It is 5:00 p.m., and the sun is just beginning to set here in Maine. This is a huge improvement for us Mainers, as we are a sunlight-deprived lot from November through February. In fact, this is the biggest difference I find in the climate between New York and Maine. It gets dark early in the winter up here. Of course, winter is not yet behind us. We have a ton of snow, it is frigid outside, and there is ice everywhere. Just check out the Bowdoin webcam. We are a sea of white. But there is hope as I sit here watching this brilliant Maine sunset from my office in Hawthorne-Longfellow library (even if it’s not quite time to take out the golf clubs).
…in thinking about the future, we remember the success of the past and especially the recent past.
As you might imagine, I have been thinking a great deal about the future of the College, particularly the next five years and beyond. I have written extensively over the past few months about college economics and the near-term opportunities and challenges. Of course, in thinking about the future, we remember the success of the past and especially the recent past. Bowdoin is on a roll; we are very attractive to thousands of talented students who apply every year. We are nearly always able to recruit our first choice when we do faculty searches. Our faculty, in large measure, value their place at the College and the opportunities here. Our students are incredibly hard working, ambitious, and talented. Almost all of our students love the College. Their parents and families also love the College, with many coming to visit the campus often, and many to Parents Weekend all four years. Our staff is incredibly loyal and the very best. And, as I travel around the country, I am always asked about Bowdoin—the alumni of the College are the most proud alumni anywhere.
…in an environment of limited resources, we had better be sure that we don’t make decisions that detract from the trajectory we are on.
So, we have a good thing going. And as we think about the future and consider our options in an environment of limited resources, we had better be sure that we don’t make decisions that detract from the trajectory we are on.
Our current board chair, Steve Gormley ‘72, put it to me this way: “Let’s figure out what the ingredients are to ‘our secret sauce’.” I added that we also need to figure out the relative percentages of those ingredients. With this knowledge about ourselves as a College, we can then set out to think about the future.
I invite you to let us know by commenting on the BDS or by communicating with us more privately what you understand to be the “secret sauce” of Bowdoin. Unfortunately, it is not likely that I will be able to create a dialogue with each of you as you send in your ideas—I do have a College to lead. But your views as loyal readers of the BDS will be informative to us.
I will take the “low hanging fruit” ingredient: of course, it is the character and talent of the people associated with the College. Now, I want to hear from you. With this knowledge, we will have our formula and we can lock it away just like Coca Cola and Tootsie Roll.
All the very best from Maine, where the days are getting longer and the snow has begun to… (actually it hasn’t, but at least we can have hope!).
In the coming weeks, I will continue to offer my thoughts on subjects interesting to me or of importance to the College, but I want to hear your ideas too. If there is a subject you’d like me to address, send me an e-mail at email@example.com