At the 2012 Reunion Convocation, the College presented three awards to two alumnae and a retiring staff member. Jill Shaw Ruddock ’77 received the Common Good Award; Marijane Benner Browne ’83 was awarded the Alumni Service Award; and Sherrie Bergman received the Alumni Service Award for Faculty and Staff.
Sherrie Bergman, Bowdoin College librarian, co-advisor to Hillel, and chair of the Spindel Memorial Lectureship Committee, is retiring after 20 years at Bowdoin. She thanked the Alumni Council for recognizing the “central role that libraries play in liberal arts education.” In the past two decades, she described how libraries have undergone enormous changes as technologies have quickly evolved. “It’s been thrilling to lead the library through this very exciting period,” she said. She added, however, that even in the digital age, libraries have retained their essential mission: “to offer information in a setting that encourages transformational experiences of the mind.”
Marijane Benner Browne opened her remarks by describing the challenge that Craig McEwen, Daniel B. Fayerweather Professor of Political Economy and Sociology Emeritus, gave her after she graduated from law school. He advised her to give back to the college by helping it recruit students from less privileged backgrounds. In the following years, in her spare time, she committed to doing just that. When she joined the Board of Trustees in 1994, she continued her work of building a more diverse community here. Meanwhile, Browne’s work changed her as well: “I learned from the students I helped bring to Bowdoin about hope and optimism, struggle, resilience, and the indefatigable resolve to come back and fight another day. I learned the power of community, of collective action, of inspired, invested leadership. I discovered the joy of working with others to take something good and make it better,” she said.
Jill Shaw Ruddock, an author, patron of the arts, philanthropist, publisher, and accomplished executive in the world of investments and securities, told the audience that she had graduated from an inner-city high school in Baltimore, Md., where police patrolled the hallways. So coming to Bowdoin “was like discovering a garden filled with the most amazing treasures.” She said, “My four years here was the beginning of a life I never expected to live. It was the beginning of laying a foundation of higher learning, cooperation and a realization of what really matters in life. Part of this realization was the importance of giving back.” She likened Bowdoin not to a bubble, but rather to a cocoon. “Just like a caterpillar, when it’s time to become an adult, students who come to Bowdoin find a sheltered, safe and secure environment in which to transform. … There is a magical transformation that happens here on this beautiful college campus in Brunswick, Maine surrounded by the Bowdoin pines.”