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President Rose reflects on his legacy on WBOR

February 24, 2023

Cloe Tarlton

For the first time during his tenure at Bowdoin, President Rose joined WBOR on Tuesday night for an interview with hosts Mason Daugherty ’25, Luke Porter ’23 and Caleb Adams-Hull ’23. The tone of the interview was mostly playful, but a few serious subjects were also addressed.

When the hosts asked Rose if he harbors any regrets around his tenure at Bowdoin, he hinted that he planned to send an email to the community Wednesday about former trustee Jes Staley ’79.

“I’ll give you a very, very serious answer,” Rose said. “Tomorrow I’m going to send a message to the campus about something that’s been on folks’ minds and relates to a former trustee and share some views about that, and for sure in there are serious regrets.”

When asked which campus building he would destroy if he could, he named Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. He said that he would replace it with a brutalist library.

“Someday, before too long, we will have to destroy the library and rebuild it,”he said. “And, having [had] my office in that building, I can say that I would like to be there when they swing that ball and knock the thing down. It’s fine, but I look forward to the reimagination of what the library can be.”

Rose said that he hopes his successor strengthens the Center for Career Exploration and Development (CXD) and career-focused distribution requirements.

“We’ve done really great work in CXD and really [have been] raising our game there, but there’s more work to do there, so that’s an area to focus on,” Rose said. “There is really fantastic work that’s going on in the faculty around thinking about distribution requirements and the education as it relates to work … but I hope that work continues a good long time as well.”

His answer aligns with proposals he has recently made at faculty meetings to introduce credit-bearing courses for workplace skills like data management and data analysis, which the CXD currently offers only as extracurricular courses. Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Jennifer Scanlon also suggested at a recent faculty meeting that the CXD should strengthen its relationship to the humanities departments to address declining enrollment in the humanities.

Rose said one of the efforts he is most proud of is the College’s development of environmentally conscious facilities during his tenure. He named the Roux Center for the Environment, the expanded Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Kent Island, which he acknowledged existed decades before he arrived, and the new John and Lile Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies as examples of such facilities.

He said he hopes his successor continues to focus on Bowdoin’s work as a leader in environmentalism.

He also addressed the College’s expansion of financial aid under his tenure.

“I also am incredibly proud of increasing the number of students on aid, the size of the aid packages that we provide, increasing the students of color, the first-[generation] students that we have here, the creation of the THRIVE program,” he said.

He acknowledged that Covid-19 will likely be a part of his legacy.

“Whatever they say about my time as President, Covid will be a part of it,” he said. “It was an amazing thing to work through with this community and to come out the other side, having realized that two goals are protecting the health and safety of our community and delivering as strong an education as we could.”

The hosts primarily asked Rose lighthearted questions, like whether he would drill the quad if oil was discovered below it (no), whether he prefers Moulton or Thorne (he loves them equally) and what type of building he would like to have named after him (a food truck).

Rose revealed that one difficult aspect of being president is cultivating relationships with others.

“It’s more challenging to develop personal relationships with people because they see you as the president, and they have this kind of view about whatever that means,” he said.

Rose said he plans to return to Harvard Business School in 2024 to teach after he and his wife, Julianne, take a six-month hiatus beginning in July to rest, travel, fly fish and visit family.

Daugherty, one of the hosts, said he was pleased to see Rose let go of his script.

“I was worried that he might stick to his canned responses, but I was glad to see that he let loose a little bit,” Daugherty said in an interview with the Orient.

When asked if Bowdoin works harder or plays harder, Rose said he thinks Bowdoin needs to have more fun.

“I think we need to have a little more fun here. I’ve been saying that since we arrived this year. This year is the year for fun,” Rose said. “We have to remember what that’s like. So maybe we tilt into the fun a little bit.”


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