Bowdoin will hold its 208th Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 25, 2013, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on 464 graduates.
President Barry Mills will preside over Commencement and award degrees on the terrace of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art on the Quad. In the event of very severe weather, Commencement will be held in Sidney J. Watson Arena. (Bowdoin has not held an indoor commencement since 1986.)
Of the 464 graduates, 55 are from Maine. Forty-two states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are represented, including Massachusetts with 83 students, New York with 56, California with 36 and Connecticut with 34. Twenty-three graduates are international students, representing 14 countries and territories.
Commencement Weekend Speakers
Since 1806, Bowdoin has given the honor of speaking at commencement to graduating seniors. Until 1877 every graduate had a speaking part. The custom of selecting student commencement speakers through competition began in the 1880s.
Past speakers have included poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1825, House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed 1860, Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary 1877 and biologist and researcher Alfred Kinsey ’16.
Hannah Glover ’13 and RaiNesha Miller ’13 are this year’s Commencement speakers.
Other participants include Maine Sen. Stan J. Gerzofsky, who will deliver greetings from the State, and Rev. Robert E. Ives ’69, Bowdoin’s new Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, who will deliver the invocation.
During Commencement, Bowdoin will award honorary doctorates to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Sri Lankan poet Jean Arasanayagam, American Civil War historian David Blight, former Burberry CEO Rose Marie Bravo, Island Institute founder and president Philip Conkling and trustee emerita C. Lee Herter.
Bowdoin College was chartered in 1794, and held its first commencement ceremony in 1806 in the second meetinghouse of First Parish Church across the street from the College. There were seven graduates in the Class of 1806. The following year saw the smallest graduating class in the College’s history, with just three members in the Class of 1807.
The best-known class was the Class of 1825. In addition to Longfellow, the class included writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. In 1875, on the day before commencement at the 50th reunion of the class, Longfellow recited his poem “Morituri Salutamus,” an elegiac reflection on youth and age.
Other notable Bowdoin graduates include President Franklin Pierce 1824, African-American newspaper editor John Brown Russwurm 1826, Civil War hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain 1852, former U.S. Senator and architect of the Ireland peace accord George Mitchell ’54 and former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen ’62.