News Archive 2009-2018

Bowdoin to Award 464 Degrees at 208th Commencement May 25 Archives

Bowdoin will hold its 208th Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 25, 2013, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on 464 graduates.

Commencement preview diag256

Watch Commencement live online here.

Schedule of events, answers to frequently asked questions and other Commencement information here.

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.

Honorary Degree Recipient Talks and Baccalaureate
While the honorary degree recipients will not give speeches at the Commencement ceremony, they will participate in a variety of talks scheduled May 23-24.

Philip Conkling will present the talk, “Thinking Like an Island — What the Maine Islands Taught Me.” 7 p.m., May 23, Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center

David Blight presents the talk, “Why Does the Civil War Have a Hold on the American Historical Imagination?” 1:30 p.m., May 24, Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts

Rose Marie Bravo joins Professor Jennifer Scanlon in a discussion about leadership in a changing business world. 2:45 p.m., May 24, Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center


Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, delivers the keynote address, and Marissa Alioto ’13, delivers the student address. 4:30 p.m., May 24, Sidney J. Watson Arena

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.

Commencement History
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.