Barry Mills: An Amazing Moment

Barry Mills signatureMonday’s faculty meeting at Bowdoin included a surprise announcement that left President Barry Mills momentarily speechless and eternally grateful.

I write to tell you all about an amazing moment late yesterday afternoon at Bowdoin’s monthly faculty meeting. When I arrived at the meeting in Daggett Lounge just before 4:00 p.m., I noticed immediately that attendance was unusually strong.

In addition to many current members of the faculty, I saw people who had retired from the faculty a number of years ago. I was confused, and wondered what agenda item could have brought so many folks to the meeting.

An emotional Barry Mills reacts to a standing ovation by members of the Bowdoin faculty.

These meetings begin with a report from the president, but yesterday was different. Instead of calling on me, the faculty chair asked Professor of Physics Thomas Baumgarte to step forward to make a special announcement. That’s when I learned that the Bowdoin faculty has created an endowed scholarship for our students in honor of Karen and me.

More than 170 members of the faculty contributed to this gift, raising over $70,000. An anonymous gift from an alumnus topped off the gift to reach the $100,000 threshold required for an endowed scholarship.

I have to say I was overcome with emotion as the faculty gave me a standing ovation for what seemed like forever. I only wish Karen had been there to share in this incredibly generous demonstration of support.

Of course, this gift from the Bowdoin faculty is incredibly meaningful to Karen and me. I admire and value these talented men and women every day for their excellent teaching, their commitment to our students, and for the distinction they bring to Bowdoin through their scholarship, research, and artistic endeavors.

As I have said often over these past fourteen years, the College is fundamentally about the strength of our faculty.

Click image to view larger version

Click image to view larger version.

This gift by our faculty represents the shared mission we embark upon every day to ensure that the students who ought to be at Bowdoin have the opportunity to be at here regardless of their economic circumstance.

This commitment by our faculty to access and opportunity underscores the issue that has been foremost in my mind over these past years and represents for me the future of our College, and I am so grateful for their support of our highest priority.

I think it’s fair to say that this commitment by our faculty is unique among college and universities. It is also a testament to the character of our faculty and to the strength of our community.

Karen and I are forever grateful to our faculty for the support they have shown us over these years, and we are honored by their faith, generosity, and goodwill.

For everyone in the Bowdoin community, today is a day to share in the pride we have for this indispensable group of men and women who have once again demonstrated their extraordinary commitment to the mission and principles of our College.

Read more about Monday’s presentation of “The Bowdoin Faculty Scholarship in Honor of Barry and Karen Mills” on the Bowdoin website.


In this column, 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

Previous Bowdoin Daily Sun columns by President Barry Mills are available here or on the Bowdoin website.


  1. John P. Sheehy MD '70 says:

    Well deserved Honor!!!

  2. Peter Wilbur says:

    Barry~ no one could be more deserving! Thanks for pouring your passion, heart and soul into Bowdoin…. it certainly has made a difference. By the way, aside from a few character ‘wrinkles’, in this photo you look the same as when I first met you back in 1968-72!!


  3. Burgwell Howard says:

    It is moments like these that make me eternally grateful to have a connection to such a wonderful place, with caring people. You and Karen have been tremendous stewards and ambassadors for Bowdoin, and this is a richly deserved recognition. Congratulations!

  4. Beth Reed Halligan '84 says:

    A great tribute to a wonderful leader of the College. You and Karen are deserving of this honor. Thank you to the Faculty and Friends and Congratulations to Karen and Barry.

  5. Moments like this make me so proud to have gone to Bowdoin. I believe so very strongly in your mission, Barry. Your tenacity gave me and many other students the opportunity to prosper. And thank you Bowdoin faculty!! You all rock!!! Awesome gift– one that keeps on giving!!!!

  6. Justin J. Pearson '17 says:

    President Barry Mills and Karen Mills,

    Thank you for the support you’ve given the college to grow and reach towards its potential. The values established, beliefs instilled, and love shown has made Bowdoin a better place. Thank you both for your investment and congratulations!

    All My Best,

    Justin J. Pearson

  7. Erby Mitchell says:

    Thank you Barry for your support and inspiration. While I am not a Bowdoin graduate, my educational philosophy has been shaped by my time in admissions at Bowdoin. Barry, you helped me understand what it meant to be ambitious for an institution; eager to see progress; and passionate about the truth. I feel fortunate to have served such an extraordinary place with a bad ass president. Forever grateful, Erby Mitchell.

  8. Mike Coster says:

    Barry and Karen:
    A wonderful gesture to one of Bowdoin”s greatest President.
    Speaks so well of our faculty and our College.
    Congratulations Barry,–Most deserving !!
    Mike Coster ’57

  9. Elizabeth Correa says:

    My daughter is a 2014 graduate and her attendance at Bowdoin was in part made possible with such endowments. We are forever grateful to President Mills and Bowdoin for the gift of an incredible education and a wonderful four years for our family.

  10. John Isaacs '68 says:

    Bowdoin and President Mills always make me proud. He will be missed, but it looks like our new president is just the man to fill his shoes.

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