When the College formally announces its drive for a quarter-billion dollars amid much fanfare in Boston on Friday night, alumni and other friends of Bowdoin will be asked to give generously to this small college in Maine. In an age when there are so many opportunities for giving to worthy causes around the globe, we wish to assure alumni that Bowdoin not only remains a place worthy of their support, but also is more worthy of their support than ever before. The fundraising effort focuses on development of financial aid and academic endowments?not the construction of swanky buildings?and these goals will build on the College's position as a place where intellectual and civic progress are valued above all else.
The Bowdoin Campaign's largest single priority is financial aid. The College aims to collect about $76 million for the financial aid endowment so that Bowdoin will remain able to meet students' demonstrated financial need in the decades ahead. The cost of a single year at Bowdoin exceeds the typical household income for a family in Maine, and administrators have been careful in recent years to keep costs down. Today, it is impossible for a student to singularly "work her way" through Bowdoin; we estimate that such a student would have to work at least 84 hours a week, every week of the year. And state and federal governments are of little help; recently, Congress has deliberated over improving student aid programs by just hundreds of dollars per year. Thus, the burden of ensuring that Bowdoin remains accessible to students from all economic backgrounds depends on the generosity of alumni.
President Barry Mills often rightly says that such financial aid programs act as investments in future leaders. The College's commitment to diversity and academic excellence in recent years stands as evidence that Bowdoin is increasingly defining itself as a place where the advancement of the public good is held paramount. However, it sometimes remains unclear how a Bowdoin education encourages leadership and civic responsibility?or whether students who come to Bowdoin are simply predisposed to take on leadership positions later in life. The Bowdoin Campaign attempts to concretize the rhetoric of the common good by endowing specific centers and programs for these purposes.
Through such programs, financial aid, and the expansion of academic priorities, the bulk of The Bowdoin Campaign further develops endowment funds. As such, the long-term success of Bowdoin as a place for intellectual excellence and thoughtful civic advancement is linked to the results of this campaign. Donors can be confident that a gift to Bowdoin today is a gift well made.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board. The editorial board is comprised of Bobby Guerette, Beth Kowitt, and Steve Kolowich.