To the Editors,

One might think that an old white guy (Class of ’64) like me would be cheering the recent National Association of Scholars study for putting Bowdoin in its place. After all, the report notes that the Bowdoin I knew is a far cry from Bowdoin today and suggests that the changes have been very detrimental to the Bowdoin experience.

One would be dead wrong. I say this with above-average awareness of Bowdoin yesterday vs. Bowdoin today. I’ve stayed very involved: I’ve worked in admissions when the College went coeducational and made SATs optional, served as host parent to several fine students, given mock interviews for Career Planning, attended cultural and sporting events, served as Assistant Secretary to the Board, wrote for the magazine, and audited two courses. In addition, I’ve come to know several other students from a wide variety of backgrounds since I returned to Brunswick 11 years ago. 

The report suggests that Bowdoin isn’t rigorous. While there has been grade inflation, Bowdoin is much tougher today than in my day—more reading, more papers, more emphasis on class discussion, more group projects, more people in the library on a Friday night, and fewer “gut” (easy) classes. Dare I admit that in my French class—a gut—we never had to speak a word of French?

The report implies that Bowdoin students are being politically indoctrinated by a liberal faculty. This implication insults both the students and the faculty. I often ask students to name some top faculty and some of Bowdoin’s “conservative” professors regularly appear on the list. I ask if those—or any other—professors inject their politics into the discussions, and they say, “No.”

The report mocks the Common Good, multi-culturalism and area studies. Striving for the Common Good, helping students be “at home in all lands” and connecting disciplines remain Bowdoin hallmarks.  

Space precludes addressing other issues. I’d just add that a review of the National Association of Scholars website suggests that any top college or university would have received an equally scathing report. (The NAS wrote a scathing report about the University of Texas at Austin and cited an article blasting the Naval Academy for the same sins).  The term Johnny One Note comes to mind.

Sincerely (and in full support of Bowdoin today),
David Treadwell ’64