The Bowdoin Orient

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Bowdoin prepared to inaugurate 15th president, celebrate contemporary role of the liberal arts

The last presidential inauguration held at Bowdoin occurred just after the new millennium. The 9/11 attacks had just occurred. Facebook, Twitter and MySpace were yet to be invented. Now, 14 years later, Bowdoin is ready to host another and officially welcome President Clayton Rose as the College’s 15th president.

According to Rick Ganong, senior vice president for development and alumni relations and the chair of Bowdoin’s Inauguration Committee, Bowdoin will be “the place to be in the state of Maine” on the weekend of October 16 for Rose’s inauguration. 

The ceremony will include significant pomp and circumstance. Homecoming and the Board of Trustees’ fall meeting will also take place during that weekend. 

The festivities will kick off on Thursday night with a performance from student a cappella groups in Pickard Theater. On Friday morning, there will be tours of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and the Edwards Center for Art and Dance. 

The Inaugural Symposium’s two panels will take place Friday afternoon in Pickard Theater, starting with a keynote by Hanna Holborn Gray, president emerita of University of Chicago and one of Rose’s mentors. Jennifer Scanlon, interim dean for academic affairs, will moderate the first panel of alumni and academics entitled “Yes, It Still Matters: Why and How We Teach the Liberal Arts.” The second panel, “Making a Living and Making a Life: The Liberal Arts in Commerce and Citizenship,” will consist entirely of alumni: Kenneth Chenault ’73 H’96, Ruthie Davis ’84, Shelley Hearne ’83 and George Mitchell ’54 H’83 will speak. Andy Serwer ’81, journalist and editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance will moderate the panel. The symposium will be streamed live online.

Friday evening, the indie-rock band Guster will perform in Morrell Gym. 

Saturday morning the moment will be President Rose’s. A procession will lead down to Farley Field House, where Rose will officially become Bowdoin’s 15th president. 

While this is Rose’s weekend, he has been minimally involved in the planning process. The Inauguration Committee, which consists of 14 members, has been planning the event. The committee is made up of faculty, staff, students and trustees of the college. 

Scanlon is a member of the committee. According to her, Rose was interested in examining the concept of a liberal arts education throughout the weekend.

“It has provided us with a really exciting opportunity to really think carefully and invite people to talk about the role of the liberal arts,” said Scanlon. She recognizes that there are currently “a lot of demands for more pre-professional education.”

She hopes that the discussion will continue in the community after the panel.

“As a member of the Inauguration Committee, certainly we looked at the past several inaugurations at Bowdoin as well as inaugurations at other places,” said Scanlon. 

The ceremonial aspects of the event will be similar to those of the past and at other schools; however, the symposium keeps the Inauguration unique to Bowdoin.

“I’ve had the good fortune to work with a great committee…They’ve had terrific ideas, they’ve executed well and they’ve followed through,” said Ganong. “We got lucky to have such a great lineup for the symposium, and such a good solid list of those speaking at the ceremony, and we’re looking forward to the music.” 

With the Inauguration still two weeks away, student reaction has been more mixed. One email has been sent to the student body presenting an opportunity to register for the Inauguration itself. According to Ganong, 87 students are currently registered. It is expected, however, that this number will rise in the coming week.

“I RSVP’d to the Inauguration because I feel like it is a big day for the College,” said Lucy Ryan ’19, who registered upon receiving the initial email. 

Aziza Janmohamed ’19 was equally interested but has not yet registered. 

“It seems really exciting and is a special event so I will be there,” Janmohamed said.

Yet other students are less interested in the upcoming inauguration. 

“I got one email and I just read through the thing…I just kind of assumed it was not something that I would want to go to,” said Sophia Ardell ’17.

Ganong declined to comment about the cost of the event, which includes Inauguration, Homecoming and Trustees’ Weekend, but noted that “this only happens once every 10, 15, 20 years,” and thus will be celebrated accordingly. 




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