President Barry Mills announced in a schoolwide email on January 6 that Rick Ganong ’86 will be the new senior vice president for development and alumni relations, effective immediately.
Ganong, who has a long history with the College, has previously held partner positions at the Windhorse Group and Tudor Investment Corporation—both financial institutions.
Mills calls Ganong a close friend and said that he asked him to make the career change because of his confidence in Ganong’s ambition and ability.
“I’ve known Rick for 13 years,” said Mills. “So the relationship came out of me seeing a person who I really trust and admire and who is incredibly capable, and [who] decided to have a change of career when I approached him and asked if this was something he’d like to do.”
While this new job is a departure from the finance world, many of Ganong’s new responsibilities will have much to do with investment and management.
“I’ve never held a development job in my life, but I’ve performed a lot of the functionality of development,” said Ganong.
When asked to describe the role of the senior vice president of development and alumni relations in a phrase, Mills stated, “To raise money.” Ganong agreed.
“I’ve raised money throughout my career,” he said. “[We] would have to go out and raise venture capital funds, so [we] were always raising money from investors. Barry and I felt that those skills would be transferable to Bowdoin and to development.”
Ganong mentioned that one of the most important projects he will take on is ensuring that financial aid at the College remains robust. In light of peer schools such as Wesleyan eliminating their need-blind policy for financial aid due to economic trouble, Ganong stressed that protecting financial aid is a crucial component of his job.
Career change aside, it seems that Ganong already has a leg up on his role in alumni relations. A double major in Government and Classics, he graduated in ’86, as did his wife of 23 years, Kris. He also counts his sister, father-in-law, sister-in-law and her husband as Polar Bear kin. And finally, Ganong’s daughter Kimmy is a member of the Class of 2017.
“Particularly in the alumni relations and development world—where there is obviously huge love and connection of the alumni to the College—having someone who has deep roots into the place allows that person an instant credibility that is harder for other folks who don’t have those deep roots into that place,” said Mills.
Ganong succeeds Kelly Kerner, who has held the senior vice president position since 2012. According to Mills, Kerner will continue on at the College in a full-time position advising and aiding him on different projects. Kerner could not be reached for comment before press time.
As Ganong settles into his office at 85 Federal Street, his confidence in Bowdoin’s future is resolute.
“There are three things you always look for when making a good investment: a good management team, a great product, and strong financial footing,” he said. “I’ve invested in stocks and private companies my whole life and if Bowdoin were a stock, I’d buy it.”