After 18 years of service to the College, Registrar Christine Cote announced that she will retire from her post this June. Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Jim Higginbotham said that Cote hopes to pursue photography and other artistic interests in retirement, building upon an already blossoming career in the fine arts.
"As we close out this academic year, Christine is working closely with her colleagues and the Dean for Academic Affairs office to ensure a smooth transition," wrote Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd in an email to the Orient. "Until a new registrar is appointed, Associate Dean Jim Higginbotham will be working with the registrar's office and overseeing the transition."
Cote first came to Bowdoin in 1992 and served as the director of Institutional Research when the College was first beginning to collect historical data for long-term planning.
"Christine came in the early 1990s, when [Institutional Research] was just getting started," said Higginbotham. "Most colleges and universities were beginning to grapple with understanding historic data and how that could help us...plan the way the College would grow."
Cote holds a doctorate in education from Western Michigan University, and her arrival at the College precipitated the development of a number of administrative changes in institutional research.
"Christine has overseen a number of important changes since coming to Bowdoin," wrote Judd. "She helped create the Office of Institutional Research at the College and, as registrar, was instrumental in the development of Bearings, and has helped steer the College towards a new student information system."
Of Cote's tenure at the Office of Institutional Research, Higginbotham said, "Christine was an early pioneer in that field of research nationally and came to Bowdoin to help us understand the bigger picture—it was something new."
Cote worked closely with the Office of the Registrar as director of Institutional Research before she took on her position as registrar in 1995.
"The registrar is one of the more critical pieces of an academic institution...[she's] responsible for the veracity and integrity of the transcript, and in some ways helps guarantee it as a legal document," said Higginbotham.
Cote has played a critical role in the evolution of the curriculum and the student body, and with her departure the College will lose a storehouse of institutional memory.
"Because of her perspective in understanding the history of the curriculum at Bowdoin, [Cote] was a very important resource for almost every decision involving the curriculum that has been made since I've been here," said Higginbotham. "A great skill that she had was making sure that we could change without making mistakes."
"There was really no person involved in any policy decisions that we undertook that had the breadth of knowledge that she did," he added. "She helped us avoid mistakes."
Judd reported that a national search for a new registrar will be launched shortly.
"Just getting together the description of that position will involve talking to an awful lot of people," said Higginbotham. "What we want in a future registrar is defined in no small part by what we had."
Higginbotham said that the Office of Academic Affairs hopes to have a new registrar in place by the beginning of the fall semester.
"It's impossible to replace her perfectly," he said. "She's a very funny person. She also is an accomplished artist and photographer and has a very creative side."
According to her professional photography website, Cote owns the online art gallery Still Point Art Gallery. In her artist statement, Cote writes, "the process of photography helps me satisfy my need for creative expression, my desire to explore fragments of the world's visual landscape, and my search for stillness."
Despite her retirement, Cote will remain accessible to both the new registrar and the Office of Academic Affairs as preparations are made for the transition to a new student information system.
"Christine is a highly professional colleague, with strong attention to detail and a deep and abiding commitment to Bowdoin and its students," wrote Judd.