This week, we have compiled the most important stories from the decade pertaining to admissions and student aid, the environment, and the common good. We have pulled a selection of actual headlines from former issues, and condensed and synthesized stories relevant to each headline in order to showcase some of the most significant moments and enduring issues covered by the Orient. While our compilation is comprehensive, it is by no means complete. We encourage readers to pursue these headlines and others in our online archives, and to read our future installments of this series over the next several weeks.
Topics to come: College finances, Maine and Brunswick issues, and a look ahead.
Peace Corps award presented to Bowdoin, October 6, 2000
The College was presented with the Peace Corps' Outstanding Service Award in October of 2000, in recognition of the many Bowdoin alumni who join the Peace Corps after graduation.
While alumni involvement in the Peace Corps was noteworthy throughout the decade, a January 2006 Orient article reported that the College had ranked 20th on a list of the top 25 small schools generating the most Peace Corps volunteers. The College made the list again in 2007, earning 24th place for its 14 alumni serving as volunteers at the time, according to a January 2008 Orient article.
Director of the Career Planning Center Tim Diehl said that the Peace Corps, in addition to Teach for America, had been one of the leading employers of Bowdoin graduates for years.
"Peace Corps always does very well on campus in terms of attracting students," said Diehl, citing the program's correlation with the Common Good ideals instilled in many students during their time at the College.
A number of students interviewed said that study abroad experiences had contributed to their decision to join the Peace Corps. Others cited a continued interest in volunteering, a desire for field experience and adventure, and the difficulty of obtaining jobs as reasons for applying.
Bowdoin lags in common good rankings, September 16, 2005
A ranking system developed by the Washington Monthly as an alternative to the U.S. News and World Report's rankings placed Bowdoin low on the charts in the categories of promotion of social mobility and commitment to research, the Orient reported. According to the September 2005 article, the Washington Monthly rankings focused on what colleges could offer students, and instead identified colleges who offered service back to the country and community.
Among liberal arts colleges, Bowdoin was ranked 35th overall, and finished 18th in the social mobility category and 34th in research. Social mobility scores were calculated by approximating each school's success rate in educating students with disadvantaged backgrounds. The calculations, however, relied on predicting graduation rates based on the percentage of students using Pell Grants, and the College does not make this data public.
College administrators said they were not overly concerned about the Washington Monthly rankings.
"We take these things with a grain of salt," said Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood. "People are fascinated with lists and rankings, but there's not always a lot of substance."
Classes, student projects examine local, global poverty crises, March 31, 2006
A student initiative in the September of 2004 brought the first kNOw Poverty Week to campus in the spring of 2005, according to an April 1, 2005 Orient article. Aimed at raising awareness about the realities of poverty, the inaugural week focused on issues at stake in northern Maine, emphasizing the drastically different challenges faced by northern and southern communities.
The events of kNOw Poverty Week in subsequent years sought to examine poverty from a variety of perspectives, with exhibits and presentations ranging from topics of local health issues to global concerns about homelessness.
Increased interest from students and faculty in poverty issues led to the creation of an interdisciplinary course called Examining Poverty, as well as "a push for the creation of a poverty studies center that would include a course cluster to help students identify pertinent classes," according to a March 2006 Orient article.
Associate Professor of Education Nancy Jennings said that the half-credit Examining Poverty course was designed to allow professors to "come in and talk about their research and the methodology they use to look at poverty." Meeting once a week over dinner, the course featured lectures by professors of art, economics, history, sociology, environmental studies, education, anthropology and philosophy.
In the same year, professors advocating for the establishment of a Center for Poverty Studies said they hoped to bring in speakers on poverty issues, as well as start a course cluster to help students navigate the possibilities for contributing to and learning about the Common Good. Professor of Studio Art Thomas Cornell said that emphasis would be particularly placed on the responsibility of students "to confront what their responsibility is toward poverty."
"President Hyde's 'Offer of the College' was written in 1906. Now, 100 years later, we want to freshly define the good in relationship to issues of global, distributive and environmental justice. These are foundational to Bowdoin and to education," he said.
Center for Common Good will open in '08, April 27, 2007
The College announced in April 2007 that a Center for the Common Good was scheduled to open by the fall of 2008, and would serve as a central campus resource for supporting, teaching, and researching activities "grounded in community engagement and public service," the Orient reported.
Then-Director of the Community Service Resource Center (CSRC) Susie Dorn said that the goal of the center was to "weave the common good into the very fabric of this institution" by providing funding to merge the student-led CSRC with service learning courses and community-based faculty research.
Contributions made to the College's capital campaign for the purpose of establishing an endowment for the center, as well as donations made by alumni, helped fund the new program, but Dorn said that the physical space that the center now occupies on the first floor of Banister Hall was renovated "beautifully, though without great expense," thanks to student work through Professor of Art Wiebke Theodore's courses and artistic contributions made by A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli.
The CSRC began its transition from Adams Hall to Banister Hall in the summer of 2007, the Orient reported. In September 2008, the new space and program was officially dedicated as the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good. At the time of its opening, faculty members involved with the establishment of the McKeen Center said they hoped it would become an important part of campus while connecting students to compelling projects and issues.
A study conducted through focus groups during the summer of 2009 indicated that while some students had experience and contact with the McKeen Center, for some, the center had "limited visibility," according to the Senior Faculty Fellow Craig McEwen. Faculty cited the "abstract language" used to refer to the Common Good, the already-busy schedules of students, and a lack of awareness about options for service as reasons for student disengagement.
"Students don't yet understand the breadth of opportunities that the McKeen Center offers," said Dorn.
ASB volunteers bring lesson home to Bowdoin, April 7, 2006
Over the course of the decade, students travelled the globe while participating in Bowdoin's Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program, first coordinated by the CSRC in the spring of 2002, according to Dorn in a recent e-mail to the Orient.
Dorn said that the first official ASB trip took place in the spring of 2002, when then-Director of the CSRC Lydia Bell worked with a group of students who had already been going to Peru on their own over winter breaks. Two ASB trips took place the following year, one of which returned to Peru and the other of which volunteered with Safe Passage, the service organization founded by the late Hanley Denning '92.
Recent years have seen an average of seven or eight trips each spring. Students have embarked on varied projects in a wide range of communities, though most often in North and South America, and occasionally in Asia.
Hundreds volunteer for Common Good, September 19, 2008
On the 10th anniversary of the Annual Common Good Day, more than 500 participants contributed to service projects in a variety of local organizations, a turnout echoing the College's sustained enthusiasm for the event over the course of the decade. With projects over the years ranging from cleaning up the shoreline of Bowdoin's Coastal Studies Center to painting murals in the Brunswick Teen Center to working with adults with special needs, spots for projects were in high demand, particularly in recent years.
A number of student op-eds submitted to the Orient in past years have emphasized the importance of extending the enthusiasm for service prevalent on Common Good Day beyond the event itself. One student lamented that the three or four hours spent on service during the event "gives each student participant a healthy conscience for doing next to nothing." Another student defended the event, claiming that "Common Good Day represents much more than just three hours of service on a Saturday afternoon," and that the day can, and does, open doors for further service work.