After eight years as the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good’s Associate Director for Service and Leadership, Andrew Lardie has departed the College to take on a role at the Brunswick School District.
Since coming to Bowdoin in 2013, Lardie has worked on numerous programs at the McKeen Center, from Alternative Break Trips to his passion project, Bowdoin Votes. Lardie’s departure from the McKeen Center comes just months after another departure from the McKeen Center, when former Associate Director of Public Service Sarah Chingos’ moved from the Center to a new position as an Associate Dean of Admissions.
“There was an opening [at the Brunswick School District], which was a pretty extraordinary opportunity for a person like me to do a lot of the things I already do in a new environment,” Lardie said. “[I’m] serving a different population and continuing to deepen my knowledge about our town and the community that I’m a part of and I’m a resident in, where I’m really invested as a person.”
Lardie originally created Bowdoin Votes in 2015 in an attempt to bring the values of the McKeen Center to the electoral process, emphasizing the importance of civic participation outside of two- and four-year periods. Through voter registration drives, tabling, and holding co-sponsored events, Bowdoin Votes has maintained a strong presence and helped to foster a student culture of political activity, as Lardie originally envisioned.
“I expect that programs could get shuffled among all the staff and the department,” Lardie described. “But we’re going to take Bowdoin Votes seriously and continue to follow through on the commitments that the College has made to investing in Bowdoin students, civic learning, democratic engagement and that domain of their education.”
Lardie’s role will be filled by an interim staff member, who will take over many of the operations he managed (including Bowdoin Votes). The hiring process for the associate director position will begin next semester, according to McKeen Center Director Sarah Seames. In the meantime, the McKeen Center will internally assess each of the programs it offers and find ways to restructure their management.
Seames suggested that the recent turnover in McKeen Center staff should not be considered a deterrent. “We’re trying to look at it as an opportunity for us to pause and regroup and refocus on what our goals are and talk to students about what they want to see at the McKeen Center and build from there,” said Seames.
Lardie said that his goals for his new role are still in line with promoting the common good in Brunswick.
“I am definitely interested in expanding that idea of how our students, the [Brunswick High School] students, are thinking about becoming adults and putting some energy into doing what I’ve done with Bowdoin Votes, which is encouraging students to develop their identities as citizens,” he said.
Lardie’s departure leaves a hole in the McKeen Center. His passion and energy will be sorely missed. From wearing an Uncle Sam hat during events to creating a Beatles-themed voter drive, Lardie’s creativity has been an essential aspect of the McKeen Center throughout his tenure.
“We’re just really happy he’s staying local and he’s actually going to be in a role that will allow us to still work with him as a community partner in the Brunswick School District,” Seames said. “So, we’re looking forward to keeping those kinds of connections.”
Penny Mack ’22, the McKeen Center Fellow for Election Engagement, spent the past three years working with Lardie. “I love working with Andrew. He made me laugh. He had dad jokes, dad joke energy, which I thought was very fun.”