This weekend when the Board of Trustees met to discuss the business of the College, for the first time a woman sat at the head of the table.
Deborah Barker ’80 was officially named Chair of the Board of Trustees to May. A member of the Class of 1980, she went on to receive an MBA from Harvard, and worked for many years as an investment banker. She currently spends her time outside the Board working with educational nonprofits.
Barker humbly acknowledges that it is a noteworthy accomplishment to be the first woman to chair the Board.
“There are a number of women in the last five to ten years who easily could have led the Board,” said Barker “I’m really proud to be the one that was chosen. But there’s nothing unique about me. There are many, many talented women who could have been chosen.”
Barker first joined the Board in 1999. During that time, she has witnessed many changes in campus life, including the College’s push to eliminate fraternities and immense physical changes on campus—most recently the addition of the Edwards Center Arts and Dance. She also noted seeing greater diversity among the student body in the last 15 years.
“The College looks like the world now, and it didn’t so much when I first got here,” she said.
Her term as Chair will last for three years. During that time, Barker hopes to continue to provide financial aid that will allow middle class families with the opportunity to send their children to Bowdoin.
“One of the richest things about this place is being able to say that we’re need blind, and making sure that the doors stay open to everyone who wants to come here,” said Barker.
She also wants to focus on the possibility for the College to join the increasing number of colleges and universities that offer massive open, online courses.
“Our lifeblood is that student-faculty relationship and small classes, face-to-face interaction,” said Barker. “We don’t want to lose that, but I think we need to find out if there’s a role for distance learning technology here.”
She does offer one bit of advice to Bowdoin students.
“Symbolically, it’s important for students at Bowdoin to understand that whatever you do—whatever career path you follow, whatever charitable organization you get involved in—if you shoot for the top, you can make it.”