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 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.