Finding the spirit of Seattle amidst gentrification
Since receiving his honorary degree in 2013, many Bowdoin students have ogled over Patrick Dempsey. But perhaps now is the time to reflect on the people from McDreamy’s non-Bowdoin home.
Claire McCarthy ’18 and Philip Kiefer ’18 both grew up in Seattle and described their childhoods in the rainy, green city as very typical.
“When I was a young child, I had the quintessential childhood: awesome, huge backyard, dog and cats. And we would play in the streets. It was the classic childhood,” McCarthy said. “But once I was a teenager, I had access to the more urban lifestyle and experiences. All my friends lived in the city. So I kind of moved away from the suburban lifestyle. It was like the things I had the option to do expanded and I got to choose and in a way I got to live both a suburban and an urban lifestyle.”
The influence of the urban lifestyle on Seattle as a whole seems to be transforming the city, especially with the influx of tech companies.
“The tech industry has brought a very different group of people into Seattle, a lot of millennials, a lot of people starting their careers in tech. It’s brought a lot of diversity into Seattle, and also, a lot of wealth,” said McCarthy. “The tech startups have been huge especially for people who have grown up in Seattle and lived there their whole life so they want to come back and live there as adults.”
Kiefer also felt the ways in which the tech boom on the West Coast was painting his home in a certain way.
“I went to school with a ton of kids of Microsoft execs and Amazon people. I think it’s really interesting to read about the role of technology in the world and then see who it actually is creating that stuff and Seattle is experiencing incredible growth because of the growth of Amazon,” he said. “It’s kind of like seeing that human side to the Silicon Valley, seeing that the internet isn’t this abstract thing. It’s this thing built by the people largely in Seattle and Silicon Valley and Boston, to a certain extent.”
Kiefer, too, began to see the growing effects of the tech industry on his life and not all of them were positive.
“But, honestly, that isn’t doing great things for the city. The way the city has gentrified in the last five to 10 years because of the explosive growth of the tech industry has driven out a lot of that diversity that I think sets the West apart,” he said.
The gentrification can also be seen by the ways the tech industry has affected the socio-economic diversity of the city as well.
“A lot of people are saying that this booming tech industry that we have in Seattle is kind of pushing out the middle class a little bit. And a lot of the neighborhoods in Seattle that historically may not have been the greatest neighborhoods are now located in central locations in relation to the tech companies,” said McCarthy. “So we’re seeing a lot more wealth move through those areas and like for the community as a whole, it’s been a great boost to the local economy and small businesses. But at the same time some of these communities are losing a lot of their culture.”
Yet, McCarthy sees the city actively working to change and to maintain a semblance of the same city.
“I think it’s important to have Seattle maybe look at Silicon Valley, maybe see what they did wrong. Yes, they have amazing economic opportunities there and an amazing tech boom there but it’s almost entirely reserved for white males between the ages of 25 and 35. I think that the leaders in Seattle are looking at that really closely and making sure Seattle doesn’t turn into that,” said McCarthy.
In fact, with the influx of new wealth being poured into the Seattle economy and the growing job opportunities in the city, McCarthy sees the new industry as a positive influence on Seattle.“I think a lot of people look at what’s happening in Seattle right now and say it’s the tech companies, but the tech companies are actually providing a lot of opportunity across the board,” said McCarthy.
Both Kiefer and McCarthy, throughout the changes still see the city they love for all its central characteristics that so innately shape it.
“Seattle is a fairly green city. Pretty much anywhere you turn there’s like a giant lake or the ocean. Just geographically nature is definitely a contributing factor to life there,” Kiefer said. “You can get up in the winter and everything will smell salty and it’s kind of misty and you can look out onto the ocean and it’s just lightly covered in fog. And that’s kind of a physical feeling that I miss. But it’s more just the experience of being in that place.”
Finding a love for music: Levine ’17 recounts his life overseas
If the NESCAC snapchat story is in any way indicative of the Bowdoin experience, acapella and acoustic jam sessions are the heart of our experience here. We have the equivalent of musical celebrities in people like Leo Levine, a member of the Meddies and the band, Gotta Focus.
Leo’s love of music, though, comes from a long journey in finding himself in different places throughout his life. He was born and raised in Vienna, Austria and lived there for 13 years. In 2009 he moved to London and lived there for four years. Two years ago moved to the United States.
In Vienna, Leo was able to grow up and have his childhood in a place both beautiful and welcoming in its charm reminiscent of a small town.
“Whenever I go back, I consider Vienna more homey and I feel more at home because I’ve been shaped by Vienna. The first 13 years of my life were just in this very comfortable environment. Everything is so well-organized and yet laid back,” he said.
“I think it’s also shaped me as I am,” he continued. “Because it’s not like the typical urban lifestyle even though it’s a relatively big city. Whenever I go back, I’m just happy to be there because it’s just also so different from Bowdoin and London.”
But many people have preconceptions of his life and Austria that Leo doesn’t think are indicative of his childhood.
“Whenever you think of Austria, you think of, I don’t know, lederhosen and The Sound of Music and all that. But I don’t really associate with that. And, honestly, I don’t think I’ve adopted any one culture in particular. I’d say I’m just a hybrid of Europe and a little bit of America,” he said.
However, for Leo, location was not all that affected him. He explained that he was even more greatly shaped by the influence of his Russian parents.
“When I was in Vienna, it wasn’t Vienna who shaped who I am. It was my parents. Because I spent so much time with my parents,” he says. “My parents are both Russian, so the first language that I learned was Russian. I don’t really associate with the Russian culture, but I am still proud to say that my parents are Russian.”
Leo moved to London in March 2009.
“March and April are usually very rainy, so that was my first impression of living in London and that just basically imprinted on me,” he said. “I would say I’d just accepted my fate. I was like, ‘guess I have to get used to this now.’ It’s objectively depressing, but I’ve learned how to embrace it.”
As he was starting in on his teenage years and living in a completely new place, London became the gray backdrop of a different person in Leo.
“London is a good place to spend your teenage years because that’s when all the angst comes out. London is one of the best spots to let your angst out. My friend group in high school were all really angsty teenagers. The urban environment really accompanies that angst well because it’s always gray and everyone smokes cigarettes. Everything is charmingly depressing,” he said.But an age of angst was not all that was born in Leo as he moved to London. He also discovered the music that shapes him to this day.
“When I moved to London, I was a very naive boy who was just so sweet and innocent. I was still missing Vienna very much and I stopped talking to my friends in Vienna very gradually and I had trouble making friends in London. And I had built up all this angst and I had no idea who I was, why I was there. I was just going to classes every day. And the weather didn’t help either. London weather isn’t a myth. Then, at the end of ninth grade, I discover the Rolling Stones, I discover everyone who I just worship now. That turned this sadness to this slight angst,” he said.
A life ingrained in music began to shape his entire identity in London as he feels it still does today.
“I learned how to play the guitar, drums, bass and I found myself in the role of the school’s musician. And I had finally found my place. Really what changed was discovering music. It just very much transformed me.”
Two years ago, Leo moved again, in a way, when he came to school in the United States at Bowdoin. “But now I’m starting to adapt to the American kind of lifestyle. Before freshman year, I did not understand American humor at all. I don’t even really know how to define it, but like these little sarcastic jokes, I never got them.”
Leo feels that he himself is a mix of all of the places where he’s lived and the different cultures. “It’s just now two years after I’ve gotten here that I really start to understand American culture. Yet again, I’m mostly proud of being British. But, I would say that my Russian upbringing has shaped me the most,” he said.
He appreciates the mix of cultures in the U.S.
“There is no one culture. That’s what I really like about America. What I can relate to here, is that America is a very new country and it’s a mix of everything, every race, every culture who came here hundreds, dozens of years ago, whatever,” he said.
But for Leo, the places of his past are still his home and still what shape the person he is today. Though the future is still far on his horizon, he seems to know where home is for him. “I have no idea where I’ll end up, preferably Europe because I feel at home there. It’s so different in America. It took me a long time to get used to it. It just makes me very happy whenever we’re on breaks and I get to go home. Pretty much anywhere in Europe, I feel at home.”
Searching for home: Tonckens finds community on campus
Four years. Nearly all of us have four years to construct a major, an identity and a home in this little academic bubble in the middle of Brunswick, Maine. Nick Tonckens ’16 is master of sessions in the Peucinian Society (the person who organizes the debates). He is also the editor in chief of the Globalist, a position very grounded in his life experience in different countries. Furthermore, Nick is a self-proclaimed policy dork (“Frankly, I’m a nerd and I love big picture policy issues and I always have,” he said). But in all of these activities, Nick has, over his four years here, created an identity and a place for himself in the Bowdoin community.
For people who have grown up in one place, four years is a short period of time to create a sense of belonging and an entire community to always have. Nick never had any sort of standardized or consistent definition of home and therefore never had too strong of an attachment to one place.
“People always ask, ‘Oh, where are you from?’ It’s a standard get-to-know-you question. So I have this set of rote answers; I’m from Maine but also kind of from France,” Nick said. The long answer is that I was born in France, lived in England, then Connecticut and now sort of Maine, sort of France. But, I’m also a Dutch-American dual citizen. Those are the facts of it.”
Going to college, in a way, acts like changing the place of home. The entirety of your life, short of family and high school friends, are in a completely different place. No matter the distance, the distinction between the childhood home and the college home and any future hopes or aspirations towards a different place tend to muddle any clear cut definition of home.
“Home is where family and social life and your personal investments all align. I don’t see that ever happening in one place. Home is where your friends, your social connections and your personal destiny all intertwine,” Nick said.
“I don’t think that there will ever be one place that accomplishes all three of those things for me. Just because I hope to have a career that takes me to all sorts of different places. And I’ll have friends scattered across all sorts of places, as I always have.”
So what is life like in a world where we have more than one place we could call home?Nick has experienced that since he has lived not only in different places, but different countries. One time in particular is when he moved to America as a kid.
“I didn’t feel American for a long time. It took me a long time to really accept the fact that I’ve been primarily shaped by this country,” Nick said.
“I felt fundamentally like I did not have roots in this place. But I also couldn’t say that I was English. I wasn’t really Dutch either. I wasn’t French. It made me feel a little bit like I had been robbed. I had roots. They were all just shallow.”
Is that the road each Bowdoin student is heading on? Or each person that moves away for college and then into their adult life? In a world that is increasingly small with the easy use of transportation and global communication, are we all set on a track of shallower and shallower roots?
For Nick, at least, that may be the case. “It’s doubtful that I would stay in one city for the rest of my life. I just simply don’t see that happening. I have led a life that is too open to ever see myself being comfortable just living in one place. I would go absolutely nuts.”
“I think more of the population in the 21st century is going to be like me, people with shallow roots. I think traditional ways of life and identifying to your community are going to be gradually stripped away.”
Yet in the wake of Homecoming Weekend, is there still a sense of attachment after we finally move the tassel across our graduation caps? So many graduates came back this year, be it people from the Class of 2015 or people from the Class of 1959. Perhaps Bowdoin, in its tiny, close-knit hamlet, has done the impossible in the age of transience and created a community with a sense of home that has a little more permanence.
“When everyone’s at Bowdoin and has been there from their first year all the way through, everyone has an equal claim to being from Bowdoin to a certain extent, in that we all have an equal stake in this place,” said Nick.
“No one is more Bowdoin than anyone else. There’s kind of an equality there that I really love. Because we’re all at Bowdoin and we’re all equally from Bowdoin and that’s really affirming to me.”
Beyond the postcard
There is more to Bar Harbor than the crowds of summer
Nestled on the coast of Maine and located conveniently close to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine is one of the ultimate tourist destinations in the state. Bar Harbor is not just a tourist attraction, though. It is a home to its residents who don’t come and go with the seasons. This home is drastically different than the picture on a postcard or the ideal of summer vacationers, particularly to its residents.
“It’s like day and night. The Bar Harbor that most people think of is the Bar Harbor from May through October, at best. All the stores are open, and tons of restaurants. Streets are really crowded. In the winter it’s just really dark and pretty much everything is closed,” said Olivia Erickson ’18, who grew up in Bar Harbor, Maine. “The restaurants do this thing where they rotate who’s open. There’ll be one or two restaurants open at a time. That’s just so that they all can get business through the winter. For the most part it’s really, really quiet in the winter.”
Growing up in a place so shaped by the people who happened to visit it, Olivia became keenly aware of the attitudes of the tourists.
“I think that all [tourists] think that we speak with the Downeast accent. That we say ‘Bah Habah’ which is not true. So I guess they have more of a stereotypical ‘Downeast Mainer’ view of what it’s like but Bar Harbor has more to offer than that,” Olivia said.
“You start really resenting tourists because they start to assume that your entire existence is geared towards them having this great experience. And that is a lot of people’s jobs.”
The way that temporary visitors can shape a place like Bar Harbor and deeply affect its citizens is similar to the way Bowdoin influences Brunswick. Though we are only visitors, we change the dynamic of the town and while sometimes for the better, that isn’t always the case.
We may be the people involved in positively shaping the community through the McKeen Center but we’re also the people who Randy Nichols has to remind to be considerate of our neighbors as we traipse across Brunswick late at night. The important thing for us along with any people making a temporary place for themselves is to use that time to have a positive influence.
“Bowdoin has so many people from so many different places that it’s almost like it’s out of place. You know, we talk about connection to place so that’s a very contradictory thing to say. But the backgrounds they bring to the College are very different than the backgrounds in Maine because people are from so many places,” Olivia said.
The assumptions we make about any place are never representative of the people who make it up.
“Most people think of very rural back country people as Mainers, but there’s also a lot of other things in Maine," said Olivia. “You have Portland, a lot of people live there. Someone from Portland is very different than someone from Caribou. Living on the coast versus living inland is very different. It’s such a broad array of experiences.”
The beauty of Bowdoin and its place in the Brunswick community is that it allows for the melding of these vastly different experiences and worldviews. This place allows for the students and the community to learn from and grow with each other.
“I think Bowdoin is a really special place. I think going here is making me even prouder to be from Maine because a place this great is in Maine.”
Progress from the past: thinking about Birmingham stereotypes
Not a lot of people give much thought to Birmingham, Alabama. It’s not one of the capitals we had to memorize in fifth grade. It doesn’t make headlines that often and when it does, usually it merits a segment on some Comedy Central show. But Birmingham, like any other city in the world, is home to a fairly substantial number of people, including me.
Coming to Bowdoin College from Birmingham, Alabama, I can guess fairly easily what people do know about my hometown. I’ve started to expect people’s eyes to glaze over as they picture fire hoses and George Wallace blocking the steps of the University of Alabama. I know exactly why people immediately feel uncomfortable or hesitant when I mention the place where I grew up. But Birmingham, Alabama has come a long way since the 1960s and a great number of the population is trying to eradicate the backwards thinking of our past.
I wish I could say people are entirely wrong when they think that the people of my hometown drive big pickup trucks to hunting camps or to tailgate at Alabama football games. I wish I could say that those southerners and others don’t still carry othering beliefs. If I am to be factually correct, those stereotypical southerners do exist. But Birmingham and its population as a whole are so much more than the stereotype.
Victoria Phillips ’19, who yields from Dunnavant Valley just outside of Birmingham (JOB), says, “There are the cultured people who you can find in downtown Birmingham listening to Birmingham Mountain Radio and NPR. They are well-rounded individuals. They’re very accepting and usually they are very young.”
That young, cultured population very much represents where Birmingham is going. The city itself is fostering the growth of an alternative to the southern brand of conservative prep. These are the people with Bernie Sanders stickers on their cars, who want to usher an influx of new ideas into our community.
These same people encourage a culture in Birmingham beyond football or hunting or any other Southern stereotype. In fact, Birmingham is home to a rapidly growing music culture that fosters a thriving environment for local bands and a widespread appreciation for alternative and Americana music that’s become fairly commonplace in the south.
However, those aren’t the only type of people of Birmingham, just as the stereotype isn’t our entirety either. Part of the beauty of Birmingham is the mixing of the traditions and culture of the south with new beliefs and ideas.
“You can find the people like my group of friends who are very mish-mashed together, very different ideas and opinions, but a lot of erosion of thought,” said Victoria. “There isn’t that one stigma, ‘This is the way to be in Alabama, this is the way things aren’t’. There’s a lot of different kinds of people.”
This mix of cultures is exemplified by the cuisine of our city. A new foodie culture has grown out of a farm-to-table cooking movement in our agriculturally rich state. The local food movement of this young population has mixed with a tradition of good ol’ southern-style cooking in a way that truly exemplifies how well new ideas can find a home in Birmingham.
In my time here, I’ve found that Birmingham can be a lot like Bowdoin. Both Birmingham and Bowdoin represent a mix of all of the best qualities of the past and the future. Growing up in the south is just like growing up anywhere in that there are pieces of your world that are foreign to any other place. But those differences, whether they are part of the benefits or the drawbacks of the place, are why each corner of the earth has its own identity.
With every problem my hometown faces, there are also triumphs. There is nothing more powerful than to be able to see the good and the bad in a place and a population—it truly indicates the way that every place and person work, with their own individual makeup and their own winding, puzzling path.
Each person’s hometown and each individual’s life experience shape the place in which they live as much as those places are shaping them. Hopefully in this column, as I meet with people from a myriad of places, I can begin to understand each place’s and person’s individual identity and how they affect and are affected by place.
Victoria said of our hometown, “I feel really proud of the way I grew up. But, I think that you as an individual have to make the decision: ‘Am I going to think like everyone else or am I going to have my own identity even if it’s not with the mass culture?’”
Julia Geaumont breaks single-season record with 15th win
Pitcher Julia Geaumont ’16 set a new Bowdoin softball single-season record for wins on Wednesday when she led the Polar Bears to a 2-1 win in the first game of a doubleheader against St. Joseph’s College. The Polar Bears won the second game 8-0, and took four of the six games it played last weekend. The team’s record now stands at 23-11 overall and 8-4 in the NESCAC, good enough for second in the conference’s eastern division.
The softball team started out its weekend with a Friday night home win against Colby (10-15 overall, 4-5 NESCAC). Marisa O’Toole ’17 gave Bowdoin an early lead with a solo home run in the first inning, but Colby tied up the score by the third. In the fifth inning captain Adriane Krul ’15 put ahead 2-1 with another solo home run. Colby had no answer in the closing innings and Krul’s home run was the decisive factor in a Polar Bear victory on the team’s Senior Night.
On Saturday, the Polar Bears played two more games against Colby, this time on Colby’s home field in Waterville. The first of the two games was a 1-0 loss for Bowdoin, with Colby first-year Skylar Labbe scoring the only run of the game.
In the second game of the day, Bowdoin won 3-0. Senior captain Cielle Collins scored in the first inning to give the Polar Bears an early lead. Krul trotted home on a Collins’ double in the fourth inning, and first year Claire McCarthy scored from first on a Lauren O’Shea ’18 double one inning later.
On Sunday, the team played a game against an undefeated Tufts team (30-0 overall, 9-0 NESCAC) that had been rescheduled from April 10, and a double-header against the University of Maine-Farmington.
Bowdoin lost 5-4 to Tufts in its first game of the day. Tufts opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the third inning. Bowdoin responded in the bottom half with four runs, but the Jumbos tied the game in the fifth with help from a throwing error. In the sixth inning, Tufts scored the go-ahead run, the final run of the game.
On Sunday in the first of the team’s two wins against the University of Maine-Farmington, Krul’s second inning, three-run homer gave the Polar Bears a lead they would not relinquish. In the third inning they scored two more runs, followed by a seven-run explosion in the fourth to secure the 13-1 victory.
In the final game of the weekend, Bowdoin cruised to a 10-0 win against a Farmington team that committed five errors. In the first inning Bowdoin scored four runs, two coming on an O’Shea triple. The Polar Bears scored three times in both the third and fourth innings, ensuring their 10-0 victory to end the weekend.
In the first game against St. Joseph’s on Wednesday, Geaumont pitched a complete game with St. Joseph’s only run coming after a Bowdoin error extended the sixth inning. In the second game Bowdoin’s offense came alive early, scoring three, one, two and two runs in the first four innings, respectively, en route to an 8-0 win.
The Polar Bears have another doubleheader today at Brandeis University, with games at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Bowdoin opens campus to local high schoolers
On Friday, April 10, the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good hosted Aspirations in Maine Day, a biannual tradition on campus. The event brings in high schoolers and teachers from around Maine to meet with students and professors and tour the College.
The day featured a variety of events for the visitors, starting with talks about getting ready for college and the admissions process.
“We don’t expect them to come and know what the Common Application is or the [Federal Application for Federal Student Aid] is, but we want to give them the background tools so that they can think about it through their high school years,” said event organizer Abby Roy ’16.
In addition to Roy, Assistant Director of the McKeen Center Nhi Nguyen was also central to the organizing process and made sure everything went smoothly.
The visitors chose from a list of interests and went on a scavenger hunt around campus related to their choices. Bowdoin students acted as tour guides and scavenger hunt leaders.
“It’s basically like a fun tour, an interesting tour, to have them get involved,” said Victor Leos ’16, one of the guides. “Because if it’s a regular tour you just mindlessly zombie-follow this one tour guide who’s giving you this cliché like, ‘This is the tower. It used to be the second tallest building in Maine.’ I’ve been on a Bowdoin tour and they’re okay. So this is an interesting way—especially for high schoolers”.
Volunteers also took the opportunity to share other extracurricular opportunities available in college. Later in the day, the visitors attended group discussions including a professor and a number of current college students from Maine who were able to answer general questions about college.
Bowdoin students also played a dominant role in the day as volunteers. Maddie Bustamante ’17 described her motivations for involvement in the computer science section of the scavenger hunt.
“I am a firm believer in computer science and I think that everyone needs it,” she said. “I think this is a good way to show them that it’s really hands on and that there’s so much you can do with it.”
One major discussion throughout the day was centered around financial aid. According to Roy, one of the McKeen Center’s goals for the day was to “try to explain that the price of college is different from the sticker price, and that there are not only grants from the schools that you can go to, but there are also tons of local scholarships that you can apply for.”
“It’s really changed my opinion—like the financial aid and the classes and the workload,” ninth-grader Maya Gerry said. “It’s really inspired me to change my time management and get on track so I can be prepared for college.”
The day concluded with a graduation ceremony for the visitors, who received certificates for their participation in the day. According to Roy, the certificates are meant to be “something for them to take home, show their parents and maybe start a conversation with their parents about the day and about college.”
“We’re trying to sell the idea of college and show them that even though they might be bored in high school or they may not think that they want to go to college, to encourage them to try to explore college differently and show them different things that they can do in college, and also kind of just kickstart their thinking,” said Roy.
Mt. Ararat High School teacher Bree Candland ’01 said that the event successfully exposed the visiting students to new possibilities.
“I think that probably the most useful thing was this panel discussion they have with some of the students from Maine because it sort of helps to say, ‘OK, so Bowdoin is a possibility,’” she said. “You know that they can go to college.”
BSG debates runoff voting system for future elections
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) debated an amendment to the bylaws proposed by Wylie Mao ’18 to begin using an instant runoff voting system for future Bowdoin student elections during Wednesday’s meeting. BSG also heard speeches for a special election being held to elect a new vice president of facilities and sustainability, a position recently vacated by Bridgett McCoy ’15.
The new runoff voting system would allow students to choose a first, second and third choice candidate when voting. If a majority was not reached for one candidate, the bylaws would allow for an immediate runoff between the top candidates.
“It’s in the interest of making our elections more fair and to allow better representation to what each constituency wants,” said Mao. “This is a system that is adopted widely by a lot of our peer schools.”
However, many of the representatives voiced concerns over how this amendment would affect first-year voters or voters not familiar with all of the candidates running for office. They feared that runoff voting would lead to candidates being ranked in alphabetical order or in other superficial ways.
The debate, however, was inconclusive and a vote on the matter will occur at a later meeting.BSG elected Kyle Wolstencroft ’15 to replace McCoy in an internal election last night. He and the other candidate, At-Large Representative David Levine ’16 , had the opportunity to pitch themselves at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I believe that I have the experience necessary to take over the position with so little time left in the year and this is because I was actually [vice president for facilities and sustainability] last year,” said Levine. “I have also already established relationships with the staff and administrators throughout the College.”
While Wolstencroft was unable to attend the meeting, his speech was read on his behalf.
“As a member of the Facilities and Sustainability Committee this year, I believe I’ve added significant value,” his speech read. “I took the lead on main projects.”
BSG also suspended its two-week rule—which requires BSG to wait two weeks after a bill is proposed to vote on it—to vote on two events sponsored by the Good Ideas Fund.
The first event, which BSG voted to pass, is a Mainers mini-series—with whoopie pies—in which students will be allowed to have discussions with Maine state legislator Drew Gattine. The event will take place on February 28.
The second event, which also passed, will be a screening of “Boyhood” with brunch provided in Adams Hall at 11 a.m. on February 22.
Trustees grant tenure to five Bowdoin professors
The Board of Trustees voted to give tenure to five professors at their meeting last weekend. Ericka Albaugh of the government and legal studies department, Jack Bateman and Bill Jackman of the biology department, Steve Meardon of the economics department and Carrie Scanga of the visual art department were all promoted to the position of associate professor.Bowdoin professors who are eligible for tenure teach in a tenure-track position as opposed to a temporary, visiting professor position. Typically, professors are recommended for tenure in the fall of their sixth year at Bowdoin.
The College describes tenure in the Faculty Handbook as “a safeguard to academic freedom.” Tenure provides professors with more leeway in their research and more choice about what and how to teach.
“I’m going to do a little bit of different teaching than I was doing before,” said Meardon. “I can probably afford to try to start up courses, for instance, that might have seemed a little bit riskier for me before tenure. So I can do some experiments both in research and pedagogy.”
The Faculty Handbook also describes the College’s expectations for tenure candidates.
“Candidates for tenure will be expected to have excelled in their teaching and to have achieved a level of professional distinction recognized by members of their guild outside the College,” it states.
Each of this years appointees has a unique approach to the advancement of their scholarship. Professor Albaugh published her book on language politics in Africa, “State Building and Multilingual Education in Africa,” last year. Professor Jackman recently received a grant for his research on embryonic development in fish as a model for human development. Professor Meardon has done a great deal of research on changes in free trade due to trade policies. All of the professors agreed that the tenure process encourages a great deal of growth both as scholars and as educators.
“At Bowdoin, you’re expected to be an excellent scholar and an excellent teacher,” said Albaugh. “You also are expected to serve the College in several different capacities, so there’s lots of different tracks that you have to manage at once. So it’s been a lot of work. It’s also been really enjoyable. I’ve learned a lot about teaching.”
“The process is hard, too, because there’s a lot at stake,” said Meardon. “There’s a job that you love—and you want to be able to keep it—a place that you love to be at, and the experience of the students that you value.”
The consensus among the newly promoted professors is that they are excited to begin their work after achieving tenure— continuing current projects along with starting new ones.“You’re never quite done as a scholar,” said Albaugh. “That’s why we all got into this business—because we like to keep learning.”
Additionally, the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of three new professors to the faculty. Kana Takamatsu, who just received her Ph.D. in chemisty from the California Institute of Technology, Theo Greene, a current doctoral candidate at Northwestern, and Ken Kirsch, a Talman Scholar at Boston College, will all join Bowdoin next fall.
The College, however, is still in the middle of other searches for new professors, according to Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd. Professors of Japanese history and French are still being sought for the upcoming fall.
Applications drop 2.4% for the Class of 2019
Despite fewer applicants, overall number of Early Decision applications increased.
Between Early Decision I (ED I), Early Decision II (ED II) and regular decision candidates for the Class of 2019, the Office of Admissions has received a total of 6,765 applications to the College this year, down 170 from last year.
However, the overall number of ED I and ED II applications increased. Six hundred and sixty six ED 1, 287 ED II and 5,812 regular decision applications were received. ED I applications were up by 68 and ED II applications were up by 34 from last year. While those numerical increases are small, they represent substantial growth percentages in the ED I and II applicant pools.
Two hundred and eight applicants were accepted ED I this year for an admittance rate of 31 percent, a number that is substantially higher than Bowdoin’s overall acceptance rate of around 14 percent.
The Office of Admissions is currently reading and evaluating ED II and regular decision applications. ED II decisions will be announced in the middle of February and regular decisions will be announced in early April.
“We have passed the January first deadline so we have all of our applications in, but we are in the process of reading them at this time,” said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn. “We are currently busy getting a sense of the applicants. Everyone is plowing through the applications. We are just starting to get a sense of the applicant pool.”
According to Meiklejohn, this year’s numbers do not represent a significant change from previous application pools. Bowdoin received a record 7,052 applications for the class of 2017 and 6,935 applications for the Class of 2018. The acceptance rate has hovered between 13 and 15 percent over the past three years.
“These numbers are very similar to last year’s numbers. A difference of 170 is a blip. I think that our quality of doing business has remained the same as in previous years.”
According to Meiklejohn, Admissions has high hopes for an incoming class.
“Our job is to deliver to Bowdoin a very exciting group of people in August. The College has high aspirations for its students. Our job is to find smart, talented, diverse students.”
Brodigan to leave Institutional Research position in December
Becky Brodigan, vice president for institutional planning and assessment, will step down from her job at the College at the end of December. Brodigan has been with the Office of Institutional Research at the College for six years.
“She’s really, really talented,” said President Barry Mills. “And I think she’s decided that it’s time to think about doing some other things...She and I have talked about all kinds of interesting life changes that she’s contemplating.”
Brodigan declined to comment on her departure from the College.
During her time at Bowdoin, Brodigan has spearheaded many important projects for the Office of Institutional Research, such as the one-, five- and ten-year-out alumni data projects. These surveys track the percentage of Bowdoin graduates who are employed, enrolled in graduate or professional schools, traveling or seeking employment.
They also provide data about how well students feel the College has prepared them with certain skills and abilities and how often they use these skills, such as managing time and writing effectively. Before Brodigan’s arrival, Bowdoin “did not keep track of post-graduation data in a comprehensive way,” according to a 2012 Orient article.
“We’ve always had a very good institutional research capacity here at the College and when Becky came, it stepped up even more,” said Mills. “She brought a level of rigor and analysis to all of the survey work and analysis that she did that really stepped up the analysis for the College.”
On Monday, Brodigan received the Distinguished Service Award at the North Eastern Association of Institutional Research (NEAIR) conference. The award is given each year to a person who has made, according to NEAIR's website, “significant and substantial contributions to the field of institutional research, to the professional development of NEAIR colleagues and to the vitality and success of NEAIR as an organization over a period of years."
Before coming to Bowdoin, Brodigan served as the director of institutional research and planning at Middlebury for ten years.
Mills said that Brodigan’s departure will leave the College with “a big hole to fill.”
Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd said in a statement that in the wake of Brodigan's departure, the Office of Institutional Research will be reorganized to include Information Technology's data warehousing efforts. This new department, called the Office of Institutional Research, Analytics and Consulting, will be headed by Tina Finneran, the current director of academic technology and consulting.
“We’re in the process of trying to think about how we continue on the important trajectory that [Brodigan] put us on,” said Mills, regarding the restructuring of the College's institutional research efforts. “We’re trying to think about how the intersection between institutional research, data warehousing, data collection and storage can be even more technologically managed going forward.”
According to Judd's statement, the new Office of Institutional Research, Analytics and Consulting will "provide an opportunity to deepen existing synergies between the library and academic technology."
Nine department relocations to remap campus
Due to insufficient storage and concerns about Ashby House’s ability to house large quantities of books on the upper floors, the College will relocate the Religion Department to a space in Kanbar Hall in January. This move has triggered several other relocations that will take place during the spring and next fall, in addition to nine other relocations that will transform the layout of campus.
With the religion department occupying Kanbar, the Office of Off-Campus Study, the Office of Health Professions Advising and the Office of Student Research and Fellowships will move into the current Office of Residential Life space in Moulton Union.Residential Life will in turn move to the nearby Dudley Coe Building.
According to Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd, these moves will allow for easier collaboration between the Career Planning Center, already located in Moulton Union, and the offices moving in.
“For students I think it’s much easier if you can go into one location and not have to know whether you are talking about a fellowship or a funded internship or summer opportunity,” she said.
As for the religion department, professors have expressed minimal concerns about the move. “The religion department is looking forward to the move to Kanbar,” said Associate Professor of Religion Robert Morrison. “As the move is scheduled during Winter Break, we are confident that there will be minimal disruption in our teaching and scholarship.”
“That space for religion is one which fits the department perfectly in terms of the number of offices, and it gives them a great identifiable space,” Judd added.
Moving out of Ashby will also allow renovations to be made to the house. According to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administrator and Treasurer Katy Longley, the Treasurer’s Office is currently pricing these repairs and plans to relocate the Office of Student Aid to Ashby from Gustafson House in August.
“I think having the Financial Aid Office renovated and close to the Admissions Office will be helpful to prospective students and students here,” said Longley.
Additionally, the Bursar’s Office, the Controller’s Office and the Bowdoin College Human Resources Department will all move from 16 Station Avenue to 216 Maine Street in January. Longley says that these moves are unrelated to the relocation of the religion department to Kanbar. They will, however, minimize the outsourcing of office spaces to buildings off campus.
“The College will no longer have to be paying rent. We have a lease there [Station Avenue] until the end of the second semester,” said Longley. “We may use it for faculty offices for the remainder of the year.”
To facilitate the larger moves, Upward Bound offices will move from Dudley Coe to Gustafson House and two Counseling Services offices will leave 30 College Street for Gustafson House.
Religion department to move to Kanbar
The religion department will relocate from Ashby House to Kanbar Hall this January. The house, which was built in the 1840s, is no longer suited to hold large quanities of books and files on its upper floors, posing problems for professors with office space in the building.
Dean for Academic Affairs Christle Collins Judd said there is “no structural issue with the building.”
While Ashby has been deemed unsuitable for the needs of professors who currently have offices there, it poses no real immediate threat to them. Judd said many of the problems exist because Ashby was originally built as a residence hall.
“It is a residential house and so, structurally, having academic offices with many, many bookcases and many, many files is just not what the building was built for,” said Judd. “We recognize that it is not the best place to have lots and lots of bookcases and files on the upper floors.”
Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Katy Longley said that the building may require construction for later use. Whether or not such changes will be made will be decided by the Board of Trustees on October 16 and 17.
“We have to fix it structurally and...think about who will go in there, but it’s premature,” said Longley. “We’re still doing an investigation of how much we need to fix, how much it’s going to cost to fix it. We’ll have to go to the board for approval.”
Judd and Longley were both unable to comment on which professors in Kanbar will be required to move in order to make room for religion professors. It is not yet clear where those moved from Kanbar will be relocated.
After the religion department moves out, Ashby—whether renovated or not—will likely house administrative offices. “We will use it for administrative purposes—that doesn’t require all of the books and faculty,” said Judd. “[Ashby] was built as a house. It was built as a home. So it is fine for administrative purposes.”
Members of the religion department declined to comment on the move. However, Judd said that she feels certain the move will not have a negative impact on the department.
“Obviously, nobody likes to have to pack up your books and move, but the College will take care of that,” said Judd. “The department will have a good location as they go forward and access to good academic resources. So I think it’s a positive move for the department.”