President Barry Mills announced last night that he plans to remain at the helm of Bowdoin for at least five more years.
"It is important for the College to have a continued sense of leadership," said Mills in explaining why he chose to share his intention, "and I committed to the trustees last spring that I would let them know."
There had been a noticeably strong indication from the Board of Trustees that Mills should remain in his corner office of Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. But Mills also cited great personal enjoyment in leading the College.
"At least for me, I've got the best job in America," he said.
Mills would ostensibly stay president through the 2015-2016 academic year, though he stressed that he was not proclaiming a retirement date, but rather a minimum time commitment.
Steve Gormley '72, chair of the Board, said that the trustees he had spoken with were very pleased. "I don't think that any members of the Board came here anticipating to hear one way or the other," he said. "We had tried to counsel Barry, telling him, 'your decision is not about what is best for Bowdoin, it's about what's best for you.' Of course, we are all delighted with his decision."
He added, laughing, "And I don't have to worry about hiring a search committee!"
The announcement squashes speculation that he would leave Brunswick in the near future. Mills noted that some had wondered whether the graduation of his youngest son, George, from Brunswick High School, or the continued tenure of wife Karen as head of the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C. would contribute to a decision to depart. There was also the fact that Mills, who was inaugurated in 2001, hit the 10-year mark this year; many college presidents do not linger on the same campus for more than a decade.
"In some people's minds, 10 years is a natural tenure," Mills said. "But I continue to think about these next five years as ambitiously as I have about these last 10."
Asked what specific goals he holds for the next five years, Mills said that he did not wish to link the news with any particular agenda.
"I just had to make a long-term plan," he said.
Whatever projects the College has in the pipeline, funding them will be easier with Mills and his prodigious fundraising skills onboard. According to figures recently released by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Bowdoin raised more money last year—$47,445,103—than all but two other liberal arts colleges in the country.