Dear President Rose,

I was shocked and very disappointed this week to learn that Bowdoin college is planning to terminate its relationship with John Bisbee. I was lucky enough to get one of the coveted spots in John's Sculpture I class my first semester at Bowdoin and it shaped my entire four years and life since.  The love of making art that I discovered in that tiny room in the top of Mass Hall fifteen years ago is the most important thing I took away from my Bowdoin experience.  

I've studied art at Bowdoin, MICA, and NYU and have been lucky enough to learn from successful working artists from Tylden Streett to Spike Lee to Todd Solondz.  I can say without a doubt that no one genuinely cares about their students like John does.  And John cares so much about every student, not just those, like me, who wanted to pursue careers in the arts, but every student regardless of talent or experience.  If you showed up to work, he showed up for you.  The work ethic he inspired, and the joy he taught us how to find in the process of doing the work, not just in the final project, is something that still serves me today.  

John's teaching is definitely unconventional, and I was aware that it made the administration nervous back in 2003 when I requested John as my advisor and was strongly discouraged by all.  I'm glad that I persevered because he was a fantastic advisor.  John was the subject of one of my first short films when I started my MFA program at Tisch.  I made the film on practically no budget and he let my crew stay in his house and cooked dinner for us during our stay.  He provides employment and free studio space for Bowdoin alumni at Fort Andross.  He makes Bowdoin, and the town of Brunswick, more vibrant and culturally relevant place for art.  

In 2007 I helped to create the Jean Kaempfer Artists Fund to support financially disadvantaged students enrolled in the Department of Studio Art, for the purchase of art supplies, one or more summer internships, or other supplemental activities or supplies needed to pursue their interest in Studio Art.  It was solely because of my experiences in John’s classes that the fund was created.  The students who have received support from the Jean Kaempfer Artist Fund have John to thank as much as anyone in my family. In this way, as in so many others, John's work and dedication extends far beyond the forty or fifty students who take his classes each year.

I feel so lucky to have had John as a professor.  It makes me incredibly sad to think that incoming students won’t get to experience his classes.  It's such a loss, and the worst part is that it's completely avoidable.

-Annie Kaempfer​