Bowdoin alumni, faculty and community members from all over the world gathered on campus yesterday for the dedication of the recently constructed Barry Mills Hall.
Barry Mills Hall and the John and Lile Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies (CAS) are the newest buildings on campus, completing construction officially in December 2022.
Guests milled about the space provided with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, prior to remarks from President Clayton Rose, Chair of the Board of Trustees Scott B. Perper ’78 and Former President Barry Mills ’72 H’15, himself.
Rose began his remarks by acknowledging many notable people in the audience, including Mills’ extended family, Former President Robert Edwards and four former chairs of the Board of Trustees. He then talked about the building itself and expressed gratitude to those involved in its creation process, with particular thanks to Professor of Art Mark Wethli for creative contributions and Stanley Druckenmiller ’75 H’07 for financial contributions.
“This building was built to fill critical needs of the College. To add significantly to our stock of flexible and technology-friendly classrooms, to add space for faculty and student study, a state-of-the-art cinema studies classroom, and to provide campus with this amazing, large, beautiful event space,” Rose said.
He also elaborated on the sustainable efforts taken in constructing Mills Hall. Both new buildings are constructed with cross-laminated timber (CLT), which is more environmentally friendly and stronger than steel, the alternative material. Mills Hall and CAS are some of the first buildings in the country to be constructed with CLT.
Finally, Rose introduced Mills to the audience. To regale Mills’s legacy at the College, Rose first slyly poked fun at Mills’s stint on the Presidential Search Committee in 2000, which landed him in the presidential seat, and then recounted the milestones Mills achieved in his tenure as president of the College.
“The years of Barry’s presidency were some of the most transformative in our history,” Rose said. “He will perhaps best be remembered for how he changed thousands of lives and the trajectory of the College by improving access to a Bowdoin education and by expanding racial and socioeconomic diversity among our students. During his time, our applications grew by 66 percent, from 4100 to just under 7000.”
Rose turned the program over to Perper, who continued remarks about Mills and his legacy. He started with an anecdote about asking ChatGPT to write his remarks for him, which he ultimately abandoned in favor of his own words.
“This gathered crowd today speaks volumes about who Barry is, what his leadership has meant to Bowdoin and what he has meant to each one of us on a very personal basis,” Perper said. “Two young Bowdoin graduates have been in the news the past month, Justin Pearson ’17 and Evan Gershkovich ’14…. We and the world are seeing the power of their work, of their individual strength and from what was shaped because of the culture Barry’s important leadership created here at Bowdoin from which they learned and grew as people.”
Perper ultimately invited Mills, along with his family, up on stage to unveil the dedicatory plaque that will be hung on the building in his honor. Mills then took the stage to make a few remarks about the building and his tenure at the College.
Mills spent much of his remarks heralding the achievements of Edwards and Rose, respectively, expressing his gratitude for their leadership and influence.
“When you look at this campus, you take enormous pride in what Bowdoin represents, and nobody is more careful and committed to that than Bob and Blythe Edwards, but certainly Clayton and Julianne have continued that tradition to make sure this place is a place that is so beautiful and that we all care about,” Mills said.
One of the primary milestones of Mills’ term was the creation of the Department of Digital and Computational Studies, which will be housed in Mills Hall.
“What we really should be proud of is what goes on in those buildings. There are many Bowdoin faculty here today who do incredible [things] with our students. I saw it for 14 years, and I am confident that continues today,” Mills said. “This is the future of our college, so the measure of our excellence, the measure of our future, is what goes on in those classrooms and the teaching and learning that happens in those classrooms…. Digital and Computational Studies is a program that was really important to me, and I think it’s gonna be really important to our students.”
Wethli reflected on the process of seeing the building developed from the ground up because he was on the planning committee that chose the architects for the building.
“It seems like yesterday we sat in a room, and this was all just imagination. Then it moves from that to sketches, and then the sketches become plans,” Wethli said. “To see it become all this is the end of that process, and that’s pretty great.”
Favian Busnawi ’23 attended the dedication along with the men’s golf team in gratitude to Mills.
“Barry Mills has been a huge supporter of not just the golf team but all athletic teams and the Bowdoin community, and being there was a way to show our gratitude for his impacts on all of our personal lives,” Busnawi said. “I’ve been lucky enough to build such a close relationship with President Mills these past four years at Bowdoin.”
The John and Lile Gibbons CAS will be dedicated next month, and both buildings will be open to the community starting this summer.