On campus, political correctness is a growing concern
Interactive Administrative responses to sixteen months of incidents of ethnic stereotyping
A guide to the 2016 housing lottery
Interactive 14.8% acceptance rate for Class of 2018; up 0.3 percentage points
Volent remains highest-paid non-president in the NESCAC
Approval ratings: Fall 2016 approval ratings survey results
ELECTION 2016: Election 2016 survey results
Approval ratings: Spring 2016 approval ratings survey results
This week the Orient sent out its biannual approval ratings survey, which asks students about their opinions on various institutions on campus. 518 students responded to this semester’s edition of the survey, and while many of the institutions received similar scores as they did last Spring and this Fall, a few results stood out. The percentage of students who strongly approve of Bowdoin dropped by 10 percentage points in the last five months, and the percentage of students who disapprove and strongly disapprove of Residential Life also increased fairly dramatically. A slightly smaller percentage of students approve or strongly approve of President Rose compared to approval of President Mills last spring, and while there was a 10 percent bump in students that strongly approve of the town of Brunswick compared to this fall, it is still 10 percentage points lower than last Spring’s ratings. Also, over two percent of respondents have no opinion on Bowdoin’s faculty.
A guide to the 2016 housing lottery
Interactive: Administrative responses to sixteen months of incidents of ethnic stereotyping
See below for Orient coverage of the three major incidents of cultural appropriation in the past two academic years:'Tequila' party
News: Students debate articles of impeachment at BSG meeting
News: Stereotyping at 'tequila' party causes backlash
Opinion: A satirical exploration of the tequila party
Opinion: Somos tequileros: a personal reaction to the "tequila" party
Opinion: We must recognize lingering effects of upbringing
Opinion: Responding to my critics and expanding the conversation
Opinion: Punitive measures not the best way forward
Opinion: Criticisms of political correctness are no excuse
Opinion: The ownership of cultures is not a simple matter of race and ethnicity
Opinion: A letter from Professor Gustavo Faverón-Patriau
Editorial: Out of focus
Editorial: Listen and learn'Gangster' party
News: ‘Gangster’ party spurs debate over racism on campus
Opinion: Cultural appropriation: why they're not 'just clothes'
Opinion: How didn’t we realize this was wrong?
Editorial: Broken dialogue
Opinion: Campus must agree on what progress means following ‘gangster’ party
Opinion: Administration must take real action and stop making students do its job
Editorial: System administration'Cracksgiving'
News: Students who dressed as Native Americans to face disciplinary action
Editorial: A more vocal majority
Opinion: Schools lack culturally relevant curricula
Opinion: Why hasn’t the College taken stronger stances, actions on racial issues?
Opinion: Activists must listen and empathize to have more effective conversations
Video: President Barry Mills leaves a legacy of financial aid expansion
When President Barry Mills departs from the College in July after 14 years, he will leave behind a legacy of increased access to Bowdoin and a more diverse student body, something he accomplished through a dramatic expansion of the College’s financial aid program.
During his first year as president in 2001, the College awarded $13,870,759 (adjusted for inflation) in need-based financial aid to 627 students, according to the College’s Common Data Set. This year, Bowdoin provided $29,739,519 in institutional aid to 803 students, meaning that at the end of Mills’ tenure, the College both offers a larger average grant and provides grants to more students. Mills said that those rising numbers reflect his longstanding belief that financial aid is essential to the future of the College.
“It’s been at the heart and soul of my commitment to the College since the day I came,” said Mills.
Indeed, as early as his October 27, 2001 inaugural address, Mills had identified expanding access and supporting students with need as one of the biggest challenges Bowdoin faced.
“Our continued commitment to a strong financial aid program will ensure that students from rural Maine, and students from poor neighborhoods in New York City and Los Angeles, and even some not-so-wealthy students from Rhode Island will be able to come here to learn,” he said that day.
Mills himself was once one of those not-so-wealthy students from Rhode Island. His father had not finished the 10th grade, yet with the help of financial aid, Mills matriculated at Bowdoin and graduated in 1972. As he sees it, expanding access to Bowdoin is an integral part of the College’s commitment to the common good.
“If you want to think about the common good—the idea that you are creating opportunity for a student who wouldn’t have it otherwise is hugely important to me,” he said.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn said that the College’s financial aid program has become one of its strongest selling points.
“I think his view of Bowdoin and what Bowdoin means as a college, why Bowdoin exists, is to provide opportunity, and so at the level of inspiration, that message is really important for us to be able to communicate,” he said.
Mills’ commitment to financial aid is not just a message for the Office of Admissions, however. It has a real impact on how Admissions operates.
“I’ve just been in northern California for a week, and there’s not one student I met there—including a group of students at a 100 percent first-generation school in East Palo Alto—there’s not one student I met where I have to express any reservation about their opportunity to come here, because Barry and others have ensured that we have the resources to hold the door open,” Meiklejohn said.The no-loans policy
Mills has been able to oversee a dramatic expansion of financial aid largely because of his success as a fundraiser and the strong performances of Bowdoin’s endowment over the last decade.
“We were able to succeed partly because people recognized that what we were doing was important for the students, important for the future for the school,” Mills said, “and we were able to succeed because we were able to raise the money to do it and because the endowment grew.”
Mills said that donors came to recognize the importance of financial aid because it was a priority—something that he reminded them about repeatedly. He joked that he spoke about aid so often that he sounded “like a broken record.” Broken record or not, his was a tune that got stuck in donor’s heads.
“When I came I was told financial aid money is very hard to raise,” he said. “Interestingly I found financial aid money is the easiest money to raise, and in many cases I’ve had donors who we’ve asked to do other things who would have preferred to give money to financial aid.”
Fundraising successes allowed Mills to increase his goals for financial aid. When his presidency began, he spoke about the irresponsibility of abandoning the College’s need-blind admissions policy. Seven years later, he had a far more ambitious goal in mind: adopting a policy of meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need without loans.
Bowdoin announced its no-loans initiative in January 2008. At the time, it was one of the only colleges with an endowment of less than one billion dollars to commit to no loans. Mills had worked with members of the Board of Trustees to help them understand why it was the right choice for the College.
Meiklejohn said that Mills had led the push for the no-loans policy.
“At a time when the college had the resources to expand its financial aid support and to go no-loan and to throw even more energy and commitment to low-income, first-generation students, Barry was the right person to galvanize the community around that and push Bowdoin even further ahead,” he said.
The policy has made financial aid available to middle class families, many of whom struggle to afford college as its cost keeps rising. According to Meiklejohn, there are currently 433 students from households with incomes over $90,000 who receive financial aid—about half of all aid recipients. Mills said that there are families on the higher end of the economic spectrum—even those at the bottom of the one percent—who have difficulty paying for college and deserve support.
As the country went into a deep recession in late 2008, the expensive no-loans initiative was adding to the College’s financial stress, but Mills felt that it was a policy worth maintaining.
“I’m proud to say we maintained the no loans. We didn’t lay anybody off; everybody kept their jobs,” he said. “The College got through that period with a lot of shared sacrifice where faculty and staff agreed to freeze salaries for a couple of years in order to allows us to maintain our commitments both to our employees and to the students.”Diversity
The no-loans policy has helped the College become a more diverse place, not only in terms of its socioeconomic composition, but also in terms of its geographic and racial composition.
According to the College’s Common Data Set, there were 50 black students, 50 Hispanic students and 1,295 white students enrolled during the 2001-2002 academic year. This year, 229 students identify as Hispanic, 88 as black, 1,147 as white, and 117 as non-Hispanic members of two or more races.
The College has also drawn more and more students from outside of New England, a trend that started before Mills’ tenure but has accelerated in recent years.
“The goal always was to make the school look like America—that meant racial diversity; that meant economic diversity; that meant diversity of view—and we succeeded in doing that to a point,” Mills said. “There’s always more work to be done.”
Mills said that these forms of diversity are important to the College’s mission to prepare its students to be leaders. He and Meiklejohn both said that after graduating, students will have to navigate a world where people have different viewpoints and backgrounds, and that a diverse student body is excellent preparation for that world.
“Creating a community that is more cosmopolitan, more diverse in the broadest sense, was essential, I think, to the future of the College,” Mills said. “We recognized that in order to bring people from different parts of the United States to the College, including racial diversity, we needed to put more money behind financial aid.”
Approval ratings: Spring 2015 approval ratings survey results
An unnecessary minority: female underrepresentation in STEM fields
The three of us are fortunate to attend a college where the intellectual climate allows us to express our opinions in an open and public way. For this reason, we intend to share our individual experiences as women majoring in Computer Science and Physics, two of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines where women are underrepresented. Both of these disciplines significantly affect our day-to-day lives at Bowdoin and beyond in a world changed every day by science and technology.
While women in STEM are just one type of underrepresentation at Bowdoin, we do not raise the issue of women in these departments as a more important issue than others. Instead, we share our own experiences to bring to light the importance of addressing all types of underrepresentation by using the STEM fields as an example of that profound inequality.
Comparing statistics from the National Science Foundation of women receiving degrees in Math, Computer Science, and Physics to Bowdoin’s Institutional Research/Analytics data about Fall 2014 declared majors and minors, we found that Bowdoin is on par with national statistics. At Bowdoin, 23.5 percent of computer science majors, 32.5 percent of math majors, and 18.8 percent of physics majors are women. According to data from the National Science Foundation, in 2012, 18.2 percent of Computer Science undergraduate degrees were awarded to women. In 2013, 42 percent of Math undergraduate degrees and 19.5 percent of Physics undergraduate degrees were awarded to women. It is important to recognize that with the small size of these three departments at Bowdoin, particularly with Physics, these percentages are subject to large fluctuations. Nevertheless, Bowdoin lines up with national statistics.
Yet what is happening on the ground—in class, in dorms, at dinner—is different. While our experiences have been largely positive in our fields of study at Bowdoin, we have also each experienced the implications of being a gender minority in the classroom. For example, when one of us expressed excitement that we had finished applications for summer research, a male peer responded, “Don’t worry, you’ll get one because you’re a girl.” This is an example of a microaggression, which is “a form of unintended discrimination.” Sentiments like this are expressed to all kinds of minorities both inside and outside of the classroom and have the ability to make students question whether they deserve their place in their field of study. This is important to recognize as a campus. We want to see departments begin conversations to develop healthier cultures, where students of all genders, races, ethnicities, sexualities, and abilities feel that they hold a valuable place.
There is no a clear reason why these microaggressions exist, though discussions to address these issues are taking place nationwide. Bowdoin has consistently been a leader regarding many high profile issues in colleges both socially, as with our hard alcohol and sexual assault policies, and academically, in regards to the Digital and Computational Studies initiative. When we look around our campus, we know how capable each Bowdoin student is. With that in mind, we also know that the Bowdoin community will continue to be a leader for women in STEM. With this piece, we ask you to join us in our work to actively address this underrepresentation.
In discussions with peers and faculty members throughout the last year, we have realized not only how much work has been done, but also how much work is being done behind the scenes to overcome issues of gender inequality. We have found so many members of the community seeking not only to improve the experience for people of all genders at Bowdoin, but also beyond our campus. This great work and related advancement, however, do not change the fact that there is still a minority of women in STEM at Bowdoin. If we all represent Bowdoin and are all working toward the common good, any unnecessary minority must be recognized, and we are bringing a public, student voice to the role of women within that space.
We recognize that women and other minorities in these disciplines have different experiences. Even our own experiences have varied. While some women are not aware of the underrepresentation of women in STEM until explicitly told, others struggle with it regularly. We hope to empower women as members of the College and as members of their respective departments. Seek support in faculty, staff and peers, but also seek support in your own successes—there are certainly many of them.
Maddie Bustamante and Roya Moussapour are members of the Class of 2017. Grace Handler is a member of the Class of 2017 and the Orient’s web editor.
Interactive: A guide to the 2015 housing lottery
The interactive map above highlights housing options for upperclassmen. Hover over a location to see what rooms are available in that building, a list of pro tips, and photos of select dorm rooms. Full blueprints of each building are also available.
Lottery dates and 2014 results:
Quints and quads: Tuesday, April 14 -Chamberlain quads filled first between the 1st and 20th picks -Harpswell quads filled second between the 20th and 40th picks -Coles Tower quads filled third between the 40th and 60th picks -Cleaveland St. quads filled fourth between the 60th and the endChem free: Thursday, April 16 -52 Harpswell filled first between the 1st and 30th picks -Smith House filled second between the 30th and 60th picks -Mayflower Apartments doubles filled third between the 60th and 80th picks -School Street filled fourth between the 80th and the endTriples and singles: Monday, April 20 (Triples lottery is first) -Cleaveland Street Apartments filled first between the 1st and 20th picks -Brunswick Apartments two-bedroom triples filled second between the 20th and 40th picks -Coles Tower triples filled third between the 40th and 53th picksTriples and singles: Monday, April 20 (Singles lottery is second) -Stowe Inn singles filled first between the 80th and 93rd picks -Chamberlain Hall singles filled second between the 93rd and the end -Coles Tower filled third between the 93rd and the endDoubles and open rooms: Wednesday, April 22 -Brunswick doubles filled first between the 64th and 76th picks -Osher and West doubles filled between the 76th and 89th picks
All lotteries begin at 6 p.m. in Daggett Lounge. Lottery numbers are emailed and posted outside the ResLife office by 3 p.m. on the day of the lottery.
To get updates during each lottery, follow @BowdoinResLife on Twitter.
For more information about the lottery, go to bowdoin.edu/reslife.
Illustration by Anna Hall.
On campus, political correctness is a growing concern
Sixty eight percent of respondents to a recent survey conducted by a class taught by Associate Professor of Government Michael Franz indicated that they believe that political correctness is a ‘problem at Bowdoin currently.’
The respondents represented an even distribution of class years and genders, and were numerous enough to represent the broader Bowdoin community.
Students’ individual definitions of political correctness vary, but the survey indicates that students are unhappy about the level of political correctness on campus. Some students the Orient spoke with argued for political correctness, while others said that it has become difficult to voice a minority opinion on campus.
“It seems to me that people have this idea that there is this pervasive force among Bowdoin students that is the language police,” said James Jelin ’16, who writes a column for the Orient. “And if you say anything that doesn’t gel with the currents of appropriateness that you’re suddenly going to be exiled from the Bowdoin community.”
The survey also asked about Cracksgiving and the Inappropriate Party, two recent events that have sparked discussion about the necessity of political correctness. Twenty seven percent of respondents approved of the way the College handled Cracksgiving, 47 percent did not approve, and 25 percent felt they did not have enough information to say. Thirty eight percent of respondents indicated that “students in Ladd House unfortunately caved to pressure from Res Life,” 17 percent believe the Ladd house residents “made the right call,” 37 percent said that they “see the merits of both sides” and eight percent said that they did not have enough information to decide.
Director of the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity Kate Stern feels that the limited discussion surrounding these events is the bigger issue.
“I think people use the term political correctness like a stop sign and then we don’t go past that,” Stern said. “We don’t talk about what the impact was of Cracksgiving on our Native American students. We just talk about the administration being politically correct. But we’re not getting to that next step.”
Yet many students, divided on whether political correctness is a necessary roadblock, find it difficult to get to this next step. Since Cracksgiving and the cancellation of the Inappropriate Party, students have debated whether political correctness protects people or stifles them, or whether it does both.
“[I think it’s] everyone’s responsibility to engage in conversation and to promote a space where political correctness doesn’t inhibit, but also protects those it is meant to protect,” Michelle Kruk ’16 said. “I don’t think that being politically correct necessarily means censorship.”
Debate about Yik Yak mirrors the debate about political correctness, particularly in regards to censorship. Some believe that Yik Yak provides a platform for students to speak their minds freely and voice potentially unpopular opinions.
“People feel more inclined to speak their minds when you don’t have to sign your name after it. If you feel comfortable speaking up for yourself there, then I would say go for it,” said Ned Wang ’18.
Stern agreed that the lower stakes of anonymous forums can make them attractive to students.
“I think part of the PC backlash—which I agree with—is that if we just don’t say it because we’re not allowed to say it, it doesn’t change how we’re thinking,” Stern said. “That feeling of I can’t say it, but I’m still thinking it, drives the conversation to Yik Yak.”
Some people however, believe that Yik Yak too easily allows for hurtful comments to be made. In a recent column in the Orient, Vee Fyer-Morrel ’15 warned that Yik Yak has led to particularly harmful comments with regard to body image, allowing people to “lash out from behind the anonymous comfort of a screen.”
The anonymity of Yik Yak is lost in the classroom, and some believe that political correctness is a problem there. Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies Tess Chakkalakal encourages “lively debate” in her classes, yet often finds political correctness hindering discussion.
“I think that disagreement, debate, argument, is an important part not only of an academic institution like Bowdoin College but also of a democracy,” Chakkalakal said. “I encourage disagreement and I worry that political correctness forces us to all agree, which I believe, and according to that survey, we do not. We have differences of opinion that I believe should be voiced respectfully—but voiced and not stifled.”
Between Bowdoin Climate Action’s (BCA) sit-ins and the Ferguson die-ins, activists on campus have been busy, and their visibility has perhaps increased attention on issues of open discussion. Some students attributed the problem of political correctness to campus activists.
“I think a lot of the activists on campus are the biggest offenders,” Nick Mansfield ’17 said. “The people who think they are the most liberal, free-thinking people are the most intolerant ones. Most of the ones I’ve encountered have no desire to negotiate or understand the opposing viewpoint at all.”
Mansfield cited hostility toward people who take a pro-life stance as an example of liberal students taking an intolerant position.
“If you’re pro-life at Bowdoin you would get shot down in a hailstorm of bullets,” he said. “No one would really respect that viewpoint even though you’re perfectly entitled to it and you might have your reasons for it.”
Hayley Nicholas ’17 said she believes such a sentiment is a result of a lack of communication on campus.
“I don’t think it’s the activism itself [perpetuating this divide]. It’s the lack of communication,” she said.
Nicholas referred to BCA as an example of a group failing to communicate.
“The only problem that I have with BCA is that they realize that there’s a huge disconnect on campus between students who want to divest and students who don’t, and I feel like they haven’t been trying to bridge that gap,” she said.
Yet Nicholas was careful not to attribute political correctness to activism.
“I think people confuse the terms activism and political correctness,” she said. “They think they’re one and the same.”
Jelin said he thinks the lack of communication can be characterized differently. He believes that campus discussion has become too one sided and that opposing voices are plentiful but simply hesitant to engage.
“I think that all of the people who disagree with this primary dialogue, they’re just not talking about it. Nobody else is writing letters to the editor in the Orient, nobody else is holding rallies,” Jelin said. “I think that there’s this fallacy that everyone at Bowdoin believes these things when really it’s just a small but vocal minority.”
The survey’s results seem to support Jelin’s theory, since the majority of students declared themselves unsatisfied with the current state of discussion. Chakkalakal said that the discourse should be elevated, but not by the administration.
“I don’t think it’s the administration’s responsibility,” Chakkalakal said. “I think it’s the students’. I put it on you.”
Editor's note: The story originally stated that 69 percent of students think that political correctness is a problem at Bowdoin. That number was in fact 68 percent.
Interactive: Transports at Bowdoin
Volent remains highest-paid non-president in the NESCAC
Senior Vice President of Investments Paula Volent remained the highest paid Bowdoin employee for the 2012 calendar year. She earned $1,267,519 in total, according to the College’s most recently available Form 990 for the compensation of its top employees. Volent received a 45 percent increase from 2011 to 2012, and has been the highest-compensated employee at Bowdoin since the 2007 fiscal year, when the Orient reported that her salary surpassed that of President Barry Mills.
Consistent with past years, Mills was the second highest-paid employee in 2012, earning a base pay of $413,029 with $88,126 of additional compensation, for a total compensation figure of $501,155. His compensation increased by .26 percent between 2011 and 2012.
“If you look at my compensation, it’s a lot lower than a lot of other college presidents,” said Mills. “You’ll see that I receive non-cash compensations and imputed benefits, such as the house I live in.”
At other NESCAC schools, the president is traditionally the highest-paid employee. Compared to the presidential compensation at the 11 other NESCAC institutions, Mills’ pay once again ranked ninth, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Executive Compensation at Private Colleges database.
Only Connecticut College’s then-President Leo Higdon, who earned $418,916, earned less than Mills at a standard compensation rate. A. Clayton Spencer, who served as President of Bates College for less than year when she was appointed in 2012, earned $322,708.
“We do look competitively to see how we pay compensation compared to other places, and if our compensation is way out of line, then sometimes we make adjustments,” Mills said.
Williams was the only other NESCAC school where an administrator other than the president, Chief Investment Officer Collette Chilton, was the highest-compensated employee. In 2012, Volent surpassed Chilton as the highest-paid non-president employee in the NESCAC.
In 2012, Volent earned $1,267,519 compared to Chilton’s $890,960. Mills attributed the large increase in Volent’s pay to her ability to successfully grow the College’s endowment. At the end of 2012, the College’s net assets or fund balances amounted to $1,218,293,000.
“The increase in the endowment is certainly something we’re very, very proud of, and a big reason that our endowment is the success that it is because of Paula,” Mills said. “We make sure that she is compensated competitively with others in her field, and the success of our endowment is linked to our desire to pay her competitively.”
The remaining three of the top five compensated employees after Volent and Mills were, in order, former Secretary of the College William Torrey, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Catherine Longley, and Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Kelly Kerner.
Torrey, who left the College in 2011, had a 51 percent decrease of his compensation between 2011 and 2012. In 2012, however, his compensation of $365,309 once again reflected his 2010 salary.
“In some instances there are some people on that list who have left the college in those years, and in some instances their compensation could look higher because of long standing arrangements they may have had with the College when they left for many, many years of service,” said Mills.
Two professors were on the list of the 13 top-paid employees: Professor of Natural Sciences Patsy Dickinson and Professor of Art Mark Wethli. Dickinson remained the highest-paid professor in 2012, earning $217,651.
Mills stated that it is important that Bowdoin’s compensation for its employees, both in the administration and on the faculty, remain competitive.
Applications drop 2.4% for the Class of 2019
Despite fewer applicants, overall number of Early Decision applications increased.
Between Early Decision I (ED I), Early Decision II (ED II) and regular decision candidates for the Class of 2019, the Office of Admissions has received a total of 6,765 applications to the College this year, down 170 from last year.
However, the overall number of ED I and ED II applications increased. Six hundred and sixty six ED 1, 287 ED II and 5,812 regular decision applications were received. ED I applications were up by 68 and ED II applications were up by 34 from last year. While those numerical increases are small, they represent substantial growth percentages in the ED I and II applicant pools.
Two hundred and eight applicants were accepted ED I this year for an admittance rate of 31 percent, a number that is substantially higher than Bowdoin’s overall acceptance rate of around 14 percent.
The Office of Admissions is currently reading and evaluating ED II and regular decision applications. ED II decisions will be announced in the middle of February and regular decisions will be announced in early April.
“We have passed the January first deadline so we have all of our applications in, but we are in the process of reading them at this time,” said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn. “We are currently busy getting a sense of the applicants. Everyone is plowing through the applications. We are just starting to get a sense of the applicant pool.”
According to Meiklejohn, this year’s numbers do not represent a significant change from previous application pools. Bowdoin received a record 7,052 applications for the class of 2017 and 6,935 applications for the Class of 2018. The acceptance rate has hovered between 13 and 15 percent over the past three years.
“These numbers are very similar to last year’s numbers. A difference of 170 is a blip. I think that our quality of doing business has remained the same as in previous years.”
According to Meiklejohn, Admissions has high hopes for an incoming class.
“Our job is to deliver to Bowdoin a very exciting group of people in August. The College has high aspirations for its students. Our job is to find smart, talented, diverse students.”
Approval ratings: Approval ratings remain high but down from last year
Interactive: Orient election survey 2014 results
Endowment returns 19.2 percent, named Endowment of the Year
The College’s endowment generated an investment return of 19.2 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2014, again earning Bowdoin a place in the top five percent of returns among peer colleges and universities, according to Cambridge Associates (a firm that tracks educational funds’ performances across the nation). The endowment had a market value of $1.216 billion on June 30, up from $1.038 billion at the close of FY 2013.
The return, which is heavily dependent on the health of the economy, was three percentage points higher than it was last year.
The endowment’s strong performance earned Bowdoin the “Endowment of the Year” award from Institutional Investor—a global finance magazine—in a category of nominees that included Williams, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Richmond. U-Penn generated a return of 17.5 percent in FY 2014, while Williams and Richmond have yet to release their returns.
“Looking at year-to-year performance and winning [Endowment of the Year] is very exciting,” said President Barry Mills. “But the real story is in the three-, five- and ten-year returns, because that tells you with some certainty what you can expect over a long period of time, which allows you to think about how you operate the College. So it’s incredibly impressive that we are year-in and year-out in that very highest category, but what’s even more impressive is that when the markets fall, we don’t lose as much as other people do. That is phenomenal.”
Mills also stressed that excellent returns on the endowment still mandate strict financial prudence with regard to strategic planning.
“We’re not running an investment fund, we’re running an endowment to support the College—you have to match the way the College operates against the strength of the endowment, and that’s what we’ve done,” he said. “It’s a complicated balance, because in these colleges and universities, everybody wants to spend every nickel they have.”
Strong returns on the endowment are more important over the long-run in order to preserve capital and sustain the operations of the College. To cover a proportion of each year’s operating expenses, Bowdoin annually withdraws about five percent of its endowment based on a 12-quarter lagging average to compensate for particularly rough years, such as 2009’s 16.99 percent decline on investment returns. According to a release published on the Bowdoin Daily Sun, at the close of FY 2014, the endowment’s three-, five-and 10-year annualized returns were 12.3 percent, 13.8 percent, and 10.4 percent, respectively.
Now that the weaker returns of the financial crisis have cycled out of the 12-quarter lagging average, funding from the endowment for each year’s operating budget will likely increase “over the next to two to five years,” according to Mills.
“You could use that money for debt service, if you needed a capital project—I think some of our students might say that our upperclass housing might need some improvement… There’s additional academic programing we could enhance, so we could spend the money on that. There are plenty of places to spend the money. My hope would be the first place people would think is to understand what our financial aid commitment ought to be, and continue to grow it,” said Mills, acknowledging a commitment throughout his tenure to increasing the affordability of a Bowdoin education.
The endowment’s continued strength, thanks to the impressive performance of the College’s investment committee, is also central to minimizing increases in tuition and fees each year. Since the 2011-2012 academic year, Bowdoin’s comprehensive fee has increased annually by just 3 percent, a rate lower than at most peer institutions. The comprehensive fee for FY 2014-2015 is $59,568, but Mills emphasized that the actual cost of educating a student for a year at Bowdoin is actually closer to $80,000. Financial aid from the endowment is one of the key means of managing that discrepancy.
“The 80 [thousand dollars] I think is going to increase. The question is going to be, ‘What are we going to do with the 60?’ That’s why the endowment is so important, is to close that gap,” said Mills. “I think what you’re going to see is that at colleges that have very healthy endowments, more and more and more families in higher and higher income brackets are going to be supported, because these colleges are just so expensive… but, you’ve got to balance your checkbook.”
The Bowdoin Daily Sun release also reported $24.1 million in endowment gifts during FY 2014. Approximately 45 percent of the endowment can be used only as financial aid. In his last year as president, Mills is embarking on a final fundraising campaign for endowment gifts dedicated to financial aid with a goal of around $100 million.
“I came to Bowdoin fourteen years ago, when our endowment was less than 400 million dollars,” said Mills. “Having an endowment the size that we have today has clearly allowed us to support our students and families in ways that we couldn’t in the past on the financial aid front. It’s allowed us to grow our academic program, it’s allowed us to improve our facility…and so as I’ve said often, it isn’t about the money. But without the money, it’s very hard to create a sustainable program for the College.”
INFOGRAPHIC: Heat to be turned on next week, a look at the statistics
INFOGRAPHIC: Percentage of students with Pell Grants 2012-2014
Interactive: First year students arrive on campus from 16 different countries
Cool campus gigs
The lowdown on the best student employment opportunities
New town, College parking rules frustrate student drivers
In late August, the Brunswick Town Council passed an ordinance approving a two-hour parking limit and restricted overnight parking on Park Row from Gustafson House to College Street. The new regulations, which affect approximately 20 parking spaces, are the newest restrictions in a string of added rules designed to limit long-term parking on and adjacent to campus.
According to Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols, the recent town ordinance reflected Bowdoin’s concern that there was not enough vehicle turnover on the section of Park Row.
“That critical stretch of Park Row, which has such convenient access to so many college facilities, was locked up—pretty much day and night—mostly by student vehicles. People could camp out there for extended periods of time,” he said.
According to Captain Mark Waltz of the Brunswick Police Department, the College approached the town with the idea of instituting the two-hour limit and the overnight parking restriction.
The College has not only made clear that it is dedicated to promoting a walking campus where people are encouraged to travel on foot, but also to providing more convenient parking spaces for campus visitors. This reasoning was instrumental in Bowdoin’s decision to convert certain student parking lots into visitor, faculty and staff lots.
The College announced in February that it would make significant changes to parking on campus, including prohibiting students from using 63 spaces in the College House parking lots along Maine Street during weekdays business hours.
In 2012, the College converted the parking lot on Coffin Street—formerly available for student use—into a lot solely for faculty, staff and visitors.
For students with cars on campus, the Town of Brunswick ordinance and the College’s new parking rules have dramatically reduced where and for how long students can park in central campus locations. Some students expressed concerns that their mobility will be hampered because of the changes.
The only remaining student lots are peripheral to the main campus, with the majority of the student population now parking at Farley Field House and Watson Arena.
“At this time of the year, I am perfectly fine biking, but I live on Pleasant Street,” said Denis Maguire ’15. “In the winter, I would like a place to park that is convenient to class. As it stands now, the eight-minute walk from Farley to the Quad almost negates the drive I had to take to get on campus.”
The cost of Bowdoin parking decals is another concern that has been raised by some students who have cars on campus. The charge of $20 per semester seems high to those who believe that the reduction in student spaces has eroded the value of the decals.
“If there are fewer places we can park, the price should go way down,” said Amanda Kinneston ’15.
Many students living in College Houses on Maine Street have voiced disappointment that they cannot park in their house lots.
“I’m really frustrated by the no-student parking rule at Helmreich House,” said Beth Findley ’16, a resident of the House. “I don’t even think faculty would feel comfortable parking here, and that is displayed by the fact that our lot is empty all day.”
Kinneston questioned whether making more lots available to faculty and staff is truly necessary.
“It’s not like we’re hiring more faculty and staff,” said Kinneston. “If anything, we’re accepting more students, and they will eventually need more parking in the future.”
Kinneston lives in Brunswick Apartments, which has a large student parking lot. However, she reported that the lot is now frequently at capacity because of the new regulations. Nichols acknowledges that the campus parking changes have mainly affected students, but defended the new limitations.
“Unfortunately, students are probably the most inconvenienced,” he said. “If you live in Quinby House, it’s nice to be able to park right outside of your bedroom window. I understand that. But it’s simply not practical for the smooth operation of the College.”
Interactive: President Mills to depart next spring after 14 years
The Board of Trustees will form a search committee by its next meeting on May 8 to select the College’s 15th president.
President Barry Mills announced on Monday that he plans to step down at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. Mills has been president since 2001.
“Transitions are inevitable, and after what will be 14 tremendous years as president, I believe it is time for me to make way for new leadership to propel Bowdoin into its next period of greatness,” Mills wrote in an email to campus.
In an interview with the Orient, Mills said that he came to the decision in March. He notified the Board of Trustees of his decision on Monday morning, followed by an email to the campus.
In 2011, Mills told the Orient that he would stay at the College for at least five more years, making his departure in 2015 a year earlier than expected.
Mills graduated from Bowdoin in 1972 with a double major in Government and Biochemistry. He holds a Ph.D in Biology from Syracuse University and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. He was a partner at the New York-based law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP before assuming his position at Bowdoin.
He has been popular among students, with approval ratings in Orient surveys consistently above 90 percent.
“Barry’s been a really remarkable leader for this place,” said Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster. “I don’t think I know anyone who has such passion for Bowdoin. You take his strategic mind and his relentless drive and his high aspirations for this place, and it’s quite extraordinary to see what’s been accomplished.”
Mills has also proven an effective fundraiser, helping to grow the endowment from $433.2 million in his first year in office to $1.03 billion in 2013. The amout of money the College puts toward financial aid has more than doubled during his tenure—from $14.6 million (unadjusted for inflation) in 2001 to $32.3 million in 2013.
Mills is currently the second longest serving president in the NESCAC. Colby’s William D. Adams has been in office since 2000, but plans to retire at the end of this year. Mills’ tenure is the longest for a Bowdoin president since James Coles, who was in office from 1952 to 1967. Overall, Mills’s length of tenure will rank sixth-longest of 14 Bowdoin presidents.
Few members of the Bowdoin community knew of Mills’ plans before Monday.
“Everyone knew this day would come, but it was a surprise,” said Foster.
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley said she “was hoping it wouldn’t be this soon.”
Mills said the timing of his announcement was meant to give the Board of Trustees enough time to start thinking about the transition in time for its annual meeting in May. The Board now has 14 months to find a successor and prepare for the transition.
Chair of the Board of Trustees Deborah Barker said that the committee is going to revisit Bowdoin’s mission, and think about where the College is currently headed, and then draft a job opening based on these considerations.
“A president needs to be everything,” she said. “He needs to be a chief executive—or she does—a politician, a leader and a fundraiser.”
Barker said that the Trustees hope to approve a search committee at their meeting on May 7 and 8.
“That’s the most important responsibility the Trustees have,” Foster said. “We have a stellar board, and they’ll get it right.”
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) President Sarah Nelson ’14 sent an email to rising juniors and seniors Wednesday night inviting them to apply to represent the student body on the search committee. According to Barker, the board has reached out to all constituent groups—students, faculty, and alumni—to find potential committee members.
Mills said he does not plan on being involved in the search process.
“It’s not wise for a person to be involved in choosing their successor, so it will be up to that committee and the trustees to find a new president,” he said.
He cited the College’s stability as the main reason for his decision to depart a year earlier than he had planned.
“It’s not a lot earlier,” he said. “I recognize I’ve been here a long time. Fourteen years is a long time to be a college president, and the transition is going to be somewhat challenging for the school. My own view is that it’s important to allow a place to go through a challenging point when it’s in an incredibly good position.”
Mills also emphasized the importance of a president’s commitment to a long tenure.“It’s an incredibly good time for the College,” he said. “It deserves a new leader who is going to have a run rate of 10 to 15 years.”
For now, Mills said he is focusing on his remaining time at Bowdoin.
“Lots of people have asked me to reflect on the past, and I’m actually not interested in reflecting on the past right now. I’m interested in thinking about the future,” he said.
He listed fundraising for the College’s financial aid endowment, supporting the Digital and Computational Studies program, and promoting the Coastal Studies Center as top priorities for his remaining time at Bowdoin.
As for his plans after Bowdoin, Mills said that his decision to step down should not be interpreted as a retirement—though he does not plan to practice law again.
“I don’t want to retire,” he said. “I have a lot more years ahead of me where I think I can be incredibly effective and energetic and successful. And so I’m open to all kinds of opportunities.”News Analysis
President Mills’ Monday morning announcement came relatively abruptly, but it was a coordinated effort. Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood said he learned of Mills’ plans in a “number of conversations over the weekend.”
“The first order of business once he had made his decision was to tell his bosses—the Board of Trustees,” said Hood.
After informing senior staff members of the decision individually, Mills placed a conference call to the trustees at 11 a.m.
An email announcement to staff, students and faculty came half an hour later, followed by an email from Debbie Barker ’80, chair of the Board of Trustees. Hood said that both of those emails were written over the weekend, and were not edited by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs beyond simple copy-editing.
After Mills’ email, Hood said, his office “took over with getting the word out.” The Bowdoin Daily Sun quickly posted online and promoted it on the College’s social media channels. The article was also sent in an email to alumni, parents, and the widows of alumni.
“The biggest challenge is making sure that things happen fast enough, so that you’re not leaving people out, so that they’re not hearing it in ways other than what we would prefer, which is from the College,” said Hood. “It was all done in 40 minutes.”
“Bowdoin students are very technologically savvy,” he added. “We knew that as soon as that email went out, it’d be out on Twitter. And it was.”
Mills himself was also involved in the social media blitz, posting a photo taken during the conference call to his personal Instagram account after the call ended.
“This was all Barry,” Hood said. “We’re sitting there, the phone call’s going on, and he hands his phone to one of the senior officers and says, ‘Take a picture!’”
Full professor salaries up 2.9% in third straight year with increase
Professors’ salaries increased for the third straight year in 2013-2014. From 2009-2010 to 2010-2011, the College froze salaries in response to a 17 percent loss in the endowment during the recession.
Additionally, the College has reinstated the 4-5-6 policy for salary increases, which was suspended during the freeze. This policy makes the percentage increase in the amount of money for salary increases at each level of professorship equal to the three-year lagging average of percentage salary increases at the colleges ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in Bowdoin’s 18-school peer group (selected by the Board of Trustees).
Despite the recovery of the endowment, the College had to wait until this year to reinstate its 4-5-6 policy because so many of its peer colleges reduced or froze professor salaries during the recession, which rendered the calculations inapplicable. According to Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd, the policy ensures that Bowdoin can offer competitive salaries.
“It’s important to recognize where our aspirations are in terms of the placement of our faculty compensation relative to our peers,” Judd said.Bowdoin is 11th among liberal arts colleges in terms of salaries paid to full professors, according to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education.Full professors at Bowdoin now make, on average, $135,067 per year, up from $131,300 last year, according to notes from the faculty meeting on April 7.
The average pay raise for full professors was 2.9 percent, according to the Chronicle.
“We’ve been fortunate because we’ve been able to give reasonable increases but I think for everyone faculty salary increases in the 2 to 3.5 percent range are smaller than the rate of increases of faculty salaries prior to 2008,” said Judd.
Last year, average salaries for associate professors salaries were raised from $94,900 to $96,858, and for assistant professors, from $74,300 to $76,081. Associate professors are tenured, while assistant professors are typically, although not always, on the tenure track.
Bowdoin is ranked 9th and 16th among liberal arts schools for salaries of associate and assistant professors, respectively, according to data from the Chronicle.
Interactive: A guide to the 2014 housing lottery
Interactive: 14.8% acceptance rate for Class of 2018; up 0.3 percentage points
Regular decision acceptance letters for the Class of 2018 were sent out via email last Friday. Of the 6,048 Regular Decision applicants, 756 were admitted, for an acceptance rate of 12.4 percent. Overall, 1,032 students were admitted for a total acceptance rate of 14.8 percent (including Early Decision applicants.) Last year, the Orient reported a 14.5 percent acceptance rate.
Applications for the Class of 2018 went down 1.6 percent from last year, when there were 7,052 total applicants to the Class of 2017. This year, 6,935 total students applied.
According to Dean of Admissions and Student Aid Scott Meiklejohn, despite the slight decrease in applicants, the Class of 2018 was drawn from “exactly the same pool” as in previous years.
“Numerically, it was a hundred fewer, but it didn’t make much difference in admitting the class,” he said.
Applications from the South and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States as well as foreign countries increased, while those from New England and the West decreased. Those from the Southwest and Midwest remained roughly the same.
Applications from multicultural students also increased 10 percent, and there was a six percent increase in the number of high schools sending Bowdoin at least one applicant.
Meiklejohn expressed enthusiasm for the increased number of high schools, saying it demonstrated Bowdoin’s “increasing geographic reach.”
There were 524 women and 508 men admitted, a figure consistent with Bowdoin’s current gender ratio. According to Meiklejohn, the ratio of public to private schools also remained consistent. Currently, 58 percent of Bowdoin students attended public high school; 42 percent went to private school.
The target size for the Class of 2018 is 495 students, the same as for the Class of 2017, and admitted students must submit their decisions by May 1.
Video: Common Good Day 2013