Bowdoin Trustees Honor Four Retiring Faculty Members


Four Bowdoin faculty members were elected to emeritus status during the May 11-12, 2012 meeting of the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees. Thomas Cornell was elected Richard E. Steele Artist-in-Residence Emeritus; Jane Knox was elected Professor Russian Emerita; James McCalla was elected Associate Professor of Music Emeritus; and Craig McEwen was elected Daniel B. Fayerweather Professor of Political Economy and Sociology Emeritus.


Tom Cornell, the Richard E. Steele Professor of Studio Art, arrived at Bowdoin in 1962 to establish a visual arts program with a strong foundation in perceptual drawing and painting. Known in his early career for his drawings and etchings, Cornell has dedicated himself primarily to painting since the 1970s. His work uses the images of nature to explore modern social and environmental ethical concerns.

He has shown his work in nearly 20 solo exhibitions and more than three dozen group exhibitions, including the first group exhibition of American art shown in the Soviet Union.

In 1987, Cornell began his Bathers series, made up of large figurative paintings presenting the human potential for living in harmony with others and with nature. The images in Bathers depict people interacting without being inhibited by the stereotypes of age, gender, class or race. In particular, they show men tenderly caring for young children, a theme rarely found in Western art.

A graduate of Amherst College, Cornell studied for a year at Yale School of Art and Architecture. He has won numerous grants, fellowships and awards for his work, including grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Ford Foundation and Fulbright Institute for International Education; a National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship (currently The National Endowment for the Arts); awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters; and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. He was elected to the National Academy of Design in the early 1980s.

His Dependency on Nature and the Death of War was recently shown at The Annual: 2012 exhibition at the newly renovated National Academy Museum and School in New York City. As part of the museum’s renovation, Cornell’s name, along with other National Academy members, is carved into the ceiling of the building’s entrance.

Cornell’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Harvard and Princeton universities, Cleveland Museum of Art, Archenbach Foundation, National Museum of American Art and the Beinecke Library at Yale University.


Jane Knox, Professor of Russian and a Maine native, is an expert on Central Asian cinema.

Knox received her B.A. from Wheaton College, and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. It was at Wheaton where she fell in love with Russian literature, and was driven to study Russian so she could read the works in their original language.

Prior to Bowdoin, she worked as a translator with NASA from 1973 to 1975 during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first joint space mission between the United States and the Soviet Union and the symbolic end to the space race. In July 1975, Knox monitored a communication link between NASA and the Moscow Control Center. Sitting off-camera, she listened to the cosmonauts speaking in space and translated for Walter Cronkite during his broadcasts on CBS Evening News.

Inspired by her adopted deaf son, Knox’s research veered toward linguistics and language acquisition. In the summer of 1980, she was invited to Gallaudet College to take cued speech — a form of manual language that represents the phonemes in spoken language — and adapt it to Russian to help hearing impaired Russian children speak their own language.

Knox has received multiple grants to do research on film as a tool in nation building in the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In 2006, she received a Fulbright Scholar Award to research the youth of Kazakhstan. She also taught a four-month class, The History of American Cinema, to students in the Department of the History and Theory of Film at the Kazakhstan National Academy of the Arts. In 2009, she received a grant from the International Research Exchange to conduct research on Russian-Kazakh relations in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. In addition, she received funding from the U.S. State Department to make nine short films with Kazakh youth on what it was like growing up in Kazakhstan.

Besides her scholarly pursuits, Knox sang in the Bowdoin Chorus and plays piano. She organized and directed a Bowdoin Russian Chorus and Dance Group, as well as organized film festivals and visits from Russian artists, poets and choruses. She came to Bowdoin in 1976.


James McCalla this year donated his piano to Bowdoin’s Russwurm African American Center, with the hope that it would be well cared for and played often by students, according to Olufemi Vaughan, director of Bowdoin’s Africana Studies Program. But his generosity doesn’t stop there: McCalla enriched the Africana Studies department and the Bowdoin community with his love and knowledge of jazz, which has been the subject of many of his popular classes.

McCalla’s colleague, A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Music Mary Hunter, said, “Imaginative and compelling teaching has been at the center of Jim’s presence in the department. For many years he offered survey courses in jazz history which were regularly full. … Indeed, it was really  Jim who put jazz on the map here. … He takes a remarkable interest in his students, and keeps up with many after they have graduated.” She also said he regularly offered independent studies in jazz and popular music to students who neither majored not minored in music, but to whom music was an essential part of their lives.

Besides jazz and jazz history, McCalla’s areas of specialization include 20th-century American and French music and opera. He has written two books: Jazz: A Listener’s Guide and 20th-Century Chamber Music, as well as numerous works of criticism, program notes and articles. He also performs.

McCalla earned his bachelor of arts in French and his bachelor of music in piano performance from the University of Kansas, and his M.M. in music history and literature from New England Conservatory. He has a Ph.D. in music from the University of California, Berkeley. He studied piano with internationally known pianist and teacher Katja Andy.

In 1989, McCalla chaired a session, “Music Since 1945,” at a joint session of the American Musicology Society and the Society for Music Theory at their national conferences in Austin, Texas. In 1991, he participated in the Scholars on Stage program of the Portland Stage Company, contributing his essay, “The Voice of Jazz.”  At Bowdoin, he chaired the Committee for Gay and Lesbian Studies, which in 1999 succeeded in establishing gay and lesbian studies as a minor.

At the community level, McCalla served as a humanities scholar for the Portland Stage Company and a competition judge for the Bay Chamber Concert Society.


Craig McEwen, Daniel B. Fayerweather Professor of Political Economy and Sociology, is retiring after teaching for 37 years at Bowdoin. McEwen leaves behind a humbling legacy of contributions to Bowdoin that have transformed the college for the good.

Besides teaching, McEwen has served as dean of faculty and dean for academic affairs. In this latter position, which he held for seven years, he was instrumental in developing the McKeen Center for the Common Good, a program that bridges students’ community service with their academic courses and research, as well as encourages public scholarship by faculty. Today, pursuing the common good has become an important component of the Bowdoin student experience.

In 2004, McEwen led a sweeping overhaul of the curriculum, requiring first years to take at least one course each in mathematical, computational or statistical reasoning, the natural sciences and the arts, as well as a course exploring social differences and one focusing on international perspectives.

McEwen earned his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1967, graduating summa cum laude with highest honors in sociology, and received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. His research and commentary on mediation programs, courts and professionalism have been published widely in law reviews, social science journals and professional magazines. He is a national leader in the movement to find alternatives to the formal court system in favor of less costly, more effective mediated solutions.

He co-authored Divorce Lawyers at Work: Varieties of Professionalism in Practice (2001), which won the 2002 C. Herman Pritchett Prize by the American Political Science Association, and Mediation: Law, Policy, Practice (2004), winner of the Book Prize of the Center for Public Resources Legal Program.

McEwen was recognized in 1984 by Esquire magazine as one of “The Best of the New Generation: Men and Women Under Forty Who are Changing America” for his research on the practice of mediation to resolve legal disputes..

He received several grants from the National Science Foundation, and won numerous awards, including ones from the Maine Campus Compact, Maine Civil Liberties Union, Maine Judicial Department, Maine State Bar Association, Center for Public Resources Institute for Dispute Resolution, and New England Regional Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution. He received Bowdoin’s Alumni Award in 1999. The Bowdoin Orient recently wrote a lengthy article about him, crediting him with inspiring generations of students to study sociology. McEwen has inspired many more graduates to take on meaningful work as teachers, attorneys, social workers and activists.



  1. Thomas Carter says:

    Mr. McCalla was one of the friendliest and approachable professors I had the priviledge of taking at Bowdoin. He was very knowledgeable and even after taking his class he has always approached me warmly. He’s a great teacher whom Bowdoin will surely miss.

  2. Dian K Petty says:

    Recently, I attended screenings of the Met’s entire 2010-2011 Ring Cycle shown in HD here in Arlington, VA.
    With each act, I silently thanked James McCalla for introducing me to Wagner.
    I had the privilege of auditing his course on the Ring Cycle many years ago.
    He graciously granted me this wonderful opportunity for which I shall always be grateful.
    Congratulations and all good wishes, Jim, and thank you for your wonderful courses.
    Sincerely, Dian K Petty

  3. Walter Gans '57 says:

    Craig, I’m sorry I missed you during the inspiring reunion weekend to congratulate you on your distinguished and transformative (for Bowdoin) career.As a practicioner of alternative dispute resolution I’m constantly aware of the varied and remarkable contributions you have made and continue to make in the field. I hope our paths cross again.
    Best wishes,
    Walter G. Gans ’57

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