When members of the Bowdoin community reminisce about President Barry Mills in five, 10, or 15 years, they will talk about his expansion of financial aid, his fundraising skills and the many campus buildings constructed during his career. But when the students who matriculated during Mills’ tenure talk about him, they’ll remember other things: the times he sat down with students during lunch at Thorne Dining Hall, his slow walks across the Quad, his printed face glued to popsicle sticks during this year’s Bowdoin-Colby hockey game. President Mills achieved the ultimate success at Bowdoin: He grew the College’s national profile while still making it feel like home.

Considering how well he fits the identity of the College, it is ironic that Mills was an afterthought for the 2001 presidential search committee—a committee Mills himself chaired. A biology and government double major and a member of the Class of 1972, Mills took full advantage of the liberal arts experience while a student at Bowdoin. After leaving Brunswick, he continued his varied academic pursuits, earning a doctorate in biology and a law degree. Mills then became a successful lawyer in New York and began volunteering his time as a Trustee of the College shortly thereafter. 

Once chosen as President, Mills’ prowess as a fundraiser stood out among his other achievements. Some may only remember him for the capital campaign from 2004 to 2009 that raised $250 million, or for his stewardship of the College recession, but Mills was much more than just a financial leader. He took a genuine interest in the experiences of the students, attending and participating in lectures, performances, presentations and athletic events. He also took campus issues head on, responding directly to the National Association of Scholar’s conservative critique of the College in 2013 and meeting continuously with campus activists throughout his tenure.

President Mills’ accessibility and affable nature extended to his approach to admissions, an area in which he did hands-on work to bring the best and brightest to Bowdoin. Many remember Mills approaching them and their parents at Accepted Students Day to give an honest assessment of the College, while others received personal phone calls from Mills when they were still in the midst of choosing the right school. For Mills, bringing the best to Bowdoin meant relentlessly dedicating himself and the College to increasing financial aid funds and ensuring that no accepted student would be unable to attend for monetary reasons. This past December, the faculty endowed a scholarship in honor of Mills and his wife, Karen, and their commitment to the practice of need-blind admissions. The faculty gave him a standing ovation, and he deserved nothing less.

Although Mills will not officially relinquish leadership of the College until July 1, he is probably experiencing many of the same sentiments of nostalgia that graduating seniors are feeling. Fittingly, he will soon be made an honorary member of the Class of 2015. When you see President Mills around campus before you pack up for the summer, don’t hesitate to stop him and thank him for what he’s done for the College. If we’ve learned anything about him, it’s that he’ll be more than happy to stop and chat. 

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Garrett Casey, Ron Cervantes, Sam Chase, Matthew Gutschenritter, Nicole Wetsman and Kate Witteman.