Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen ’62 Shoots Hoops, Talks World Politics


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Before William S. Cohen ’62, H’75 became a U.S. Senator and then U.S. Secretary of Defense, he was a three-year starter for the Bowdoin basketball team, co-captaining during his senior season and leading the team in scoring his last two years. In 1962, he was recognized as All-State selection. In 2000, he was awarded the NCAA’s highest honor — the Theodore Roosevelt Award — presented annually to a distinguished citizen who is a former student-athlete exemplifying the ideals and purposes of college athletics. Touring campus for his 50th reunion, Cohen couldn’t resist returning to his old stomping grounds, stopping to shoot hoops in Sargent Gym, before revisiting the familiar turf of world politics across the Quad.

Before a capacity crowd in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center, Cohen delivered the talk, “America’s Role in an Uncertain World,” in which he spoke of topics ranging from turmoil in the Middle East — for which he prescribes a two-state solution — to the need for what he calls “the right level” of government regulation. “We have to have kind of a Goldilocks approach — not too heavy and not too light,” says Cohen.

“We’re living in a world in which the economy is globalized, and so we have things coming in from all over the world, and we have activities taking place, so the notion that you’re going to have less and less government regulation is really foolhardy. The real issue is can we have the right kind of regulation. Can we get rid of the absurd degrees of regulation — that’s where the debate should take place, not just ‘less regulation, less government, get out of our face,’ because society’s too complex for that.”


  1. Roger Tuveson '64 says:

    Sorry I missed Bill Cohen’s meaningful 50th Reunion Talk. A correction re: his basketball captain(cies?): Brad Sheridan and Pete Scott co-captained the 1960-61 Basketball Team; Ed Callahan was co-captain with Bill during the 1961-62 Hoop Season.

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