Awards listed here are endowed prizes and distinctions or, in a few cases, annually funded departmental or academic program awards. In addition, there are numerous fellowships, national awards, and prizes from other organizations that are given annually or frequently to students who meet the criteria for distinction.
Each year, awards received by students are listed in the Commencement Program, the Sarah and James Bowdoin Day Program, or the Honors Day Program.
The Bowdoin Prize: This fund was established as a memorial to William John Curtis 1875, LLD 1913, by his wife and children. The prize is to be awarded "once in each five years to the graduate or former member of the College, or member of its faculty at the time of the award, who shall have made during the period the most distinctive contribution in any field of human endeavor. The prize shall only be awarded to one who shall, in the judgment of the committee of award, be recognized as having won national and not merely local distinction, or who, in the judgment of the committee, is fairly entitled to be so recognized." (1928)
The first award was made in 1933 and the most recent in 2015. Recipients have included Professors Dana W. Mayo and Samuel S. Butcher (1990), Senator George J. Mitchell '54, H'83 (1995), former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen '62, H'75 (2000), Career Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering '53, H'84 (2005), L.L. Bean Chairman of the Board Leon Gorman ’56, H'83 (2010), and Harlem Children’s Zone president Geoffrey Canada ’74, H’07 and former chairman, CEO, and founder of Duquesne Capital Management Stanley Druckenmiller ’75, H’07 (2015). Kenneth I. Chenault ’73, H’96, chairman and a managing director of the venture capital firm General Catalyst and former chief executive officer and chairman of American Express (2001–2018) was awarded the prize in 2022.
The Preservation of Freedom Fund: Gordon S. Hargraves '19 and Henry W. Farnum established this fund to stimulate understanding and appreciation of the rights and freedoms of the individual, guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. The prize is to be awarded to a student, member of the faculty, or group of Bowdoin alumni making an outstanding contribution to the understanding and advancement of human freedoms and the duty of the individual to protect and strengthen these freedoms at all times. (1988)
Should the prize not be awarded or there are funds remaining within the annual income after the prize is awarded, these funds are to be used to support the Department of History.
The first award was made in 1988 to William B. Whiteside, Frank Munsey Professor of History Emeritus. The most recent recipient of the award, in 2003, was Christopher R. Hill '74, H'14, Assistant United States Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; former Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Poland, and Macedonia; former director for Southeast European Affairs at the National Security Council; special envoy for the Kosovo crisis; and distinguished career diplomat and peace negotiator.
The Common Good Award: Established on the occasion of the Bicentennial, the Common Good Award honors those alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary, profound, and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest of society, with conspicuous disregard for personal gain in wealth or status. One or two awards are presented annually.