and his wife Shirley and their son Douglas’79, made this seminar room possible—thank you.
I want to thank Beth Baldwin and Joan Mims, the sisters of Linda Baldwin ’73, for their late sister’s commitment to Bowdoin and the creation of the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching.
Our foundations also gave Bowdoin support for this project: The Alden Trust support created the computer center on the first floor, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation supported the large classroom on the first floor, the Booth Ferris Foundation supported the neuroscience laboratory on the ground level, and the Margaret Burnham Trust also provided support for the building.
Finally, let me thank our facilities leader Dave D’Angelo for his leadership of this project. Dave, together with the great work of Don Borkowski and Greg Hogan, brought this building to Bowdoin on time and on budget—and it is fabulous.
Our architects—Peter Kuttner of Cambridge Seven, who is represented today by Todd Cirillo and Steve Imrich—a great design in a challenging location—people say the building looks like it has been here forever. The interior is a gem—thank you.
The team from Payton Construction—great work—you were very professional and a pleasure to work with. Thank you also for delivering us a building on time and on budget.
Finally, I would like to thank Craig McEwen and Louisa Slowiaczek, as head of the campus committee, and all the other members of the committee, for their careful, thoughtful and collaborative work on this building.
And, let me take a special moment to welcome all of the members of the Class of 1956 who are here tonight to celebrate with us and congratulate Elliott on his achievement for Bowdoin.
Tonight is a great night at Bowdoin. People often think about buildings as architecture or monuments—at Bowdoin buildings are about architecture, but they are really about program. Program that supports our most important mission—the education of our students and the intellectual life of our faculty, staff and community. Kanbar Hall is an important contributor to our vital program and we are so very grateful to you all for your support and confidence in this College.