Published May 23, 2022 by Bowdoin News

Bowdoin to Award 450 Degrees at 217th Commencement May 28

Bowdoin will hold its 217th Commencement ceremony at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, May 28, 2022, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on 450 graduates.

President Clayton S. Rose will preside over Commencement and award degrees on the terrace of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art on the Quad.

In the event of very severe weather, Commencement will be held in Sidney J. Watson Arena.

Of the 450 graduates, thirty-eight are from Maine. 

Forty-three states are represented, including Massachusetts with sixty-four students, New York with fifty-seven, California with forty-one, and Connecticut with twenty-two. 

Fifty-two graduating seniors hail from outside the US; twenty-nine countries and territories have citizens graduating from Bowdoin.

Commencement Speakers

Since 1806, Bowdoin has given the honor of speaking at commencement to graduating seniors. Until 1877 every graduate had a speaking part.

The custom of selecting student Commencement speakers through competition began in the 1880s.

Past speakers have included poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1825, House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed 1860, Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary 1877, and biologist and researcher Alfred Kinsey ’16

This year’s Commencement speakers are Ryan Britt ’22 and Journey Browne ’22.

Other participants include Thomas College president and honorary degree recipient Laurie Gagnon Lachance ’83, P’13, who will deliver greetings from the State of Maine, and Eduardo Pazos Palmaassistant dean of student affairs for inclusion and diversity and director of multicultural student life, who will deliver the invocation, and class president Carlos Campos ’22.

During Commencement, Bowdoin will award honorary doctorates to contemporary artist Katherine Bradford, best-selling children's author Raquel Jaramillo (R. J. Palacio) P’18, economist and president of Thomas College Laurie Gagnon Lachance ’83, P’13, award-winning journalist and social activist Janet Langhart-Cohen, and decorated marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson ’79, P’12.

Commencement History

Bowdoin College was chartered in 1794, and held its first Commencement ceremony in 1806 in the second meetinghouse of First Parish Church across the street from the College.

There were seven graduates in the Class of 1806. The following year saw the smallest graduating class in the College’s history, with just three members in the Class of 1807.

The best-known class was the Class of 1825. In addition to Longfellow, the class included writer Nathaniel Hawthorne.

In 1875, on the day before Commencement at the fiftieth reunion of the class, Longfellow recited his poem “Morituri Salutamus,” an elegiac reflection on youth and age.


While the honorary degree recipients will not give speeches at the Commencement ceremony, they will participate in a variety of talks, all of which will be streamed live.


Lecture by contemporary artist Katherine Bradford, Visual Art Center, Kresge Auditorium, 7 p.m.


A conversation with award-winning journalist and social activist Janet Langhart-Cohen, Visual Art Center, Kresge Auditorium, Visual Art Center, 1:30 p.m.

A conversation with decorated marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson ’79, P’12, Studzinski Recital Hall, Kanbar Auditorium, 2:30 p.m.

Best-selling children’s author Raquel Jaramillo P’18 (R.J. Palacio) will deliver the keynote address at Baccalaureate, Sidney J. Watson Arena, 4:30 p.m.