As colleges and universities across the country are grappling with issues of sexual assault and race relations, Bowdoin Board of Trustees Chair-Elect Michelle Cyr ’76, P ’12 is uniquely prepared for her upcoming role. 

Cyr is a professor of medicine and medical science and an Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. She specializes in women’s health, particularly menopause. 

 As former co-chair of Brown’s Sexual Assault Task Force, current chair of Brown’s Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board and a member of multicultural committees at both Brown and Bowdoin, Cyr noted that she is not the conventional pick for chair of Bowdoin’s Board of Trustees. 

 “I did joke with someone that in the 222 years of Bowdoin, this is probably the first time that an announcement of the new chair of the Board has been associated with the words “sexual assault” and “menopause,” said Cyr. “I think this is a new day for Bowdoin.”

 This is not Cyr’s first time breaking into what have historically been male-dominated scenes. She was the only girl on her high school track team and was a member of the College’s second class of women. 

 Cyr, who attended a public high school, admitted that she was a little worried when she first came to Bowdoin in 1972. At the time, coming from public school to Bowdoin was not common, and that combined with her gender made her even more of a minority. However, she said that the College quickly adapted to being coeducational.

 “You had an option. You could be in an all-women’s dorm,” said Cyr. “I decided to go all in, and I went for a co-ed dorm. I was actually in Appleton.” 

An art and biochemistry double major, Cyr dabbled in medical illustration after graduation before going on to Dartmouth Medical School and fulfilling her residency at Maine Medical Center in Portland.  

Cyr is aware that her background is not common on the Board of Trustees—about half of its members have financial backgrounds. She sees this as a strength, especially given the issues that colleges and universities are facing today.  

“As trustees we come to the Board as outsiders, so we all bring areas of expertise from our lives,” Cyr said. “This just happens to be my expertise—sexual assault and misconduct, and multiculturalism. I am currently chairing the search for the medical school’s associate dean for diversity and multicultural affairs here at Brown.” 

Cyr explained that while her work can at times focus on hot-button issues, it hasn’t been an issue at Bowdoin. 

“Some of my work at Brown is in areas of controversy, especially sexual assault. At Bowdoin, I didn’t feel that there was controversy as a member of the Special Committee on Multicultural Affairs. We all agreed that diversity and inclusion are important goals for Bowdoin,” Cyr said.

At Brown, Cyr welcomes Bowdoin medical school applicants personally and tries to make interview days special by inviting current medical students who graduated from Bowdoin to visit with applicants. 

 “I am on a mission to bring more Polar Bears here to be Brown Bears,” said Cyr.

 Excited for her next trip to the College in the spring, Cyr was torn when asked about her favorite dining hall, and while she couldn’t make a final decision, she had an initial reaction.
 “There was no Thorne when I was at Bowdoin, so I have a spot in my heart for Moulton.”