McMahon hired as Assistant Dean of Student
Bowdoin has named Mary Pat McMahon, a former graduate school administrator and Ivy League admissions officer, to the position of Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. On the job since last May, McMahon replaces Mya Mangawang, who left Bowdoin last year to continue her education. McMahon, who was recommended by a search committee headed by Senior Associate Dean, Tim Foster, describes her new job as a mix of advising and administration. Her work will range from assisting upper-class students with academic and personal matters to enforcing college honor code policies and managing the student Judicial Board process. In addition, she will coordinate student advising between college offices. McMahon said she aims to open the door to students seeking to manage their time between school, social activities, leadership and resume-building.
"I want to be a resource to help people find direction and help make their college years a success," she said. "The main thing I do is present people with options. Often I sit down with students and map out their days so we can see how they are spending their time and how they can find balance. I like seeing all those pieces . . .fitting together, making sure people are keeping balance in their lives."
McMahon hopes students will meet with her to try and sort out decisions about their majors, career plans or even social pressures.
Noting that the committee that interviewed her included two student members, McMahon said student involvement "at a fundamental policy-making level is a special thing about Bowdoin. I think it's great." She likes what she has seen of the Judicial Board framework and hopes to hear the impressions and suggestions students have about the J-Board.
After several years working in admissions and administration at major universities, McMahon said she welcomes the opportunity to work at a closely-knit small campus. "There is a real sense of people looking out for one another here," she said, calling Bowdoin students "proactive and hardworking."
McMahon, originally from western Massachusetts, received an undergraduate degree from Yale and a graduate degree in international history from London School of Economics. Her diverse foci-the Middle East, Europe between the wars, and Vietnam-hint at McMahon's intellectual curiosity, and she notes that her life experiences and work in college admissions have helped her see that "you can't pigeonhole people" based on where they are from or what they have done with their lives. As an admissions officer at Yale for three years, McMahon came to appreciate that the way in which life experiences and personal characteristics interact to create a unique individual is often hard to predict.
After her time as a gatekeeper, McMahon wanted to work with students already on campus. Moving into administration, she took a job at New York University helping to run a PhD program at the business school. Her work there ranged from running orientation and advising students to administering fellowships and financial aid.
Now, at Bowdoin, McMahon is eager to continue her interaction and involvement with students. She stresses that she is "new, listening, and available" to help students wind their way through college and into the world, taking full advantage of the opportunities here.