President's Speeches and Remarks

May 13, 2004


Welcome to Bowdoin on this wonderful spring day.  This, our seventh annual scholarship luncheon, is among the most exciting and gratifying events at the College every year. Today is a celebration -- an important occasion recognizing our students and our alumni, parents and friends who have supported our students with gifts for financial aid.

Thank you for joining us.

We are honored here today to have Dennis Hutchinson of the Class of 1969 as our master of ceremonies.  Dennis is among our most accomplished Bowdoin graduates.  A Rhodes Scholar, Dennis is a brilliant scholar and teacher at the University of Chicago.  We at Bowdoin are remarkably fortunate that Dennis has remained devoted to this great college for his entire career.  Dennis has a sharpness of mind and wit that add immeasurably to what we do here.  Moreover, his commitment to the liberal arts and to what is fundamental at Bowdoin is rock solid and a compass for five presidents of this College who have benefited from Dennis’ advice and wisdom.  I know that there is no issue more dear to Dennis than Bowdoin’s continued commitment to bring to this College students of enormous ability.  Moreover, Dennis has a profound commitment to fairness and opportunity represented by our commitment to need blind financial aid that has been, is and will continue to be an important guidepost of this great College.  Please join me in recognizing this important leader of Bowdoin College.
 
Bowdoin is the place it is today because of the quality of the people who have walked on this campus.  Quality of mind, a commitment to learning and a commitment to the common good are defining characteristics of our students -- these qualities are not defined by wealth or social class -- but by intelligence, commitment, passion, quality of mind and body, and judgment.  We at Bowdoin are committed to bringing to this campus the best and brightest who are prepared to spend four years at this College to learn, to grow and to lead -- and we are committed to bringing these students to Bowdoin so they all come through the same door with the same opportunity.

This allows us to find the most talented students from across America -- from coastal and rural Maine, inner city NY, Boston, Los Angeles. San Francisco, Portland Oregon and Seattle.   From all across America we admit these students on a need blind basis -- with regard to talent and without regard to ability to pay and with a commitment to support these students for four years.

We are very grateful to all of you who support the alumni fund and make annual gifts to the College that support our efforts to provide financial aid.  These contributions are what we utilize annually and on a current basis to support operations of the College.  These funds are essential to our College and we should be proud of the participation of our alumni parents and friends in this effort.  Our levels of alumni participation are among the highest of any college or university in America.  Thank you.

But, let me talk for a moment about financial aid and the importance of financial aid endowment to this College.  As I travel and speak with alumni, parents and friends I talk often about the importance of building our endowment available for financial aid.   Today, about 50% of the $15 million annually that we provide in financial aid is supported by our endowment.  The remainder of the funds come from our general revenues -- basically, tuition and alumni fund contributions.
 
The purpose of endowment at a College like Bowdoin is to allow us to do what we consider most important at this College year in and year out in good economic times and in not so good times.  Endowment gives a college the foundation to make a commitment to a principle and policy and live up to it.  There are few principles or policies more important to Bowdoin than our commitment to financial aid.  You all know from your own businesses that as economic times go up and down, we must make choices and set priorities. We do that here at Bowdoin as well, but we work hard to protect our financial aid commitment.  Endowment for financial aid provides an extra source of insulation from these economic forces that ensures that regardless of the economic cycle we can support our fundamental mission to bring the best students to Bowdoin and create opportunity for them and for this College.  
 
Today’s event is a special one because many, many of our students are with us to say thank you.  Often we hold events at this College for alumni and friends where students are otherwise engaged on the campus or away on vacation.  This is a special day -- so spend some time with the students at your tables -- get a sense of the opportunity you have created for these students.  You have the opportunity today to understand what is so special and important about this College -- our students.
 
Let me take a moment to introduce to you today our Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid -- Jim Miller.  We are fortunate that Jim is at Bowdoin, he is simply the best in the business.  Jim has a refined sense of our mission here at the College and continues to attract and matriculate the finest students for this College.  And, Jim’s commitment to need blind financial aid is steadfast.
 
We thank all of you who have contributed to Bowdoin to support financial aid.  Our story and the story of each student in this room is compelling -- our need is real, the investment is essential, our students are superb, our education is enabling and empowering -- you are surrounded by your communities future leaders.

Thank you and please continue to support your College by adding to your financial aid endowments - - it is the heart and soul of our future.