The 2011-2012 academic year had its fair share of controversy, including a forfeited NESCAC championship, debate over a weeklong Thanksgiving break, and protests against changes to chem-free housing. The scandals and triumphs are recounted here in a summary of the year's most noteworthy happenings.
In a May 21 post on the Bowdoin Daily Sun, President Barry Mills announced the College's decision to officially forfeit Bowdoin's first-ever NESCAC championship in men's ice hockey. The decision followed the College's discovery that hazing had occurred at a post-season initiation event on May 11. Though the exact nature of the incident remains unclear, Mills wrote on the Daily Sun that the team had "willfully disregarded" the College's policy prohibiting hazing. Bowdoin is the first institution in conference history to voluntarily vacate a NESCAC championship.
Former Bowdoin President A. Leroy Greason, 88, died in Brunswick on August 28. Greason, who began teaching at Bowdoin as an English professor in 1952, served as the College's 12th president from 1981 to 1990. In his roughly 10 years as president, Greason oversaw the institution of distribution requirements, an interdisciplinary curriculum, and the letter grade system used today. In addition, he increased the number of tenure-track female professors .
Bowdoin earned its sixth-highest single-year gain in endowment returns since 1970. The College's investment return was 22.3 percent, with the endowment rising to $904.2 million. This number is up from $735.5 million in fiscal year 2010. The median return among educational funds, tracked by investment advisory firm Cambridge Associates, was 19.7 percent in fiscal year 2011. According to Senior Vice President for Investments Paula Volent, Bowdoin has a 10-year annualized endowment return of 9.4 percent.
A Baptist pastor sparked controversy on campus after delivering a sermon on the Book of Romans at a weekly chapel service hosted by the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship (BCF). Two students walked out of the chapel in reaction to what they considered to be homophobic remarks. The Office of Multicultural Student Programs permanently withdrew funding for future BCF chapel services.
Thomas Klingenstein—who has previously attempted to spar with Mills over a perceived liberal bias at the College—announced that he is funding a study of intellectual diversity at Bowdoin. The study, which is directed by the National Association of Scholars (NAS) is entitled "What Does Bowdoin Teach?" According to the NAS website, the study will examine Bowdoin's core intellectual values, as well as its openness to diverse opinions. The results of the study have not yet been released.
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art closed the "Edward Hopper's Maine" exhibition on October 16, concluding one of its most successful shows to date. In its first month, the exhibition drew approximately 15,000 people; annual attendance at the museum is usually around 25,000. The exhibition also made headlines in The Washington Post, on MSNBC, and in the Japanese newspaper, Manichi Daily News.
The Meddiebempsters, Bowdoin's oldest a capella group, faced a number of disciplinary measures after the Student Organizations Oversight Committee concluded that the group had hazed its first years. The committee determined that the a cappella group's initiation activities on September 16 violated the student government's club policy and the College's hazing policy. As a result of the ruling, the Meddiebempsters were banned from singing at select athletic and departmental events until March 10.
The women volleyball team's most successful season to date ended on November 12 when the Polar Bears lost to UMass-Boston 3-2. The game occurred in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. The team concluded its season with an overall record of 27-3, setting a program record for wins. It had a perfect NESCAC regular season with a record of 10-0. The team also celebrated their first-ever NESCAC Championship, NCAA tournament bid and NCAA tournament victory.
The field hockey team's quest to make history by winning four national championships in five years ended this month when Bowdoin lost to Middlebury in the D-III semifinals on November 19. The Panthers beat the Polar Bears with a score of 3-0. The three goals that Bowdoin allowed to Middlebury constituted a season high, and the loss broke the team's 26-game winning streak. The Polar Bears finished with an overall record of 19-1.
The international Occupy Wall Street movement reached campus when Occupy Bowdoin held its first gathering in Smith Auditorium. Over 100 individuals—students, professors and community members—gathered to participate in the inaugural Occupy Bowdoin Teach-In. Participants also debated the movement's future, voicing their belief that the movement needed redirection and organization.
The faculty voted 47-28 against extending Thanksgiving break from three days to a full week, shooting down a proposal to cancel classes the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The motion would have also shortened Fall Break to one day. and converted the first Friday of the semester to a Monday/Wednesday schedule. Bowdoin Student Government first suggested the proposal in November, stating in a resolution that the current schedule constitutes a "geographic discrimination" against students who live far from Maine.
In commemoration of 40 years of women at Bowdoin, the College launched its first Women at Bowdoin archival website. The website is the product of Professor of Gender and Women's Studies Jennifer Scanlon's class Forty Years: The History of Women at Bowdoin. The project examines specific areas of the College's history pertaining to coeducation, ranging from women's participation in extracurriculars and athletics to the development of the Women's Resource Center.
On January 13, Karen Mills, wife of President Barry Mills and administrator of the Small Business Association, was elevated to a cabinet-level officer by President Barack Obama. Mills' position had been part of the cabinet under the Clinton administration, but had not been under President Bush. The appointment came after the Small Business Association gave out more guaranteed loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2011 than it had ever before.
After numerous failed efforts, Brunswick eateries will finally accept OneCards. Using the UGryd system, merchants are now able to charge students' accounts in a similar manner to a credit card. Domino's Pizza, Aki Sushi and Hibachi and Big Top Delicatessen were the first collaborators, and Flipside Pizza, Henry & Marty Restaurant, Joshua's Restaurant and Tavern, and Wild Oats Bakery & Café have since joined.
A new student-run venture became the latest craze to hit the College when Campus Food Trucks opened for business. Though the idea had originally been slated to start at the beginning of fall semester, logistical negotiations delayed the process until this winter. The food truck is stationed outside of Smith Union, and is open from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
For a few days, at least, Bowdoin boasted the fastest Wi-Fi Internet in the world. A new wireless system designed by Cisco placed Aironet 3600 Series access points throughout campus. IT decided to get the new system in part because the number of devices connected to the Bowdoin network has doubled in the past year.
In the first compilation of post-graduation data in recent memory, a one-year-out survey for the Class of 2010 revealed that 72 percent of graduates had a paid employment as of last summer. Twenty-seven percent of these graduates are working in education-related fields, 23 percent in business, and 12 percent in finance. Sixteen percent of the Class of 2010 is currently at graduate school, and just four percent is unemployed.
Tim Foster, dean of student affairs, announced in an email to the campus that the voluntary tradition of Pre-Orientation trips would become a mandatory component of the first year orientation program, effective this upcoming year. Though the change was met with some opposition, especially from fall athletes worried about missing out on valuable practice time, Foster wrote that the trips are a valuable part of the introduction to Bowdoin and that having everyone participate will further unite the incoming class.
The College established a second investment office in NYC, though it will maintain the one in Brunswick. In doing so, it opened another doorway through which to oversee and expand Bowdoin's endowment portfolio, according to Paula Volent, senior vice president for investments.
Longtime Maine senator Olympia Snowe announced that she will not be running for re-election this year and that she will be stepping down from a position she has held since 1995. She was a state representative for 16 years, including a six-year stint as First Lady of Maine. In the following days, Angus King, former Maine governor and distinguished lecturer at Bowdoin, announced on campus that he would run for Snowe's seat.
After months of discussion, a committee working to redesign chem-free housing released a set of recommendations on how the system can be changed. Options included a floating floor model—in which Hyde Hall would no longer be entirely chem-free and instead individual chem-free floors would be spread among the first year dorms—and the modified affiliation of Hyde and Howell House.
In response to the aforementioned chem-free changes, a petition to elucidate the downsides of breaking up Hyde Hall and separating chem-free students collected over 400 signatures. The process is an ongoing discussion on campus.
In the 40th anniversary year of women being admitted to Bowdoin, the College faculty is, for the first time, comprised of the same amount of men as women. In recent years especially, resources and benefits for faculty with families have been improved, among them a policy allowing professors to put a hold on their tenure clock while on leave.
After attempting to use fake IDs to buy alcohol at Rite Aid, two Bowdoin students were charged with forgery by the Brunswick Police Department. In the past, it has been common for possession of a fraudulent ID card to be issued in response to fake IDs, but on this occasion it was marked as a criminal offense.