Coming from far and wide, the 45 members of the Board of Trustees convened on campus over the weekend for its annual winter meeting. Among other items, the board granted tenure to three faculty members, chose five honorary degree recipients and listened to a presentation about development possibilities for the land that the College is likely to acquire once Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB) closes in May.

"The key of this meeting, the biggest thing, was talking about the Naval Air Station and what we have to keep in mind, where we are in the process right now, and what it means for the future," said BSG President John Connolly '11, who served as a student representative at the meeting.

"It's a complex thing, it's a long process, and it's potentially tremendously impactful for the future of the College," he said.

After trustee subcommittee meetings ended last Friday afternoon, the board met in plenary session to listen to a presentation by Philip Enquist, urban design and planning partner at Skidmore, Ownings & Merrill (SOM), the firm responsible for developing the College's long-term framework for growth.

Senior Vice President for Planning and Development Bill Torrey, who serves as staff liaison to the Board of Trustees, said that the College is currently trying to figure out how much of the NASB land is "actually developable." According to Torrey, there are theoretically 185 acres of usable land, but he cited a laundry list of issues that might render development impractical. Such causes include swampy land, protected areas for birds, large radii of open land for radar to support the new airport and excessive airplane traffic.

"What we're looking at right now, with the help of some land-use consulting people, is, 'What can we really do out there? What are we really getting?' We want to make sure that if we make this commitment we can really use the land for whatever we want to use it for," said Torrey.

Torrey explained that as deadlines near, the trustees have been especially curious about the level of financial commitment the development of the NASB land would require.

"We're taking a careful look now that we are close to having the conveyance, which could be in the fall of this year," said Torrey.

Torrey referenced a list of uses that the College has in mind for the additional NASB land, including athletic fields, environmental field stations, storage facilities and a large display space for art installations.

Connolly estimated that there is still some flexibility in how the land will be used and said that the presentation was largely informative.

"There were no decisions, nothing formal. It was just a discussion," said Connolly.

Trustee Greg Kerr '79 suggested the land acquisition would be important if the College has hopes for expansion.

"We don't plan to build...any major capital projects right now, but we're trying to be strategic and think about the growth of Bowdoin and the future," said Kerr. "The College, over the years, has grown in terms of student numbers... There's an expectation that this will continue to happen, that we'll continue to grow in numbers."

But after having seen the presentation, Kerr was still undecided as to whether he thinks that the NASB proposal would be the best move for the College at this time.

"At first glance it seems like a good idea, but then you hear about some of the challenges and we realize that we do have to do some more work," he said. "I think the College has done a really good job of looking at the pros and cons...and I think that by the time of our next board meeting [in May 2011] the College will hopefully present to us more information that will allow us to make an informed decision," he said.

The potential acquisition of the Longfellow School property was also discussed as part of the presentation.

"We hope to acquire it," said Torrey. "My guess is we will acquire it, [but] it just takes forever... The town has to decide what it wants to do. We've made them an offer."

As part of the meetings, three faculty members were also promoted to the position of associate professor with tenure: Connie Chiang for history and environmental studies, Rachel Sturman for history and Asian studies, and Gustavo Faverón-Patriau for Spanish. The three professors have been at Bowdoin since 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively.

The committee for academic affairs heard Dean Cristle Collins Judd's recommendations for tenure a few weeks ago, according to Kerr, who chairs the committee.

"It's a very stringent process, but when it gets to's almost a done deal," said Kerr. "Our role is basically to ensure that the process is being done correctly." The three nominations were ultimately approved in plenary session.

Five professors were awarded tenure last year, but Kerr said that there was no particular reason behind the decrease.

"Usually there are a few more people, but it varies. It can vary from three to maybe six," he said.

The board also voted to implement phase II of an enhanced sabbatical program, providing an increased number of competitive sabbatical supplement grants with funds raised during the capital campaign that ended in 2009.

In keeping with tradition, the trustees also voted to award five honorary degrees in different fields. The degrees will be presented during the 2011 commencement activities.

The degree of Doctor of Fine Arts will go to Mira Nair, an internationally acclaimed Indian filmmaker whose credits include titles such as "Monsoon Wedding" and "Vanity Fair." According to Torrey, although Nair is the mother of Zohran Kwame Mamdani '14, the honors committee was unaware of the connection until after Nair had already been selected.

Béla Fleck will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Music for his world-renowned and boundary-shattering banjo music. Fleck performed at Bowdoin to great acclaim last March and is scheduled to take the stage for a couple of songs at this year's baccalaureate, according to Torrey.

The degree of Doctor of Laws will go to occasional campus visitor and former Governor of Maine John Baldacci. During his two-term tenure, the Democrat notably overhauled the state's health care with the enactment of the Dirigo Health program.

The degree of Doctor of Science will go to Cynthia Friend, an award-winning researcher in catalytic synthesis and a professor of chemistry at Harvard University.

Finally, Henry Millon will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his extensive work as an architectural historian with the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. and his service as the first dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at that institution.

According to Torrey, the board "took a preliminary look" at the budget, but said that it will not be discussed in depth until the trustees reconvene in May, as is customary.

"We discussed money, as we always do," said Torrey. "The College is in good shape financially. I think that one of the things that the trustees feel good about is that, compared to when we were looking at the financial future two years ago, we feel more confident about the future."

"But that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of challenges in front of us," he added.

Both Torrey and Connolly balked, with a smile, when asked specifically about endowment performance. The endowment numbers are strictly released only once a year, in the fall.

According to Kerr, the trustees were also pleased to hear the news that President Barry Mills plans to stay at the College for at least five more years and they greeted the news with a standing ovation at the Friday meeting.

"I think there was a tremendous sense of enthusiasm and great joy that he's going to continue on," said Torrey.

Connolly said that they talked "generally, just very generally, about how admissions is going," and laughed about Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn's presentation, which included the good-hearted exhibition of a papier-mƒché polar bear sent in by an applicant especially intent on joining the Class of 2015. The admissions committee reported a 9 percent increase in applications this year.

In a change that is likely to be of little consequence to students, the board approved a new auditor, KPMG. The firm will replace PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, which had worked with the College for about 25 years.

"There was no problem with the firm that we had, but every now and then large entities like ourselves decide that it's always good to look around and perhaps see if there are other firms that could come in," said Torrey.

"It was a busy meeting," he added. "There was a lot going on and mostly good things."