The Schiller Coastal Studies Center

Published by Bowdoin News

Bowdoin has received a major gift from Philip Schiller and Kim Gassett-Schiller of Half Moon Bay, California, that will allow the College to substantially expand opportunities for students studying oceans and the environment at its Coastal Studies Center. 

Philip Schiller and Kim Gassett-Schiller P'17 talk about their love for the ocean and why they are supporting efforts at Bowdoin to expand and enrich opportunities for students studying oceans, marine science, and climate change.

Through the support of a $10 million gift from the Schillers, Bowdoin will be able to construct a state-of-the-art dry laboratory connected to the Center’s existing marine laboratory and a convening center. The convening center will include modernized classrooms, housing, and dining facilities for students, faculty, and visiting scholars. It will also serve as a facility for retreats, dialogue, and collaboration among local and national leaders working to address critical issues of coastal and climate concern.

“Like Bowdoin, we have a deep interest in science, discovery, and exploration, challenging young minds, and finding answers to long-term questions.”

——Philip Schiller P’17

“This extraordinary act of generosity and vision by Phil and Kim Schiller will transform the Coastal Studies Center into a facility where students and faculty from Bowdoin and from other institutions can gather together for concentrated periods to learn from each other and to advance knowledge and understanding about the ocean, marine science, and the impact of climate change on marine life,” said Bowdoin College President Clayton S. Rose.
Research and exploration will expand into new dry lab facilities.

Meet the Schillers

The Schillers stand on the Maine coastPhil Schiller is senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple in Cupertino, California, and a member of the company’s executive team. A graduate of Boston College, where he majored in biology, he has over thirty years of marketing and management experience, including twenty-five years at Apple in various marketing management positions. He serves on the board of trustees at Boston College and the board of directors at Illumina, a worldwide DNA-sequencing firm headquartered in San Diego, California.

Kim Gassett-Schiller, who earned her undergraduate degree in business and accounting at Salem State University, is a trustee at the Rhode Island School of Design, a member of the board of directors of the Salem State Foundation, and co-chair of Salem State’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. 

They have two sons: Erik and Mark—a member of the Bowdoin Class of 2017.

The Perfect Natural Lab

trailmap of Harpswell and the SCSCThe Schiller Coastal Studies Center (SCSC) offers faculty and students a perfect natural lab, providing opportunities for field- and laboratory-based learning and interdisciplinary study unlike those available at any other liberal arts college in the country.

Together, faculty and students study the interplay between physical and biological processes and cross-disciplinary research approaches to the most important environmental issues of this century.

A monitoring station is located at the Center, aiding in the detection and tracking of environmental changes resulting in things like temperature rise and ocean acidification. 

“We all have a role to play in preserving our natural habitats. We wanted to do our part in advancing ocean conservation in collaboration with Bowdoin, which has one of the world’s most prestigious environmental studies programs and a beautiful, rich coastline. The ocean is their lab.”

——Kim Gassett-Schiller P’17

Bowdoin’s longstanding commitment to teaching and study of the environment

The SCSC strengthens Bowdoin’s teaching and scholarship on environmental issues, which crosses many disciplines, and includes faculty and students in the departments of biology, chemistry, earth and oceanographic science, economics, government and legal studies, philosophy and history and programs in Arctic studies and environmental studies.

In addition to the SCSC, ongoing coastal and environmental research takes place on Bowdoin’s central campus and at the Bowdoin Scientific Station, which is located at Kent Island and the adjacent Hay and Sheep Islands in the Bay of Fundy.

The new 29,000-square-foot Roux Center for the Environment brings together scholars and students from across the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities to further enhance the teaching and study of the environment.

“At this critical point in history, our vision at Bowdoin is to continue to invest in interdisciplinary environmental education and problem solving around the environment. ”

——President Clayton S. Rose

On the Coast of Maine

On 118 acres and with 2.5 miles of coastline, the Schiller Coastal Studies Center is located on Orr’s Island, only 12 miles from Bowdoin’s campus.

History of the Schiller Coastal Studies Center Property

The Schiller Coastal Studies Center property was donated to Bowdoin by William H. Thalheimer ’27 and Irma G. Thalheimer.
A $2.1-million gift from LL Bean Chairman Leon Gorman ’56, H’83 and Lisa Gorman made it possible for Bowdoin to move forward on developing the property for academic use as a laboratory and research facility.
A gift from Geoffrey C. Rusack ’78, P’13 and Alison Wrigley Rusack P’13, along with support from the National Science Foundation, funded a pier and dock at the Center.

A 1,500-square-foot Leighton Sailing Center was dedicated at the property in honor of Charles M. Leighton ’57.

We can't wait to give you a tour of the Schiller Coastal Studies Center.