Relationships between the administration and student body are an integral part of a high functioning college or university. Humanizing our institutional superiors provides us a sense of companionship and support rather than discomfort and condescension as we persist in our academic, extracurricular and social endeavors. With this in mind, I, Sara Caplan, have a firsthand understanding of the benefits one reaps from a positive relationship with Bowdoin’s administration.
My first interaction with President Clayton Rose was at matriculation. I was eager to impress the man who would have a heavy hand in the next four years of my educational experience. Sweat slowly dampened my floral dress as I approached the hallowed halls at the rear of the third floor of Hawthorne Longfellow Library. I decided that the most impactful thing I could say to my president was a joke. I frantically attempted to conjure up a joke that was witty, eloquent and all together unforgettable. However, in my anxiety-ridden state, my mind drew a blank. I could not think of a single joke worthy of the coming interaction. Lacking humorous ammunition, I entered President Rose’s office. After standing in a winding line for a few painfully long minutes, my clammy palm grasped the ballpoint pen, and I added my name to the long list of Bowdoin students who came before me. I then turned to face the president of the academic institution to which I now belonged, and, before I could stop myself, I blurted out my current predicament. I explained that I really wanted to come up with a riveting joke that would make me stand out in the long parade of Class of 2020 members. I described my desire to be remembered, and how I had choked under pressure. I also promised that as soon as I thought of a worthy joke, I would come back. Rose responded understandingly, and encouraged me to keep him posted. I walked out of the room engulfed in a cloud of disappointment but with a glimmer of hope for a future humorous riff.
The second of my magnificent interactions with President Rose was at a panel on the Common Good. Moderators asked panelists how the Common Good should be defined and what role Bowdoin needs to play in working towards that goal. After the panel, I realized that this was my second chance to provide the President with a worthwhile and memorable interaction. I rose from my sofa in the living room of Howell, picked up a complimentary donut hole, and made my way over to our esteemed president. He turned his attention to me and began to ask for my thoughts on the panel I just witnessed. However, he only got a few words out before disaster struck, for I chose that exact moment to bite into my donut hole. I quickly discovered that my donut hole was occupied with filling. That filling, as delicious as it was, upon sinking my teeth into the donut’s fluffy exterior, proceeded to fly forth from its casing onto the carpet and President Rose’s shoe. (I am happy to announce that, to the best of my knowledge, he did not notice the residue on his shoe. However, if you are reading this now, President Rose, I apologize for the mess I made.) I then politely excused myself to the kitchen, retrieved an abundance of paper towels and got down on all fours and cleaned the filling that rested on the carpet directly in front of the man I wished to impress. (I apologize; I did not clean off your shoe.) Afterwards, I returned to my feet and quickly stated, “oh, by the way, my name is Sara.” President Rose responded to my comment with a polite “Hi Sara, my name is Clayton.” Leaving Howell a few minutes later, “Clayton” and I realized that we were headed in the same direction. We then enjoyed a lovely walk to what was then my home away from home: Winthrop Hall. We wished each other goodnight and parted ways.
While these interactions both highlight the absurdity of my social skills, each instance contributed to my growing awareness that relationships are at the forefront of this prominent academic institution. I am forever grateful for these stepping stones that will form my dynamic and tight-knit relationship with President Clayton Rose.
P.S. President Rose, I finally thought of a joke: Where does the king keep his armies?… In his sleevies!