President's Speeches and Remarks

May 12, 2005

Recognize alumni, parents, friends who have supported our students with gifts for financial aid.

At Bowdoin, we have a commitment to create opportunity for students to come to study and learn on our campus regardless of their financial means.  We understand what a Bowdoin education means – the opportunity to learn, grow, mature, refine judgment and explore the liberal arts and to find a passion for learning and run with it.  We all know that there is something unique about this Bowdoin College – grounded fundamentally on our commitment to the liberal arts, close faculty student interaction, the scholarly work done by our faculty working with our students, the commitment to the common good.  We understand the value of a Bowdoin education.

We also understand that talent – the talent of our students, faculty and staff is what sustains this College.  Talent is not defined by wealth – it is personal quality.  We simply must continue to bring the most talented, promising students to our campus each year according to our Bowdoin traditions to sustain this great College.

And so – it is your commitment to providing the resources to financial aid that makes this possible.  At Bowdoin today – we continue our commitment to provide opportunity to all students who should be on our campus – we will support them.  Students from Maine, New York, California, Texas – from across America.  This is an investment in them – and in Bowdoin.  It is in our self-interest, and more importantly, it is consistent with our core principle of the common good.  It is a core mission of Bowdoin College to educate the most talented students, regardless of their financial circumstance as they arrive at Bowdoin, in order to create opportunity for each of them and to send off into our communities future leaders who are committed to learning, reason and judgment based on facts and analytical perspective and committed to the principle of the common good.

There are many important issues in the world today – but access and affordability of a college education is high among the most vexing issues in our society today.  We see double digit increases in the cost of attendance of state universities.  The tuition and fees at Bowdoin and universities and colleges like Bowdoin will be next year just above $40,000 a year.  We work hard, very hard to control costs.  And, we do.  But, the very nature of what these places are about is expensive and the opportunity we create in the manner we are proud of, and the credential we must maintain – our place in this world – demands that we provide the Bowdoin experience to each and every student according to our residential liberal arts model.

And we work hard to preserve and enhance the financial investment you make in Bowdoin.  As Cam Sarrouf reminded us last year, Bowdoin’s investment performance – its return on its endowment – is at the highest levels of comparable endowments.  We are proud of that performance, and it should give you confidence that we can protect your important investment in Bowdoin and do very well indeed.

And so, I am preaching to the converted.  You all understand by being here today the importance of supporting our College and our students with gifts for financial aid.  We are grateful for your support.  You understand the importance of endowment – in good times and bad we must have the resources to provide the support to our students with the cost of college.  We are enormously grateful for your commitment to the College, to our students and look forward to your continuing commitment to Bowdoin in this important need.  

I am pleased to report that our message is understood and that every day we are receiving support from our donors and alumni, parents and friends who are for the first time joining your ranks.  We appreciate all gifts – we sincerely do.  Today I would like to recognize a generous family in our mission – a gift of $3.5 million from the estate of Robert Ahern ’33, establishing the Robert L. M. and Nell G. Ahern Scholarship Fund.

I encourage you to talk with the students are your table and around the room.  They are a remarkably talented group.  You will learn from them – and they can learn from you.

And a message to our students – look around this room and see the hundreds of people who have created opportunity for you.  In a very short time, much shorter than it appears to you today – you will be in a position to do exactly what the people in this room have done for you – create opportunity.  And so, just as we know that this lunch will inspire all of our alums, parents and friends, I hope that this lunch will also inspire you in the future to remember the commitment of the people in this room to you and hope that you will follow in their footsteps to support the next generations of Bowdoin students.

Thank you all for coming today.  And, again, thank you for supporting these students and our College – our financial aid endowment represents the heart, soul and future of Bowdoin.