May 21, 2020 — Information on Personal Leaves of Absence

Dear students, 
Congratulations on your completion of a very challenging semester!
Some of you have asked questions about personal leaves of absence, and in my town hall with President Rose on April 29, I promised that we would follow up with more information. As I noted at the time, the College does not plan to limit the number of personal leaves of absence. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some changes to how and when requests for personal leaves will be approved, as well as some changes to a student’s return to Bowdoin from a personal leave.
As a reminder, terms that normally govern a personal leave of absence include:
  • Students must be in good academic and social standing at the end of the semester immediately prior to the start of the leave.
  • Students on academic or social probation are not permitted to take personal leaves.
  • All leaves of absence, including personal leaves, must be approved by a dean and in consultation with the student’s academic advisor.
  • Students on leave may not transfer academic credit to Bowdoin for course work taken while on leave.
  • Students should be aware that taking a leave may affect their class standing.
  • Students should be aware that taking a leave may have financial implications related to tuition reimbursement, financial aid, and repayment status of any student loans. Returning students retain financial aid eligibility if they meet applicable deadlines.
  • While on leave, students are unable to compete in Bowdoin College athletic programs until after the last day of exams prior to the semester in which they are scheduled to return.
  • While on leave, students may be ineligible to apply for certain campus opportunities or leadership positions, including but not limited to, off-campus study, Residential Life, Judicial Board, Outing Club, CXD, and McKeen Center. Students should speak with those offices to determine eligibility. 
While the majority of the current personal leave policy remains the same there are some important updates to this policy, specifically to a student’s intended return to campus.  The Student Handbook will be updated to reflect these revisions and in the meantime this email serves as notice of these changes.
If you are considering a personal leave of absence, please read the information below carefully: 
  • As with other leaves of absence from Bowdoin, students taking a personal leave of absence must apply for readmission. In order to remain committed to our enrollment model, it may become necessary to restrict the timing of readmissions. This will be determined by the number of students who elect to take a personal leave, which is currently unknown. For example, if a student requests a one year of absence to return in Fall 2021, that student may not be able to return until Spring 2022 or later depending on a variety of factors that may be unknown at the time the student elects to take a leave. Our hope is, of course, to accommodate every student’s preferred timing for readmission, but at this time, Bowdoin cannot guarantee that a student on personal leave will be readmitted to the College for the semester they request. If it becomes necessary for the College to assess limitations on readmission, this information will be communicated.
  • Under Bowdoin’s readmission policy, students on leave may not participate in the housing lottery or course registration until after they have been readmitted.
  • Once a request for a leave of absence is complete, the decision is binding.
  • Because the deadlines for fall study abroad have already passed, students who have not already completed the Off-Campus Study application process will not be permitted to study elsewhere and transfer credit back to Bowdoin.  
In order to give you time to consider the decision and to allow the College time for planning, rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors will have two weeks immediately following Bowdoin’s announcement about the Fall 2020 semester to decide if you would like to take a personal leave of absence. Those of you considering a personal leave of absence from Bowdoin have a difficult decision ahead of you. Although you will know Bowdoin’s larger plan for the fall semester by the time you make this decision, there will continue to be much that is unknown about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it will continue to impact all aspects of our lives, including the ability to work and travel.  I encourage you to engage with your family, campus resources, and advisors. We are here to help you make the decision that is right for you.
If you have questions or wish to consult with a dean to explore the possibility of taking a leave, please do not contact your dean directly to schedule an appointment. Instead, please contact one of the following staff members beginning Tuesday, May 26, 2020:
• Class of 2023: Kathleen King 
• Classes of 2022 and 2021: Lynne Yanders 
No appointments will be scheduled before May 26th. Please note that the Office of the Dean of Students will be closed from Friday, May 22nd through Monday, May 25th in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that this spring was not the college experience you anticipated. I recognize that much of what unfolded was challenging, unknown, and for some, unsatisfactory.  But we are still Bowdoin and you are a member of this remarkable community.  As we navigate this pandemic and the challenges it brings, we remain committed to excellence in providing you a robust learning experience and a community like no other. 
Missing your presence on campus and wishing you and your families safety and good health.
Janet K. Lohmann
Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine 04011