On Tuesday, April 19, President Clayton Rose announced his plans to leave the College following the 2022-23 academic year. Rose, Bowdoin’s 15th President, will depart after an eight-year tenure. This transition is a vital opportunity for the College to reflect on the meaning of the presidency and broaden its view of what a college president should embody.
With the Presidential Search Committee yet to form, now is the time to start thinking critically about who we want to replace Rose. The committee’s chairs, Sydney Asbury ’03 and Bertrand Garcia-Moreno ’81 P’17, as well as those selected to round out the committee will bear the responsibility of translating these thoughts into a final selection. The board should take great care in choosing the faculty, staff, students and alumni tasked with this endeavor, ensuring they are truly representative of the values and experiences of our community.
Rose is reflective of the College’s presidential lineage, which is composed entirely of white men. Conversely, other NESCAC colleges—Bates College, Trinity College, Middlebury College, Amherst College and Connecticut College—have recently reversed their own historical precedents by selecting female presidents. Trinity College’s current President, Joanne Berger-Sweeney, is not only the institution’s first female president but also its first Black president.
This places Bowdoin squarely in the minority among its NESCAC peers, only three of which—Colby College, Tufts University and Wesleyan University—have similarly failed to move away from the white, male status quo when it comes to presidential appointments.
As times change, administration in higher education should transform to reflect the students and faculty it represents. Bowdoin’s Class of 2026 will form the most diverse group of incoming students in the College’s history. The president, as the face of the College, should signify how far we have progressed and how far we still have left to go. They should accompany this historic class into a new, more diverse, equitable and inclusive Bowdoin.
Rose’s administration has taken steps to begin to challenge social inequity on campus. The next president should come ready to build off these steps in order to dismantle the institutional inequalities Bowdoin has historically perpetuated.
The best way to accomplish this is to select an academic who hails from a historically marginalized group.
This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, which is comprised of Juliana Vandermark, Emma Kilbride, Cole van Miltenburg, Andrew Cohen, Chayma Charifi, Kristen Kinzler and Seamus Frey.