Message to the Campus Community — August 27, 2018
To the campus community,
Welcome back! I hope everyone has had a great summer and that you are rested, ready, and energized to begin Bowdoin’s 217th academic year.
We’ll get underway tomorrow afternoon with the official opening of the College at Convocation, which will include remarks by Professor of Art Michael Kolster, Dean Tim Foster, and me (a little more on that below).
The Class of 2022
Last Tuesday, Julianne and I visited each of the Bricks and greeted many of our new first-year students and their families. Move-in day is one of our favorite times of the year, and it was again fantastic. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to formally welcome to Bowdoin our 510 new students—the Class of 2022—and our transfer and exchange students. As always, this was a special event, particularly with the memory of a wonderful Commencement still fresh.
As is true each summer, our faculty were busy again this year, pursuing their research, engaging their creative work, writing, and developing their courses, with many of our returning students assisting them with research and other projects. Other returning students pursued internships and fellowships or took part in work, service, travel, and scholarship, among other activities on campus and elsewhere. There’s a lot more detail on the web about what folks did this summer—it’s a truly impressive list.
The exceptional Winslow Homer exhibition at the Museum of Art has been drawing enthusiastic crowds (if you haven’t yet visited, you have plenty of time—it runs through October 28), and we were also active this summer with a variety of events and summer programs that made the most of our campus and midcoast Maine.
Our Commitment to Our Hourly Employees
Our facilities, housekeeping, and dining staff once again provided great food, kept our campus looking great, and served the needs of our many guests and the rest of us, while also making sure that we would be prepared for the fall semester with our campus in tip-top shape.
Our colleagues in these areas are indispensable to the College, and I am deeply grateful for the amazing work they do. Over the summer, we made a careful examination of our compensation program for these individuals. This is something we do on a regular basis, but given reports last spring that some staff members were having difficulty making ends meet, we wanted to take a fresh and detailed look. Our research examined market wage data for similar jobs at employers across southern and midcoast Maine and benefits data from businesses, hospitals, and other educational institutions in Maine, including a number of other leading Maine organizations that employ workers in facilities, dining, and housekeeping.
The conclusion is that Bowdoin’s compensation program is at the very top of the list of Maine employers, providing highly competitive hourly wages and an unmatched comprehensive benefits program. This is as it should be—our hourly colleagues are essential to making the College what it is, and they earn this market-leading compensation program. We make adjustments annually. This summer we increased the minimum starting wage rate at the College and, as a result of our review, we will also be increasing supplemental pay for employees who work weekends and/or late shifts.
We also know that, at times, some at the College—each with different individual and family situations—may face financial or other challenges. Bowdoin has a variety of programs in place to assist members of our community in times of need. If you know of any employee who is having difficulty, please direct them to human resources or to a workplace advisor, so that we can offer the assistance they may need.
As we have always done, we will continue to regularly review and adjust our compensation program and support programs for our employees to make sure they remain among the very best in Maine and that we are supporting the needs of our valued colleagues.
Our Changing Campus
If you look around campus, you will get a renewed sense of how we never stand still at Bowdoin. Our newest building, the Roux Center for the Environment, has just opened (more “just in time” than we had wanted—and my thanks to our faculty and staff who are moving for their patience and thoughtfulness, and to our facilities team for their considerable efforts). It will be dedicated officially in October with an academic symposium underscoring Bowdoin’s long commitment to the teaching and study of the environment. We are also well into the planning stages for the next chapter at the Schiller Coastal Studies Center that will include new laboratory and convening spaces, and we will soon break ground on four new upperclass student residences on Park Row.
Bowdoin Graduates Ten Years On
Finally, a committee of faculty, trustees, staff, and students has done truly great, forward-looking work in thinking about and proposing steps that will guide our college as we consider the knowledge, skills, and creative disposition each graduate of Bowdoin should possess a decade from now. I will say more about this tomorrow at Convocation, and all of us will continue be engaged in these questions this year and beyond.
So, another year is underway. I look forward to seeing you in the coming days, to hearing about your summer, and to all that we will do together.
All the best,