Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster will be leaving Bowdoin at the end of this academic year, citing a desire to spend more time with his family before figuring out his next plans.
In an email to the student body announcing Foster’s departure on Monday, President Clayton Rose noted the dean’s “profound impact” on the College and said he has already begun a national search to fill Foster’s role.
“While I very much respect and admire his decision, I cannot overstate how much I will miss working closely with him,” Rose wrote. “His wise counsel and steady hand, his thoughtfulness and his fabulous sense of humor.”
Foster, who received his B.A. from Dartmouth in 1987, came to Bowdoin in 1996 as the dean of first-year students. He said he imagined he would only spend a few years at the College, but found his work with students to be “one of the most satisfying and rewarding things.” He was promoted to Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs in 1998 and took his current position in 2006. His tenure has spanned three College presidents: Roberts H. Edwards, Barry Mills and Rose.
His consistent presence stood out in a dean’s office that saw significant turnover in the past few years. Of the six deans in the Student Affairs office, only one, Dean of Students Janet Lohmann, has been a dean at Bowdoin for more than four years—and Lohmann left Bowdoin in 2016 for Kenyon College, only to return last year.
Foster said he’ll miss being a part of Bowdoin but has full faith that the College will continue to grow and thrive without him.
“I love this place, so it’s hard, because it’s hard enough not being part of the good work to come, and there’s all kinds of good work to come,” he said.
Still, he felt it was time to achieve a better work-life balance, one that he has rarely experienced during his 22-and-a-half years at the College.
“This job is, in the way I’ve approached it, all-in, all the time,” Foster said. “It’s 24-7, 365. That’s the nature of the work.”
He’s now looking to spend more time with his wife, Stephanie, who is the associate director of institutional research for the College.
“I couldn’t have approached the job the way I have without her being a force of nature that she is,” he said. “I’ve been a shirker—a fulltime shirker, I would say—on the homefront.”
He said he’ll probably be back on campus for some events, though he’ll try to avoid the temptation to come back more often.
“What I’ll miss most is the people, because this place is populated with just extraordinary students, faculty and staff, so it makes coming to work every day just something you look forward to,” Foster said. “Whatever your day is going to entail, you’re going to be spending your time with an extraordinary group of people.”
But he will have a different source of joy at home.
“I’ve got a new puppy arriving this weekend, Taz,” he said. “So I have a companion for some of the adventures ahead.”
Nina McKay contributed to this report.