This week, we have compiled the most important stories from the decade pertaining to faculty, administration, and world events. We have pulled a selection of actual headlines and relevant stories to showcase some of the most significant moments and enduring issues covered by the Orient. While our compilation is comprehensive, it is by no means complete. We encourage readers to pursue these headlines and others in our online archives, and to read our future installments of this series over the next two weeks.
Mills inaugurated as 14th president, November 2, 2001
Now in his ninth year leading the College, President Barry Mills remains modest about the growing list of changes, expansions and projects taken on under his supervision. While he said he recognizes the "pretty important role" he's played in imagining and implementing projects, he noted that "the College, in so many ways, isn't about the president."
"Mostly, I view myself as an enabler, to enable the faculty and the entire community, really, to achieve what they want to achieve. I certainly have views, I certainly have a vision, I certainly have made that vision known, but in large measure...it really is about the faculty," said Mills, in an interview with the Orient on Wednesday.
From his inauguration day, Mills has announced and stood by his visions for the College. In October 2001, Mills told the Orient, "I think it is very important for Bowdoin to be a place where one can get a sense of, where we can be a community that represents, the world, both nationally and internationally."
In a sense, the search for President Mills began with Mills—he was chairman of the Presidential Search Committee in 2000, composed of students, faculty, administrators, staff, and trustees. Although the committee hired A. T. Kearney Consulting to identify strong candidates for review, the committee eventually selected Mills to replace President Robert Edwards.
Mills said that during the presidential selection process, he recalls the committee was looking for someone who could move the College to the top level of liberal arts education.
"We were saying to all of the candidates that we wanted to make Bowdoin a national, an international College. We wanted to raise the stature of the College, we wanted to diversify the student body. We wanted to strengthen our academic program," he said.
Senior Capital Gifts Officer and Special Advisor to the President for College Relations Richard Mersereau '69 said that Mills "had his priorities from day one," and he's been able to manage College funding for faculty support, academic support, and financial aid.
In his time at Bowdoin, Mills has been instrumental in launching the $250 million capital campaign in 2004, increasing financial aid funding and introducing a no-loan policy in 2008, expanding Bowdoin's visibility and reputation, continuing and initiating campus construction and academic program expansion, committing to a carbon-neutral campus by 2020, and more.
While the president was undertaking all of these projects on behalf of the College, a complicating factor was introduced. In March of 2005, Mills announced an early-stage diagnosis of prostate cancer, but was quick to tell the Orient that he had no doubts he could "continue at the same intensity and commitment" to the College.
Over the summer, Mills underwent surgery to remove the cancer and was back on campus for the start of the 2005-06 academic year with all his usual "strength, energy, enthusiasm, and resolve to work," he announced at Convocation.
Now, Mills brings the College into the next decade.
"History will, I guess, judge in the last 10 years or more—because although you may be doing your retrospective, I'm not—how people look back on my period of leadership," he said.
Student faculty ratio decreases 9:1, December 12, 2008
Throughout the decade, the College maintained its dedication to securing high-performing faculty in the interest of students, the academic program, and promoting its ranking relative to peer schools. To do so, the College added more faculty positions and new academic programs.
"It's really the talent and ambition and aspirations of our faculty that really drive what this place is about or where it's going to go," said Mills.
Without recapping every faculty change since 2000, a few highlights over the years include adding an environmental coordinator in 2001, three new administrative positions in 2003, a new dean for academic advancement position in 2005, and nine faculty positions at once, funded by the capital campaign, in 2009.
Some changes among deans include appointing Cristle Collins Judd as dean of academic affairs in January 2006, and promoting Tim Foster to dean of student affairs from his senior associate dean position.
Dudley Coe Health Center saw three directors through the decade. In September 2000, nurse practitioner Robin Beltramini left her post as director of health services after she said she was asked to resign. Dr. Jeff Benson filled the position for over six years, until he unexpectedly left in January 2007, and was replaced by the current director, Sandra Hayes.
The College saw former Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William M. Shain admit the Classes of 2011 and 2012 before leaving unexpectedly in the summer of 2008. Shain said the increased burden on staff from a former associate dean's departure and family health concerns prompted his decision to leave. Then-Assistant to the President Scott Meiklejohn replaced Shain as an interim dean, and was then hired as full dean of admissions in December of 2009.
At the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Katy Kline spent 10 years as director from 1998 to October 2008. In an article from September 12, 2008, Kline said, "It is a good time to leave and let somebody else invent the next chapter," one year after the renovated museum opened. Kevin Salantino, from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, became the director in August 2009.
Mills said that regardless of the faculty spot to be filled, search committees give a lot of thought to continuing the "excellence" of the College.
"What I say to people all the time is that we're always looking to average up. When you think about who you bring to the College, you always want to do as well or better as you did the last time. And that's really my approach to the place," Mills said.
Panel tackles College diversity, February 15, 2002
Along with the addition of new faculty and academic programs, the College has been encouraged by students and faculty alike to increase campus diversity.
"What the College really is about, and what we really are represented by, is our faculty," Mills said.
In 2005, the departure of Executive Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Betty Trout-Kelly raised concerns on campus. In her 15 years with the College serving as a diversity leader for campus issues, Trout-Kelly helped implement Bowdoin's first affirmative action admissions program and advocated for minority students and faculty.
Following her departure, the 2005-06 academic year saw concerns of Bowdoin's black faculty rate—2 percent, according to the study printed in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education—trailing behind 20 other liberal arts schools. Dean for Academic Advancement Kassie Freeman, responsible for increasing faculty diversity at the time, strove to further diversify cultural representation on campus, according to an October 2005 Orient article.
Similar concerns were raised that led to an ad-hoc organization to unite queer staff, working in conjunction with the Queer/Trans Resource Center in place at the time.
Currently, Wil Smith serves as the associate dean of multicultural student programs, attending to the evolving issues of maintaining diversity on campus. In November 2008, a Faculty Diversity working group was assembled despite budgeting troubles. The working group has since worked on its mission of finding means to further faculty diversity.
The faculty workload: a response from Deans of Academic Affairs October 20, 2000
Beyond academic concerns or day-to-day operations maintained by professors, faculty and administration, employees of the College have also assumed ever-evolving roles developing and shaping Bowdoin.
In the past decade, faculty have been approved a number of substantial changes through faculty committees and meetings. In 2002, faculty approved the Recording Committee's proposal of a plus-minus grading system, adding the option of a plus or minus to the original ABCDF policy adopted in 1991.
In 2003, faculty approved a Credit/Fail grading measure and in 2005, they approved a new set of distribution requirements. By 2008, they eliminated the Credit/D/Fail option to be exercised in courses fulfilling distribution requirements.
"There have been a number of issues over the time, for example, the new statement of what a liberal arts education is about, and the new distribution requirements our faculty put together—that's hard work. And that was a real accomplishment by our faculty," Mills said.
He added that, at other colleges and universities, discussions about substantial changes to curriculum or policies can "cause real tension."
In 2008, after faculty raised concerns about the amount of extra and overlapping work being done on various College committees, faculty approved reform that combined or cut committees, reducing the number of faculty spots on committees from 140 to 90. Similarly, faculty also worked to address problems raised over the course of a year with pre-major academic advising,
"It was a huge accomplishment by the faculty over the last three to four years to really revamp faculty governance, and to reduce the number of committees, and to try to make faculty participation on committee work more rewarding and consequential," Mills said.
A future installment will further explore the changes made to the academic program in the decade, including the plus-minus grading system, Credit/D/Fail grading option, and updated distribution requirements.
Slow economy, budget woes cause job losses, January 24, 2003
Passing through two recessions in the past decade, the College has learned that it is not immune from financial turmoil in the world.
In 2003, President Mills announced that the College intended to eliminate 25-30 positions in anticipation of budget constraints for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. In a January 2003 Orient article, Mills suggested this did not translate to 25-30 layoffs, and the cuts were program-based rather than performance-based.
When the budget was approved in February, a February 14, 2003 Orient article reported that the total number of College employees dropped by 35, from 795 to 760—a $1.2 million cut in payroll.
Six years later, facing an economic crisis and similar budget fears, President Mills wanted to avoid job losses while balancing the budget. The Blue Tarp Committee—a group of students, faculty and administration—reviewed cost-saving proposals to the budget and opted to freeze faculty and most staff salaries for two years, while other schools chose to eliminate some comparable positions.