Bowdoin will hold its 209th Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 24, 2014, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on 485 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.
Among the graduates are 49 students from Maine. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia are represented, including Massachusetts with 84 students, New York with 61, Connecticut with 40 and California with 33. Twenty-six graduates are international students, representing 15 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.
James Denison ‘14 and Kate Kearns ’14 are this year’s Commencement speakers.
Other participants include U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who will deliver greetings from the State of Maine, and Rev. Robert E. Ives ’69, Bowdoin’s Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, who will deliver the invocation.
During Commencement, Bowdoin will award honorary doctorates civil rights advocate Mary Bonauto, career diplomat Christopher Hill ’74, renowned ornithologist Richard Prum and pioneering physiological researcher Harriet Wallberg. Read more about the honorary degree recipients.
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.