In celebration of fifty years of women at Bowdoin, the College is awarding its yearly honorary degrees to an all-female group of five honorands. The recipients are Katherine Bradford, Janet Langhart-Cohen, Raquel Jaramillo P’18, Laurie Lachance ’83, P’13 and Joan Benoit Samuelson ’79, P’12. All five will be recognized at the Commencement for the Class of 2022 on May 28. Bradford, Langhart-Cohen and Samuelson will each make speeches on campus that weekend.
Bradford is an artist whose painting “Fear of Dark,” created in Brunswick, has recently been added to the permanent collection at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The College previously showcased a solo exhibition of her paintings in 2013. Bradford’s paintings have been featured in multiple other galleries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tomio Koyama in Tokyo, Japan, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. She is scheduled to present a lecture in Kresge Auditorium on Thursday, May 26.
Television journalist and author Langhart-Cohen will also be receiving an honorary degree and holding a conversation in Kresge Auditorium over Commencement Weekend. Langhart-Cohen established the media consulting firm Langhart Communications in 2000. With her morning show, titled “Good Day,” she became the first Black woman in America to host a nationally-syndicated show. In her career working as a broadcaster for many different television networks, she has interviewed figures such as Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and Barbara Walters. Langhart-Cohen is the author of her memoirs “From Rage to Reason: My Life in Two Americas” and “Love in Black and White,” which she wrote with her husband and former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen ’62, H’75. Her one-act play, “Anne and Emmett,” based on the lives of Anne Frank and Emmett Till, premiered at the United States Holocaust Museum in 2009.
Jaramillo, an author known by the pen-name R. J. Palacio, is another honorand. Her best-selling children’s novel, “Wonder,” sold fifteen million copies in print worldwide and was adapted into a movie in 2017 that starred Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay. Her book about a child with Treacher Collins Syndrome inspired the Wonder Project, sponsored by organization myFace, to teach kindness towards individuals with facial differences in school assemblies across the U.S.
Lachance started her career as a corporate economist for Central Maine Power. She became Maine State Economist for three governors (1993–2004), served as president and CEO of the Maine Development Foundation and then became president of Thomas College in Waterville, Maine in 2012. Lachance was the first female to hold each of these four positions. In 2020, governor Janet Mills appointed Lachance as co-chair of Maine’s Economic Recovery Committee, and she now provides economic guidance to the governor throughout the pandemic.
Samuelson is a decorated marathoner. She is a member of the Olympic Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. She won the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983, when she set a course record that stood for eleven years. She founded the TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, which has received awards for its environmentally-sustainable operation. She was awarded Bowdoin’s highest honor, the Bowdoin Prize, in 1985. In addition, she was elected to Bowdoin’s Board of Overseers in 1995 and became a trustee in 1996. Samuelson has received eight honorary degrees from other colleges. She will present as a part of Commencement in Kanbar Auditorium on May 26.