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College shifts leadership as Ganong ’86 steps down

Rick Ganong ’86 P’17, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, will be leaving Bowdoin at the end of the College’s fundraising year at the end of June. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn will take over leadership of that office at the request of President Clayton Rose, and Whitney Soule, director of admissions, will succeed Meiklejohn as dean. 

Ganong, who declined to be interviewed for this article, is leaving to pursue “business interests beyond the College,” according to a May 2 email to faculty and staff from Rose. “I think [the changes] represent that President Rose is thinking really carefully about the staff that he would like to have in place,” said Soule. “With Rick Ganong’s decision to leave, that opened up a chance to look at the staff who is here and I think he’s taking advantage of skills that some of the internal people possess and the relationship and commitment that they already have to Bowdoin.” 

Meiklejohn said that though he is sad to leave admissions, he sees parallels between his current job and his new one.

“I have always thought of these jobs as being pretty similar and both offices are doing highly individual work with huge numbers of people,” he said. “This office involves telling a lot of Bowdoin stories—so does that office.”

Meiklejohn has worked in several capacities for the College over the past twenty years and began his career at Bowdoin working in development and alumni relations. He became dean of admissions in 2009. During his time in admissions, Bowdoin saw its highest-ever applicant totals and levels of selectivity.

Despite the response of some alumni to campus events such as the “tequila” party this year, Meiklejohn said he thinks the relationship of the College to its alumni remains strong. 

“I’m not worried about that for Bowdoin’s future. We’ve had other decisions that the College has made over time that not everyone agreed with,” he said. “The depth of [alumni] four-year experiences here and their classmates, professors and friends—those are the things that dominate their feeling about what Bowdoin means and what it is in the landscape of higher education more than is there something in this week’s headline that isn’t right or isn’t going well.”

Soule said that she hopes to continue the work that Meiklejohn has done in terms of increasing the overall diversity of the student body. 

“The trend of increasing diversity is really an institutional principal, and it’s really fundamentally important for education,” she said. “While it may look like a trend it’s really an absolute as part of our work. I think that as the complexity of our population continues to grow and change that will continue to be represented in our prospect and applicant pool and in the class we enroll.”

Soule also said that while she does not plan on making any major changes in admissions, the admissions office is always working to make decisions to strengthen their applicant pool. 

“I think that we are really attentive to the demographic shifting that’s happening in the United States, the decline in the high school population and thinking about adapting our recruitment methods and our selection methods to continue to find the very best students for Bowdoin while understanding that the population is changing and shrinking,” she said. 

Nicole Wetsman and Emily Weyrauch contributed to this report.

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