Bowdoin College President to Step Down in 2015


Bowdoin College President Barry Mills announced Monday that he will step down in June 2015 at the conclusion of his 14th year as head of Maine’s oldest college.

“Anyone who knows me knows how much I love leading Bowdoin, and Karen and I and our boys are proud citizens of Brunswick,” wrote Mills in an email message to Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff. “It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as president of this fantastic College, which is as strong today as in any period during its proud history. In fact, it is because of this strength and because of my affection for the College that I choose to step down next year. 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, 63, said he does not intend to retire and will seek another “professional challenge.” He noted that he has “reinvented” himself several times during his career and is “eager to see what comes next.” In his message to the Bowdoin community, Mills said his announcement would do nothing to slow progress at the liberal arts college. “There will be plenty of time later to look back on our time together, but not now,” wrote Mills. “For now, it must be full speed ahead to preserve access and opportunity, and to strive constantly for the excellence that sets Bowdoin apart.”

In The News
U.S. Senator Angus King H’07 and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud released statements about President Mills’ announcement. Read coverage in the Bangor Daily News.

In a separate message to students, faculty, and staff, the chair of Bowdoin’s Board of Trustees, Deborah Jensen Barker, praised Mills for his exceptional contributions and announced the formation of a search committee to name his successor. Barker said the committee will be named in May and will include representatives from Bowdoin’s faculty, staff, alumni, and student body. “Barry’s shoes will be tremendously difficult to fill,” said Barker, “but with thanks to his leadership, our College has never been in a stronger position. We will take on this task with gratitude for his remarkable service and with confidence in our ability to identify the very best candidate to serve as Bowdoin’s 15th president.”

A native of Rhode Island, Mills graduated in 1968 from Pilgrim High School in Warwick, RI. He was a Dean’s List student at Bowdoin, where he graduated cum laude in 1972 with a double major in biochemistry and government. He earned his doctorate in biology in 1976 at Syracuse University and his law degree at the Columbia University School of Law in 1979, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Prior to becoming Bowdoin’s 14th president in 2001, he served as deputy presiding partner of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City, one of the nation’s preeminent international law firms. His wife, Karen Gordon Mills, served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet as the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 until August 2013. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and at the Harvard Kennedy School, Beginning in July 2014, she will be a member of the Harvard Corporation, known formally as the President and Fellows of Harvard College — Harvard’s principal fiduciary governing board. The couple has three sons, William, Henry, and George, all of whom are graduates of Brunswick High School.

For additional biographical information, and downloadable photos of Barry and Karen Mills, visit the Bowdoin College website.


  1. Dick Burns '58 says:

    This may be jumping the gun a little, but thank you, Barry, for your devotion to the College and congratulations for a job well done.

    Dick Burns

  2. Your smiling face and warm heart will certainly be missed Barry, as will your committed devotion to all of your Bowdoin students; past, present and future. A million thanks for all you have done and all you will continue to do! Big hugs,

  3. Richard Jerue says:


    It’s hard to believe that the young guy I knew from Warwick would become president of Bowdoin. Congratulations on a job very well done indeed.

    Rick Jerue

  4. Abbott Sprague '77 says:

    You never retire you just go rest and give yourself time to figure out the next challenge. I am always available for golf while you are looking. Cheers Abbott

  5. Frank Taylor 67 says:

    Barry — it was always a pleasure running to you and talking about Bowdoin when I was on campus for many occasions.
    The College will miss you devoted leadership. The college has certainly done well under your stewardship.

  6. I am still staring at the computer screen after reading the news – a bittersweet announcement. You epitomize the individual who succeeds (tenfold) in accepting the challenge to leave the place in better condition than it was when he arrived. You will be missed my so many…who wish the very best in accepting the next challenge.
    All the very best, Craig

  7. Paul Grand Pre, '77 says:

    Bravo Barry! Job well done. You have made all Bowdoin alumni profoundly proud of Dear Old Alma mater.

  8. Barry,
    How quickly 14 years will have passed. The next 14 will fly by even more rapidly. It’s most difficult to be ready for those coming years.
    You have done well by Bowdoin — I hope some relationship will continue.
    Thank you.

  9. Bill Lenssen, '61 says:

    It seems only yesterday that you took over as President! Following the growth since then has been invigoratng and certainly has continued to make me a proud alumni of Bowdoin. Your presentations, often passed on by print and email, have heigh lighted the high ideals and direction of yhour administration. Congratulations on ajob well done (almost)!

  10. Keith Halloran '77 says:


  11. Barry – thank you for your incredible dedication to Bowdoin and the principles that make Bowdoin great. Truly incredible.


  12. Mike Coster--57 says:

    Bowdoin has had very few Presidents during it’s long history.
    You will be remembered as one of the “greatest”
    Thank you so much.
    Mike Coster ’57

  13. kenny slutsky says:

    congrats……take some time to work on your golf game!! :)

  14. Brace Young says:

    You have made an exdroidinary difference at Bowdoin. Thank you for everything you have done!

  15. Bill Clark '76 says:

    Barry, thank you for your extraordinary leadership. You have been one of Bowdoin’s greatest presidents. All of us are deeply grateful to you.

  16. Alan LeGrow says:

    Stunned, but very appreciative for your tremendous leadership to Bowdoin.

  17. Bob Armstrong says:

    Barry, you have made a difference to all with whom you have come in contact with as the leader of Bowdoin, including alumni, students, the Brunswick community and others throughout the land. You have enhanced the reputation and relevance of Bowdoin. May your next personal challenge be as rewarding as your time in Brunswick.

    Bob Armstrong, ’71

  18. Celeste Johnson '75 says:

    Reading that you are choosing to step down has refocused in my mind just how special was our 4 years during the start of co-education, and then how important it was to have you lead Bowdoin into the 21st Century…
    2 critical junctures and you were there for both of them!

    How does one follow your ‘act’? THAT is the important question….. you have steered Bowdoin through some of the most dangerous and tumultuous financial times and profound change in the way the best educational institutions in the nation handle the demand for the ‘college experience’. I am very sad to see you think it is time to leave, Barry.

  19. Hubert S. Shaw, Jr. says:

    President Mills, you have led Bowdoin with distinction and I, for one, am grateful beyond words for your tremendously positive impact on Bowdoin and its former and future students. We will miss you, but we always will remember that our great loss will be someone else’s good fortune. Hugh Shaw ’65

  20. Geoff Gordon says:

    I’ve had my differences with Barry’s perspective on several issues, but never once questioned his deep loyalty to the College nor his personal commitment to making it a great place to spend that part of a person’s life.

  21. Barbara M. Matteucci says:

    As a parents of a senior, we want to thank you for the incredible peace of mind that we have enoyed these four years in knowing that the President of our daughter’s College has kept the betterment of her education and that of her peers first and foremost in his mind at all times. We have felt like you were a friend to whom we could turn if we had any concerns, yet we had no concerns about the quality of the education and student life at Bowdoin because of your leadership. We will be forever grateful to you for all you have done for Bowdoin and all you have meant to our family. Best wishes and thank you!

  22. Ray Brearey 58' says:

    Barry, Hard to believe that you have been President of Bowdoin for 13 years and will step down after 14 years next June[2015]. You have been an outstanding Bowdoin President and your positive impact at Bowdoin will remain forever! Having said that I will never give you a three foot downhill breaking putt at Webhannet or any other course! Ray “58

  23. Danny Alvino '62 says:

    Barry, Bowdoin College has been privileged to have a number of outstanding presidents throughout its glorious history. Of the several with whom I have had the honor of interacting, without question you present as the very best. During your tenure, your superior leadership has proven to be exactly what the College required to meet both the academic and social challenges of the 21st century. While history will document your prowess as the educational leader of one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, those of us who know you personally will also remember you as a perfect gentlemen. Bowdoin College was indeed fortunate to have had you as its educational leader for so many years. Best wishes to you and Karen as you both move on to new adventures.
    Fellow Rhode Islander, Danny Alvino

  24. Bob Delaney'55 says:

    I can think of no better compliment you could have than that written by parent Barbara M. Matteucci on your service to the College. It is well deserved.

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