Last Thursday, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Constitutional and International Law and Government Richard Ernest Morgan ’59 died of metastatic lung cancer at the age of 77. A distinguished professor who taught at his alma mater for 45 years, Morgan was buried yesterday in Pine Grove Cemetery—where many former faculty members, including Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and several College presidents, are also buried.
According to fellow Bowdoin faculty members, constitutional scholars from around the country and four decades worth of students, Morgan was a caring and dedicated scholar with a range of passions outside the classroom that added to his impressive life.
A Teacher at HeartMany liberal arts colleges do not have a permanent constitutional scholar on campus, and the most famous professors in the field are almost all faculty at prominent law schools—not undergraduate institutions.
“He was primarily interested in teaching to undergraduates,” said Michael Ulhmann, a constitutional law professor at the Claremont Graduate School who knew Morgan for over two decades. “That’s a rare thing in someone who’s marvelously competent at Con Law. I’m sure he was tempted by large schools…but he deliberately decided to return to his own school because he liked the idea of a liberal education in the old sense.”
Morgan was well published, writing numerous scholarly texts and hundreds of essays and articles about constitutional law for various journals and think tanks throughout his career. For professors like Uhlmann, Morgan was a trendsetter in the study of the Supreme Court, despite the relative anonymity that came with working at a small college in Maine.
“[Morgan] made me rethink a lot of things dealing with the First Amendment and the role of courts,” Uhlmann said. “[He] was, you might say, an originalist before that term became popular. That’s a pertinent and interesting point of view that really deserves to be heard and [Morgan] was among the very first in his own quiet way to do that. And his First Amendment views have really become the new orthodoxy, if I can put it that way, among a lot of very smart Con Law scholars. He had a very useful impact on people who follow these things closely, but not in a world of larger fame.”
Professor James Stoner, a constitutional law professor at Louisiana State University who Morgan befriended in the mid 1990s, echoed Uhlmann’s sentiments about Morgan’s role in their field.
“He could see a major case coming well before it was ever picked up in the press,” Stoner said. “He knew constitutional law so well that he had a whole feel for what the Court was doing and, mind you, that’s not because he thought the Court was doing the right things, but he still had a real sense of what direction they were heading in.”
Morgan was as appreciated by his students as he was by his colleagues. Many of his students, like Mitch Zulkie ’91, who studied law after Bowdoin and now works for the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, alluded to Morgan’s unique ability to question their assumptions in a scholarly and thought-provoking manner.
“He’s not the type of guy who gives you clear answers,” Zuklie said. “He forces you to think through probing questions. He trains people to ask those kinds of probing questions. When you ask, ‘Should I do X or Y?’ he never really says X or Y. He leads you to your own conclusion. But undoubtedly you were much the wiser for the questions he asked.”
Another of Morgan's former students, Ed Lee ’74, went on to become the Mayor of San Francisco, Calif. in 2011.
“We mourn the passing of Professor Dick Morgan, whose legacy lives on through the generations of students he had taught at Bowdoin, inspiring many—including myself—in a career of law and government," the mayor said in a statement to the Orient. “As Bowdoin's only constitutional law professor, Professor Morgan taught his students to think critically, thoughtfully and passionately about the law and the pursuit of justice for all. I am proud to have called him a teacher, a mentor and a friend.”
Students also greatly valued his narrative approach to constitutional law—a subject that has the reputation of being dense, repetitive and dry.
“He had this way of taking case law and bringing it to life,” said Steve Robinson ’11. “Every class was like an episode of ‘Law and Order.’ It didn’t matter if this was a murder that happened in 1886—he had a way of narrating it and bringing it to life with his Sean Connery voice. The entire class would be in a trance and wanted to know what happened next.”
Morgan’s reputation as an outstanding constitutional law professor earned him deep respect and admiration from his colleagues.
“I can remember when I visited campus interviewing, I went out to dinner with him and [Gary M. Pendy Professor of Social Sciences Jean] Yarbrough and enjoyed that conversation greatly—it was one of the highlights of my job interview here,” said Associate Professor of Government Michael Franz, current chair of the department. “To teach his courses the way he did and have students to the very end who admired his approach to teaching—I would love to have anything close to that kind of experience.”
Morgan was also well known at Bowdoin for being one of the few conservatives on a predominantly liberal-minded campus—something he was always aware of in class and in the community.
One of his long-time colleagues in the government department, Professor of Government Paul Franco, remarked that one of the qualities he admired most in Morgan was his ability to balance his own political leanings with a scholarly approach to his studies.
“Shortly after the election of George Bush in 2000—the famous Bush v. Gore contest—he and I and Jean [Yarbrough] were invited to a dinner with students, and...one of them addressed Morgan and said. ‘Professor, what do you think of the Bush v. Gore case?’ And he said, ‘Well, as a Republican, I couldn’t have been more delighted by the decision in Bush v. Gore. But as a constitutional scholar, I say I found the decision highly questionable.’”
An Old-School GentlemanMany of the people who knew Morgan best stressed his unique position on campus, both literally and figuratively. Roosting in his office atop Hubbard Hall, he dressed like the picture of an esteemed college professor, had a well-known love for fine scotch whiskey and exercised a dry wit that so many around him treasured.
“I remember the first time I ever met him,” said Jordan Goldberg ’14, one of many students who grew close to Morgan during his time at the College. “I was waiting outside the honors talks freshman year…and [Morgan] came out first and I had never met him before, and he put his hand on my shoulder and he looked at the offerings of desserts and coffee and said, ‘Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.’”
“I remember the first time that I walked into his ‘man cave’ out in Harpswell,” said Robinson, who occasionally helped Morgan and Yarbrough with tasks at their home. “I was helping him to carry his canoes or something…and after I got done taking care of the canoes, he handed me a $20 bill, and I said, ‘Oh no, I can’t take that,’ and he said, ‘No, you have to do it, otherwise the College will think this is slavery.’”
Morgan also led an active life in the Maine woods. An avid hunter, canoer, fly fisherman and bird watcher, he was never stopped from pursuing his love for the great outdoors.
“His outdoorsmanship is as deep a part of his scholarship in a way,” said Uhlmann. “I don’t know that he was any prouder of what he did intellectually than his work as an outdoorsman and as a Maine Guide.”
Morgan was also known for steering clear of technology like email. Lynne Atkinson ’81, government department coordinator, had the unofficial position of Morgan’s online voice—helping students get in touch with him and pointing them up the spiral staircase to his office.
“When I went to meetings with other coordinators, where we were having training sessions on how to do this or there was some newfangled thing we were going to learn, I was always the one that had to raise my hand and say, ‘But what if you have a faculty member who doesn’t use a computer?’” Atkinson said. “I never really heard anyone else ask that.”
Many described Morgan’s deep love for the College, which he carried with him for all 49 years he spent on this campus. He had been declining in health for the past few years and had begun preparing two final courses to teach before his retirement at the end of the 2015-2016 academic year. After being diagnosed with cancer, Morgan visited one of his former students, President Barry Mills ’72, to discuss his future plans.
“[Morgan] was doing what he liked to do until he wasn’t able to do it anymore,” said Mills. “And when he sat [in my office] five weeks ago, he really thought he could finish the semester and really wanted to plow through the semester with his students despite the fact that he knew he had some therapy to do.”
Morgan brought his constitutional law textbooks to his consultations in Boston, Mass., preparing his lectures as if nothing was wrong. And in his last days, which he spent in a hospital bed, his love for Bowdoin still shone bright.
“I visited [Morgan] at the hospital… within a couple of days of him actually passing away,” said Franco. “He was in his hospital room, and not in great shape... He found it difficult to actually speak very much. I was making conversation, describing how I was very impressed by working on this presidential search committee with the love of Bowdoin that the Bowdoin Trustees have. And I turned to [Morgan] and said, ‘Dick, I think of you as one of these super Polar Bears.’ He was kind of staring and then suddenly, he made a huge growling noise to acknowledge his Polar Bear-ness.”
—Sam Miller and Kate Witteman contributed to this report.
Editor's Note: The article was updated to include a statement from the Mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee '74.
Citing the 1,200 signatures it has collected for a petition that was created in the fall of 2012, Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) says that it has a mandate from the student body to pressure the College to divest from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. The Orient took a closer look at the petition and concluded that BCA has overstated student support for this cause.
Last week, the Orient obtained the physical copies of petitions that BCA presented to President Barry Mills on April 18. BCA declined to share its current petition, which it claims has 1,200 signatories. Instead, BCA offered the Orient a list of the signatories who had also pledged to volunteer for BCA’s divestment campaign.
“Normally, petition signatures are meant for the target, which was the College, the president, and the Board of Trustees,” said Matthew Goodrich ’15, a leader of BCA. “We had concerns about privacy.”
When BCA presented the petition to Mills, it claimed that 1,000 students had indicated their support for divestment. After examining the individual petitions, the Orient determined that 923 total signatures were given to Mills. Among these signatures, there were 60 duplicates, four triplicates, 14 crossed-out names, and 16 illegible names, bringing the total number of valid petition signatories to 825.
In addition to numerical discrepancy between BCA’s claims and the actual number of valid signatures given to Mills, the petition—which BCA publicly presented as one divestment petition—was in fact comprised of two differently-phrased petitions.
The petition used during the beginning of the divestment campaign begins with the bolded declaration, “I Believe Carbon Neutral Means Carbon Free,” and uses the word “divest” only once, at the end of the petition. This petition was signed by 469 out of the 923 signatures.The remaining 454 signatures were attached to a statement which referred exclusively to divestment. It states in bold font: “I believe Bowdoin should divest its endowment from fossil fuels in recognition that climate change is a moral issue.”
Goodrich explained that in the fall of 2012, BCA had discussed the feasibility of the College discontinuing its use of natural gas with Mills and after he made it clear that doing so was not feasible, the language of the petition was altered to focus exclusively on climate change.
The Orient conducted two separate unscientific surveys between October 27-29, sending one to signatories of the “Carbon Free” petition and one to signatories of the “Divest” petition. The same question—“Do you currently support the movement for Bowdoin College to divest from fossil fuels?”—was presented to each of the survey groups.
Out of 160 respondents who signed the “Divest” petition, 42 percent responded “Yes,” 26 percent responded “No,” 29 percent responded “I don’t feel informed enough to make a decision,” and three percent responded “No opinion.”
Out of 72 respondents who signed the “Carbon Free” petition, 36 percent responded “Yes,” 41 percent responded “No,” 22 percent responded “I don’t feel informed enough to make a decision” and one percent responded “No opinion.”
In all, 40 percent of signatories stated that they still supported divestment.
Goodrich said that the messages of the petitions are not contradictory despite their different wording.
“I think that people who signed [the “Carbon Free” petition] are calling for a greater mandate—a greater re-evaluation for Bowdoin’s sustainability,” said Goodrich. “I think that those are both divestment signatures. The wording is different but the actual message of divestment is on both.”
After learning about the the survey data, Goodrich attributed the difference in support between the petitions and the survey to the College’s announcement in April 2013 that divestment could cost the College $100 million over the next 10 years.
Since April, BCA claims to have added an additional 200 signatories to its petition, with most of them coming from first-year students, according to Goodrich. The petition now includes signatures from seven class years—2012 to 2018—although only “a handful” are members of the Class of 2012, according to Allyson Gross ’16, a member of BCA.
“Last year, as well as this year, we’ve had 1,000 students who signed our petition,” said Goodrich last week. “The campus community has spoken. We built that support for divestment.”
Goodrich stood behind the petition this week.
“We’re not speaking for anyone. The people who put their names down have, on their own free will, said they support this…this is what they have said. We’re sort of the mediators because we’re the ones who are most passionate about divestment—we’re the ones who presented to the Trustees.”
BCA member Bridget McCoy ’15 said in an interview last week that while BCA speaks for the majority of students, those most involved with the campaign are likely more informed than the rest of the student body.
“Signing onto divestment means you support it, but I’m sure there’s a variety of what people think, said McCoy. “We really want to promote discourse and discussion—we don’t want to trick people or anything like that.”
BCA, which stated in its slideshow presentation to the Trustees that it has a mandate from Bowdoin students to persuade the College to divest from fossil fuel companies, has repeatedly noted the force its petition carries. Last week, Gross referred to the meeting between the Trustees and members of BCA as a meeting 1,200 students had asked for.
“I think the 1,200 number must have had an influence on [Mills’] view on whether or not we had to meet with the group,” said Chair of the Board of Trustees Deborah Jensen Barker.A meeting between BCA and the Board’s Student Affairs Committee—organized by Mills—took place on October 17.
Though BCA has said that the petition is representative of student support, the Orient found numerous cases of signatories that were not even students, including two visiting teaching assistants from the Department of Romance Languages, several college employees, and a local business owner who sells hand-crafted jewelry in front of the Polar Express in Smith Union.
“I’d like to highlight the passion that the students have brought to this issue—particularly members of BCA—in addition to the folks that came out to gave the petition to President Mills and the folks that came out to show support with the trustees,” said Goodrich in this week’s interview.
Although the counts of the physical signatures and the survey of the signatories raises questions about the number of students who fully support divestment, there is no doubt that a sizeable portion of the Bowdoin faculty think the College should divest from fossil fuels. In the October 17 issue of the Orient, 70 faculty members published a letter urging the Board of Trustees to divest.
“The faculty letter with 70 names—I think that shows how much this issue has grown,” said Goodrich. “We really wanted the faculty to engage with us; we asked and they did. It shows that this is something that doesn’t just concern the students but also involves faculty members...It’s good to know they have our back.”
The letter was shaped out of two separate draft letters, one primarily authored by Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Natural Sciences Nat Wheelwright, Senior Lecturer in Romance Languages Genie Wheelwright, and Associate Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Hadley Horch with assistance from Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies John Lichter. The other draft was primarily written by English Professor David Collings.
“I think it would’ve been a shame to have 1,000 Bowdoin students calling for divestment and then have the faculty sit on the sidelines, despite the fact that we teach it in our classroom—the importance of climate change—and not to take any action,” said Wheelwright, who did not know about the Orient’s examination of the petitions given to Mills.
Originally, Collings opposed divestment because he thought that the movement asked for a largely symbolic commitment without inducing a direct economic or environmental effect. He said that his opinion changed once the faculty letter added language calling for action beyond divestment, including carbon taxes, the end of federal oil subsidies, and a call to lobby the federal government.
“That’s a statement of principle—a statement of value,” said Collings regarding divestment. “We’re aligning [the College’s] financial investments with its values. As an ethical and moral statement, it’s completely coherent. I buy it.”
Lichter agreed, citing two people who influenced his decision: professor of economics emeritus David Vail and environmentalist author Wendell Berry.
“David Vail basically said symbolism is important,” said Lichter. “He argued that that’s important—to get public sentiment moving in the right direction.”
Lichter, who published an op-ed in April that called for alternatives to divestment, noted that while he now supports divestment on ethical and moral grounds, students and community members still need to focus on more influential targets.
“They could basically get an appointment with Angus King or Susan Collins when they’re here—they could do it,” said Lichter. “I think there’s good reasons why good people don’t want to do this.”
Associate Professor of Economics Guillermo Herrera, who did not sign the faculty letter, noted that while he is respectful of how the movement has galvanized student activism, he remains skeptical of the notion that divestment could alter corporate or consumer behavior.
“The problem is that carbon emission and fossil fuel use is underpriced by the market,” said Herrera. “I feel like the right action is one that attempts to make the price correct—to align the price with what it should be socially.”
Herrera suggested an alternative solution in which the College imposes a carbon tax on itself in order to reflect the true social costs of carbon emissions. Holding itself to this tax level—determined by a consensus of economists—could affect both the College’s energy and investment decisions as well as corporate and consumer behavior.
“I feel like the divestment path is maybe a second best path,” said Herrera. “There may be better ways to do it. Those deserve some serious consideration.”
Assistant Professor of Economics Stephen Meardon—who did not sign the faculty letter—said that it was inappropriate for professors to advocate contested political and moral positions as representatives of the College.
“What are the appropriate policies, in light of their distributive consequences, is not a scientific question,” said Meardon. “It’s a political and moral question, and it’s contested, and the College should not be weighing in on that.”
Meardon called into question some of the tenets of the faculty letter, specifically citing the letter’s call for divestment as an “important educational gesture.”
“The college should definitely try to help students acquire knowledge and analytical skills that are relevant to understanding the consequences of fossil fuel consumption on climate,” said Meardon. “‘Educational gesture’ is exactly that kind of conflation of scientific with moral; of an academic purpose with an advocacy purpose. I think that those purposes should be kept separate.”
Meardon asserted that not only would divestment from fossil fuels undermine the College’s purposes as an academic institution, it runs the risk of attracting students and faculty only of “like minds” and deterring those who may have differing opinions.
“The faculty should never stand behind students in their political engagement—not on any political action that is contested,” said Meardon.
Wheelwright said that while more forceful action is needed in order to mitigate the effects of climate change, he heard few credible arguments against divestment when meeting with about 20 faculty members to discuss the proposed letter.
“We saw this as joining a broad, energetic social movement that we haven’t seen practically since the Vietnam War, that has some legs and the potential to change the national conversation,” said Wheelwright. “If educational institutions don’t get out in front of this issue, 40 years from now, populations will be half as big as they are today.”
—Ron Cervantes, Natalie Kass-Kaufman and Kate Witteman contributed to this report.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article miscontrued a statement made by Associate Professor of Economics Stephen Meardon. The article said that he found it inappropriate for faculty members to engage in political and moral questions, when he meant that it was inappropriate for faculty members to advocate contested poltical and moral positions as representatives of the College. The article has been updated to correct this error.
The Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin—formerly called the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship (BCF), which is no longer officially recognized by the College—recently celebrated the opening of the Joseph and Alice McKeen Christian Study Center at 65 Harpswell Road. The center is off campus but located near Farley Field House, and will serve as the venue for the fellowship to conduct bible studies, engage in weekly group discussions, and host guest speakers.
The space is named after Joseph and Alice McKeen—Bowdoin’s first president and his wife. According to Rob Gregory, one of the volunteer leaders of the group, McKeen worked to spread the gospel to Bowdoin students, and the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin aims to follow in his footsteps.
An open house was held at the center on September 27 and featured Owen Strachan ’03 as a keynote speaker. Other alumni of the fellowship travelled to Brunswick to attend the event.
The Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin acquired the oﬀ-campus property because it is no longer an oﬃcially recognized group at the College and therefore does not have the ability to book regular meetings in on-campus spaces. The fellowship had previously used the Chapel, Daggett Lounge, and 30 College Street for bible studies and other gatherings.
Bob Ives, director of religious and spiritual life, said that even though the fellowship is not an organized religious group at Bowdoin, it can still meet on campus—the spaces are just more diﬃcult to reserve because College-aﬃliated groups receive preference. Ives said that he has oﬀered 30 College Street for the group’s use and would like the fellowship to continue to contribute to spiritual life at the College.
At the end of last year, the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin chose not to recharter with Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), following a series of events that began in the spring. In February, the fellowship’s advisors—Rob and Sim Gregory—refused to sign the College’s Volunteer Agreement. The agreement contained a non-discrimination policy that they felt they could not sign due to religious convictions, specifically the Christian gospel’s interpretation of homosexuality.
After the Gregorys, who had been heavily involved with BCF for almost a decade, declined to sign the agreement, the fellowship was given two options—it could either recharter as a College-recognized organization and select new advisors who complied with the Volunteer Agreement or choose not to recharter and keep the Gregorys as advisors. Last year’s BSG Student Organization Oversight Committee (SOOC) chair Danny Mejia-Cruz ’16 and the Oﬃce of Student Activities worked with students in the fellowship to find a new advisor if they were interested in re-chartering, but the group decided it would rather keep the Gregorys as advisors. Harriet Fisher ’17, this year’s SOOC chair, said she has not received any interest from the fellowship in rechartering the group this year.
The new house
The house on Harpswell Road was purchased on April 14, 2014 for $250,000. Gregory declined to comment on where the finances to purchase the property came from, but it is listed along with the name Kirk DiVietro in Brunswick Real Estate tax documents. It is unclear whether DiVietro has a connection to the Gregorys or to the College. When the Gregorys acquired the building—a colonial-style house built in 1900—it needed “considerable repairs,” said Gregory. Ryan Ward ’17, one of the leaders of the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin, said that he believed at one point the building had been condemned.
With the help of other volunteers, the Gregorys worked many hours over the summer to restore the building so that it could be used by the fellowship at the beginning of the academic year. They also hired contractors to do some more extensive repairs.
“We put the time and effort and resources into making sure that it was fit for the purpose for which it had been set apart,” said Gregory. “And that was to do this kind of work for students who want to learn about the scriptures and study the scriptures on a location near the Bowdoin campus.”
The Christian Study Center consists of two units—the main house in the front and an apartment unit in the back. Altogether the center has five rooms, with an estimated housing capacity of five people. Ward said that although the fellowship is just using the space for bible studies, discussion groups, and speaker events right now, he eventually hopes residents will live in the house.
“Whether it’s a young couple who’s staying there to kind of see if things are working for students, or [students themselves], that’s the plan for the future,” said Ward.
Club chartering at Bowdoin
Although the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin is no longer oﬃcially recognized by the College, its role in the Bowdoin community has remained fairly consistent with previous years.
“We still meet for bible studies; we still have other gatherings on Thursday nights,” said Ward. “We pretty much have done what we’ve always been doing, we’ve just shifed it over to this new space.”
“I don’t want to make it look like we’re separating ourselves from the campus because we’re definitely not,” he added. “But we also don’t want to entangle ourselves too much in the operation of the College.”
Some of the group’s responsibilities have changed, though. In the past, BCF selected speakers and organized programs in the College’s chapel, according to Ward. Now, Ives and the Oﬃce of Religious and Spiritual Life is responsible for running the chapel.
Ives hopes to keep the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin active in campus religious life.
“Even though they’re not a formal, organized group through BSG, they are a religious group so I invite them to the [Bowdoin] Interfaith Council,” said Ives. “I certainly want to make sure that they are acknowledged.”
The Interfaith Council is made up of the eight religious groups on Bowdoin’s campus. Its first meeting of the year will take place on October 22. Ives has not received a response from the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin about whether they will participate this year and Ward and Gregory both declined to comment on the group’s plans.
“It’s still in discussion,” said Ward.
New group part of a consortium The Joseph and Alice McKeen Christian Study Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit that operates on grants, membership fees and donations, according to its website.
The fellowship is still connected to the national InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group, but with the acquisition of the physical Christian Study Center, it has also become a member of the Consortium of Christian Studies Centers. This consortium is independent from Inter-Varsity. Altogether, the consortium consists of over 15 established study centers throughout the country.
Many of the centers in the consortium are located in college towns and serve the students of the nearby colleges and universities in an unoﬃcial way.
For instance, the Erasmus Institute at the Five Colleges in Amherst, Mass. is an established center in the Consortium of Christian Studies Centers that is unoﬃcially tied to Amherst. Other established centers in the consortium include the Chesterton House, a Christian studies center at Cornell, and the Rivendell Institute at Yale.
Ives noted that Christian study centers are becoming increasingly popular around colleges and universities across the nation.
“Some of the leaders of InterVarsity have shared that they really don’t like to do this because they want to be on the college campuses—that’s their tradition,” he said.“But this is with a lot of changing mores and morality of different college campuses and their very vigorous feeling of faith about preserving the nature of marriage from their particular perspective.”
Despite the changes the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin has undergone in the past nine months, the group seems to be happy with how things are going now.
“The changed venue really isn’t an issue for gospel work—it never has been,” said Gregory. “The work of Christian ministry isn’t dependent on one place, and while we enjoyed the seven or eight years we had to preach the gospel in the chapel on Bowdoin's campus, we’ll preach the same message wherever we have an opportunity to do it.”
“We’re really grateful that we’re able to continue to do the InterVarsity work in a place that’s convenient to the students,” he added. “That was important to them and it’s important to us.”
Ward expressed similar feelings of gratitude and a certainty that relations with the College will be nothing but cordial in the future.
“So far I’m very pleased with how things have gone,” he said. “We don’t feel as though we’ve been pushed against our will to do this. This has been something that we think, from our perspective, is God’s will, and for the better in bringing the gospel which is essentially what our mission is and what we hope to do more of as we figure out how we’re going to use this space.”
This fall Bowdoin is offering a landscape painting course, in which students will have the opportunity to work in the open air at various locations. One of just a few courses at Bowdoin that takes students outdoors, it is taught by professional landscape painter James Mullen. The fall course is offered every two to three years.
“The weather in Maine is never more beautiful than in September and early October,” said Mullen.
Although there are other visual arts classes that spend time outside, Landscape Painting focuses specifically on the unique setting of autumn in Maine.
In fact, that was the main reason Mariah Reading ’16 took the course.
“I’ve grown up in Maine my whole life and fall is my favorite season,” she said. “I thought, ‘how cool would it be to go outside and paint.’ It sounded like a dream.”
Tess Hamilton ’16, an Earth and Oceanographic Science major, is also looking forward to the course.
“Being able to communicate [the outdoors during this time] through a different form is really cool for me,” she said.
A visual arts background and the Painting I class were prerequisites for the course.
Mullen says that students will be going outside for the first few weeks. After that they have the option to continue to paint outside or move their work inside. If they move inside, they will have the opportunity to work from photographs they take, images from their imagination or smaller landscape pieces they will create in the first few weeks.
“We’ll talk about a range of things and my hope is that everybody has got that thing that they respond to,” he said.
Mullen hopes to have each student complete six projects during the semester. The first project was to take a famous piece of landscape art and recreate it themselves. These pieces can be seen on the walls of the Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center for Art and Dance.
Next week they will be going to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art to view famous works of landscape art as inspiration.
Another project will have students heading to Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center on Orr’s Island. Students will be hiking the trails and creating landscape paintings from what they view.Hamilton expressed her excitement about the “nuances that you wouldn't think of” when working outdoors.
All of the students’ landscapes will be on display during the open house in the Edwards Center at the end of the semester.
The committee searching for President Barry Mills’ successor shared the job description it is providing to applicants and issued a call for nominations in an email sent to members of the Bowdoin community last Friday. Over the summer, the committee hired the firm Isaacson, Miller to assist with the search and conducted information-gathering forums with students, faculty and staff, according to the email.
Isaacson, Miller is an executive recruitment firm that recently consulted for Amherst’s and Williams’ presidential searches.
The job description was written by the recruitment firm and the search committee—which consists of 10 trustees, three faculty members, two students, two staff members and a member of the Alumni Council—and was reviewed by the Board of Trustees.
The document begins with the writings of two former presidents of the College, William DeWitt Hyde’s “Offer of the College” and the portion of Joseph McKeen’s inaugural address that highlights the importance of serving the common good.
The rest of the document consists of a description of the College and a list of the challenges the next president will face.
“I think it is a document that tries to present the College first and foremost to potential candidates for the college presidency, but also to frame the discussion about the College’s aspirations and what objective the next president might lead the College towards,” said Jes Staley ’79, the trustee who is serving as chair of the Presidential Search Committee, in a phone interview with the Orient.
The job description refers to Bowdoin’s upward trajectory five times, with the introductory section stating, “The College seeks a new president who can extend Bowdoin’s trajectory.”Staley said that based on conversations he has had with members of the committee and other members of the Bowdoin community, there is a shared belief that the College is in a good place.
“This is not a college that is in need of a major change because the school is in such terrific shape—the quality of the faculty, the quality of the students, the quality of the residential life, the support of the alumni—as the document underscores, people just want to make sure that we find the best possible candidate to continue what is a pretty extraordinary place,” he said.
The section of the job description titled “Qualifications and Experience” mentions the ability to lead a conversation about the curriculum, an understanding of college governance, and experience working with both faculty and board of trustees. Staley said that those preferred qualifications are not an indication that the committee is only considering applicants working in academia.
“We haven’t set out criteria that limit the range of candidates that the committee can look at,” he said. “Clearly there’s an appreciation by the committee of the value of finding an individual with a deep understanding of academic life and an appreciation for liberal arts education.”
The committee also laid out its expectation that the next president will be able to “engage effectively with the many constituencies of the college, skillfully negotiating different points of view” and “articulate the value of a liberal arts education in the twenty-first century.”
During an interview with the Orient last semester, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies Tess Chakkalakal, a member of the search committee, said that the second of these abilities is particularly important to her.
“What I’m looking for is someone who really has not just a commitment to the liberal arts in general, but someone who really is on the front line in the current debates regarding our college’s role in training young people to become active citizens and productive in the world,” she said.
The job description praises Mills’ administration for raising funds dedicated to financial aid and diversifying the faculty and student body, and calls on the next president to continue expanding access to the College.
“The new president should extend Bowdoin’s efforts to remain affordable to first-generation and middle-class families, continue efforts to diversify the faculty and staff, and address the academic and social needs of the student population to ensure that every Bowdoin student feels included in the campus culture and is positioned to thrive,” it reads.
Staley said that the committee would keep the College’s commitment to diversity in mind throughout the search process.
“The composition of the search committee tried to reflect the diversity of the Bowdoin community overall,” said Staley. “There’s a deep commitment by the College to embrace diversity, and I think that embracing diversity extends to how the search committee is going to handle its search.”
Staley said that in order to attract the most talented applicants, the committee has to keep the names of candidates confidential. Applicants do not want to risk losing their current jobs by demonstrating a public interest in becoming Bowdoin’s next president.
Withholding the names of candidates is common practice during a college’s presidential search, according to Staley.
The committee has already received nominations and will continue to receive them in the coming weeks.
“We have reviewed a very long list of potential candidates and we are going to be reaching out to dozens and dozens,” said Staley. “These are people that we’re going to be approaching, people that have been recommended to us, and people that have approached us. It is a long list and I’m sure it will be an even longer list as the fall moves forward.”