Message from Scott Perper, chair of the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees

Dear members of the Bowdoin community and friends,

It is my honor, on behalf of the board of trustees and the Presidential Search Committee, to announce that Safa Zaki has been unanimously elected the sixteenth president of Bowdoin College—the first woman to lead the College in our 229-year history. Safa is currently the dean of the faculty and the John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professor of Psychology at Williams College.

The Presidential Search Committee began nine months ago to conduct a national search for a successor to President Clayton Rose. The committee, which included trustee, faculty, staff, student, and alumni representation, was guided thoughtfully and ably by cochairs Sydney Asbury ’03 and Bertrand Garcia-Moreno ’81, P’17. Input was gathered from community surveys, the solicitation of nominations from the larger Bowdoin community, and during numerous listening sessions, allowing the committee to hear from hundreds of members of our community. At the core we heard, “The next president will be an innovative and collaborative leader whose values are aligned with a college that has an unwavering commitment to academic excellence, to the principles of diversity and inclusion, and to the common good.”

Safa embodies all of the important qualities we aspired to find in our next president. A distinguished scholar and a proven leader with a global perspective, she believes deeply in the transformative powers of a liberal arts education. Her exceptional career in the academy, her appreciation for the humanities as well as science and technology, and her commitment to the imperatives of diversity, equity, and inclusion coupled with an authentic and engaging approach to leadership and team building make Safa the right choice for Bowdoin. Safa is married to Huff Templeton, and they have two recent college graduates—Adly (Williams College Class of 2020) and Sabrina (Middlebury College Class of 2022). You can read about Safa’s background, achievements, and credentials here on the Bowdoin website.

As we celebrate the appointment of Safa Zaki, we must also acknowledge the tremendous debt of gratitude we owe Clayton Rose for his eight years of devoted leadership at the College. Clayton’s legacy includes his unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion, promoting open and respectful discourse on tough issues, deft judgment navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding Bowdoin’s prominent role in the teaching and study of the environment, and continuing to improve access for all students. Clayton has positioned Bowdoin exceptionally well to further advance the liberal arts through our incredible faculty, dedicated staff, our extraordinary and diverse student body, and an enviable financial position evidenced by our strong endowment.

I am deeply grateful to the other eighteen members of the Presidential Search Committee and to Eli Orlic, staff liaison to the committee, for their unstinting service to the College on this journey. They offered, without hesitation, their invaluable time, boundless energy, considered thoughts, and constant optimism. These virtues allowed us to review a diverse, sizeable, and accomplished pool of candidates. Simply put, today’s exciting announcement is the result of their insights and resolve.

Bowdoin is truly a special place, due primarily to the strength of our culture that radiates from our community and is felt by those we most hope to attract to the College. Important moments like this would not be possible without you, the Bowdoin family—thank you!

When you see Safa and Huff, please offer them a warm “Bowdoin Hello!” 

Sincerely yours,

Scott B. Perper
Chair, Bowdoin College Board of Trustees