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Community remembers trustees’ ‘generous enthusiasm’

September 6, 2018

Copyright Bob Handelman
James Macallen

The Bowdoin community lost two valued members over the summer with the passings of Iris Davis ’78 and Jim MacAllen ’66. Both had served on the Board of Trustees and are remembered by those who knew them for their commitment to the College.

“Iris and Jim represented the best of the Common Good,” said President Clayton Rose.

Rose recalled having dinner with MacAllen shortly after being named president of the College and said that conversation with the late trustee left him “more excited about coming to Bowdoin and more comfortable about the challenges and the opportunities and the ability to get after both of them.”

During his time at Bowdoin, MacAllen garnered praise as a star football player. He still holds the record for most career touchdowns by a wide receiver. He later tried out for the Philadelphia Eagles, although he never played in an NFL game. Instead, he pursued an MBA at the University of Virginia, from which his graduated in 1968.

Still, his connection to Bowdoin never wavered. In a phone interview with the Orient, Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Scott Meiklejohn remarked that MacAllen “knew more Bowdoin people at age 72 than 22.”

In addition to his membership of the Board of Trustees, the former football player served as a BASIC volunteer for Admissions, was active in his class reunions and was the director of the Alumni Fund. In 2016, he was honored with the Alumni Service Award.

His name will live on at Bowdoin. Earlier this year, the Board of Trustees voted to name one of the Park Row apartment complexes that is currently under construction after MacAllen. Of the four buildings, the one with the largest social space—equipped for a cappella concerts, improv shows and more—will bear the late trustee’s name, according to Meiklejohn. It’s a reflection of MacAllen’s gregarious nature and his commitment to the student experience.

“Jim would have loved all that,” Meiklejohn said.

Part of the fourth class of women ever to graduate from Bowdoin, Davis was likewise a star athlete during her time at the College. She played several sports and was most notable as the goaltender on two championship women’s field hockey teams. A history and biology major, she was active in the Afro-American Society, now African American Society, and the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. She also gave back to the community, coaching elementary school kids at the Brunswick Recreational Center after graduating.

She went on to earn her Masters in Public Health from Boston University and later worked for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Rose recalled Davis as always possessing insights that others in the room had not yet reached.

“She always had this other thing she wanted me to know about, and she wanted me to think differently,” he said.

He added that, in addition to their personal accomplishments, Davis and MacAllen would be remembered for their profound commitment to Bowdoin.

Meiklejohn characterized each of them as passionate about the College, possessing “generous enthusiasm” and regularly sharing their time and resources with fellow Polar Bears.

“They took great joy in doing things with Bowdoin people,” he added.


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