President Clayton Rose

Clayton Rose headshot
Photo: David Hume Kennerly

Clayton has served as Bowdoin’s fifteenth president since July 1, 2015. He announced in April 2022 that he will step down on June 30, 2023.

Clayton has strengthened the intellectual mission of the College; vigorously championed “intellectual fearlessness”—the imperative of respectful engagement with ideas that challenge our own; significantly expanded the College’s work to create diversity, equity, and inclusion; increased access and opportunity for students; addressed the mental health challenge facing the current generation of students and young people; reimagined and significantly expanded  career development; and enhanced and strengthened the College’s leadership in sustainability. He leaves the College in excellent financial condition, with success in its most ambitious fundraising campaign, with record amounts raised in annual funds, and with one of the highest alumni participation rates in the country. His tenure also saw construction of essential new facilities for teaching, learning, research, residential life, and athletics, as well as a new home for Bowdoin’s storied Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. 

During his presidency, applications increased by 38 percent. Students of color increased from 30 percent to 43 percent and first-generation students from 10 to 17 percent. First-year students receiving financial aid increased from 45 to 49 percent, with the College expanding its aid program by eliminating the summer work requirement for many students, increasing aid to middle-class families, and extending “need-blind” admission to international students. Bowdoin is now one of only seven colleges and universities in the country that are need-blind in admissions, with no loan/grant only in aid packages, and that meet the full calculated need of every matriculating student for all four years. The THRIVE program was also established during Clayton’s tenure, to address the needs of students entering Bowdoin from significantly under-resourced high schools, and Bowdoin launched an effort to actively recruit veterans and community college students for admission to the College.

Three new facilities—the Roux Center for the Environment, the Schiller Coastal Studies Center, and the John and Lile Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies—along with the Bowdoin Scientific Station established in 1936 on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy, position Bowdoin to significantly advance its work and leadership in the interdisciplinary and interconnected studies of the oceans, environment, climate, and the Arctic.

Clayton led Bowdoin through the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the College successfully delivered on its two goals of protecting the health and safety of the campus and larger Brunswick communities and providing a strong Bowdoin education to its students, while also continuing its work on the priorities for the future. In addition, no employees were laid off or furloughed, salary and benefit cuts were restored well ahead of peer institutions, and budgets were balanced using existing operating reserves without the need for extraordinary steps.

In addition, the first comprehensive review in decades of board governance was undertaken, with changes that strengthened the engagement of the board of trustees with the long-term issues facing the College. The diversity of the board—across race, gender, age, professional background, and sexual orientation, among other dimensions—was also significantly increased, as was the diversity of the College’s senior staff.

Prior to arriving at Bowdoin, Clayton served on the faculty of the Harvard Business School, where he taught and wrote on issues of leadership, ethics, the financial crisis that began in 2008, and the role of business in society. He spent the first twenty years of his career in finance, retiring as vice chairman at J.P. Morgan, having run several global divisions of the bank. He earned his undergraduate degree (1980) and MBA (1981) at the University of Chicago. In 2003, following his business career, he enrolled in the doctoral program in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania to study issues of race in America, earning his master’s degree in 2005 and his PhD with distinction in 2007. He is a member of the board of directors of Bank of America, where he chairs the Enterprise Risk Committee. He has also served on a number of other corporate boards. Clayton is also the chair of the board of trustees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the nation’s largest academic biomedical research organization, with an endowment of $25 billion.

He and his wife of forty years, Julianne, live on the Bowdoin campus.


January 2023