Many students, faculty and professors find themselves lost when having to deal with hefty legal documents, especially students who would usually request the help of parents at home. Many students find themselves in need of a notary, or a public official that serves as an impartial witness, whose signature is often necessary for the authorization of official documents. Little to the knowledge of most students, there are many notaries dispersed throughout the Bowdoin campus. 

The majority of notaries are staff members who work in the Treasurer’s Office such as Legal Compliance Officer Meg Hart. 

Because of the frequency with which the Treasurer’s Office deals with official documents, the College recommends that staff within the Office become notaries. 

Hart came to Bowdoin straight from law school, and upon receiving the job, the College requested that she take the notary test. Under Maine law, Hart’s status as an attorney meant that she could notarize documents. However, to become an official notary or to gain the ability to notarize documents in other states, Hart was required to take a test, which she did upon arrival to Bowdoin.

Next door, Sharon King, office supervisor of facilities management, took a different path to becoming a notary. 

“I became a notary because a friend of mine was one, and I thought it was interesting to watch her do what she does,” she said.

King explained that the process of becoming a notary is relatively easy. For the state of Maine, anyone interested must take an open book exam, pay a $50 fee and be sworn in by a Dedimus Justice.

All the way across campus, in the basement of Gibson Hall, Concert, Budget and Equipment Manager Delmar Small is unique in that he is a notary within the music department. Small became notarized during his time working for a bank before coming to work at Bowdoin. Small explained that this bank paid for him to become a notary as a service to its customers.  

After Small started at Bowdoin, however, he found that he needed notary services one day, and it seemed like all of the notaries were in the Treasurer's Office or the Controller's Office. Because of his office’s close vicinity to campus, Small believed it would be convenient for students and faculty if he added his name to the list of notaries here at Bowdoin and to make himself available.

The variety in the way that these three members of Bowdoin faculty became notaries is also reflected in how they apply their position on campus.

“I am a notary for college business, first and foremost,” Hart said. “I’ve used it for official documents, whether it’s banking documents or things to do with real estate if we’ve had a real estate closing.” 

In contrast, King’s work as a notary is usually off of campus, such as performing wedding ceremonies. The majority of requests are favors for Bowdoin staff members as opposed to official Bowdoin College business. 

King believes that she has helped more faculty and staff than students because of her location off campus in Rhodes Hall which is generally only visited by students for security concerns. 
Small’s location has had the opposite effect, as he often works with students who have legal business that they would normally take to City Hall or the Department of Motor Vehicles but are unable to because they are away from home. Small said he often helps with driver’s license renewals or helping students get out of jury duty. 

Both Small and Hart have also worked extensively with the study abroad programs. Hart explains that notarization is helpful, as many students request to work with countries or programs that don’t necessarily know Maine law or even U.S. law.

Despite variations in the path to becoming a notary, all three staff members agree that it is an easy status to obtain that has proven extremely useful here on campus.

“I just make my services available for free for Bowdoin faculty staff and students. I see it as a public service,” said King.

A full list of notaries can be found on the Bowdoin Administrative Services website.