The athletic department has caught some attention due to a gift endowing the position of head coach of the baseball team. Director of Athletics Jeff Ward said that "as far as we can tell, it is the first Division III baseball position that's endowed, which is very cool."
The gift was given to the College by Richard Morse '60, a former Bowdoin baseball player and the founder and chairman of Boston Financial Management, Inc.
Morse was a reunion gift co-chair for the 50th reunion committee of his class, and Senior Vice President for Planning & Development and Secretary of the College Bill Torrey said that Morse "wanted to support the College and the [baseball] program in a helpful way in conjunction with his 50th reunion."
Torrey declined to specify the size of the gift; however, he did note that the College asks for contributions of $3 million from donors interested in endowing a professorship.
"Endowing administrative/coaching positions is done on a case-by-case basis with an amount required which the College feels is commensurate to support a named...position," he wrote in an e-mail to the Orient.
In a phone interview, Morse said that Ward was the "motivational force" behind the gift.
"I wanted to do something for the baseball organization...and Jeff thought it could be a precedent-setting situation," Morse said. "I'm hoping that it will set a precedent, in that other graduates or other students will see it as something to do, supporting other coaching positions. Funding a coaching position can be very meaningful to the school."
Morse emphasized that Bowdoin is "first and foremost an academic institution," but that he wants to ensure that the baseball program is consistently supported so that the team can "compete in the NESCAC and have a lot of fun with it."
"I don't expect this particular gift to incite Bowdoin to become a D-I ball club," he said. "This is just one way to help fund the program so that in times of financial stress, the College can continue to fully fund the program."
While donors to elite universities and schools with prominent D-I athletic programs frequently endow coaching positions, it is unusual for schools in D-III to receive such gifts.
According to Ward, Bowdoin's athletic department has, over the course of several decades, been given two other such gifts; both his position and the position of head coach of the men's ice hockey team are endowed.
Ward said that the gift did not lead to increased funding for his department.
"It didn't add to our budget, but it adds to our stability," he said. "It means that less of the athletic department's budget comes from the general budget. It is helping the College as a whole—I know that."
Ward explained that returns from the gift would cover the salary of the head baseball coach, allowing the College to spend money from the operating budget elsewhere.
When asked if the amount that the athletic department requests annually would drop this year as a result of Morse's gift, Ward replied, "I'm not requesting less money, but I know that the endowment takes care of part of that request."
"Yet I don't know exactly how much that endowment spins off," he added.
But what prevents the athletic department from requesting increasing amounts of money year after year, despite donors' gifts?
"It comes to responsible management on my part and those who oversee me," Ward said. "I want what we do to be of good quality, but I also don't want us to be frivolous. We're not going to all get chinchilla parkas."
In the current fiscal year, the athletic department has a budget of approximately $4.4 million, an amount comprising approximately 3 percent of Bowdoin's $150 million operating budget.