Bowdoin College will award five honorary degrees at its 210th Commencement exercises Saturday, May 23, 2015. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on the Quad in front of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
Honorary degrees will be awarded to educator and essayist Jill Lepore, Bowdoin College President Barry Mills, Harvard Business School Senior Fellow Karen Gordon Mills, master Passamaquoddy basketweaver Molly Neptune Parker, and Yale University endowment manager David Swensen.
Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is at once a preeminent academic, a gifted teacher, and an esteemed essayist. Dr. Lepore’s research, teaching and writing often explores absences and asymmetries of evidence in the historical record.
Her current work concerns the histories and technologies of evidence and of privacy. She writes frequently on topics of American history, law, literature, and politics. In 2012, she was named Harvard College Professor, in recognition of distinction in undergraduate teaching.
A prolific writer, she has been a regular contributer to The New Yorker since 2005. She is the author of ten books, most recently The Secret History of Wonder Woman, an exploration of women’s rights in America through the lens of the iconic comic book character. In 2015 she will begin a Guggenheim Fellowship Year, working on her next book, Dickens in America, an account of the novelist’s 1842 American tour.
Dr. Lepore earned a B.A. in English from Tufts University, an M.A. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.
Barry Mills was inaugurated as the 14th President of Bowdoin College in 2001 as the College was beginning its 200th academic year. He has presided over a period of notable accomplishment and excellence at Bowdoin, and has been determined and tireless in the pursuit of opportunity and access for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
President Mills has underscored the primacy of Bowdoin’s academic program and committed both in word and deed to the ideal of The Common Good. The College’s position among the very best in the nation is a direct reflection of his wise, forward-thinking leadership.
Today’s student body is the most diverse in the College’s history, the alumni body is engaged and energized, and Bowdoin’s record of financial management is the envy of colleges and universities everywhere. President Mills served the College as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1994 until 2000.
Prior to his tenure as President of Bowdoin, he served as the deputy presiding partner of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City, one of the nation’s preeminent international law firms. He earned an A.B. in biochemistry and government from Bowdoin, a Ph.D. in biology from Syracuse University, and a J.D. from Columbia University.
Karen Gordon Mills is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, focusing on U.S. competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation. She is an accomplished business leader with the experience and insights of a keen entrepreneur. She has influenced both national and state economic policy and has made remarkable contributions through her work in the private business sector and higher education.
Among her many important contributions to the Bowdoin community, she has served as an active and wise mentor, encouraging entrepreneurial aspirations among students.
Ms. Mills served as Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009-2013. She was a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet and was a member of the President’s National Economic Council, serving as a key member of the White House economic team. Her service to the State of Maine has included chairing the State’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy and serving as a member of the Governor’s Council for the Redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.
In the private sector, Ms. Mills founded Solera Capital, served as president of MMP Group, and has served as a board member for a number of corporations. She is a past vice chair of the Harvard Overseers, and is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Harvard Corporation. She earned an A.B. in economics from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Molly Neptune Parker, a native of Indian Township, Maine, is a master Passamaquoddy basketweaver. An artist, educator, and community leader, she has earned national and international recognition for the proud tradition of Pasamaquoddy basketmaking. The matriarch of four generations of artists, she shares generously of her legacy and expertise.
A true tradition-bearer, she has taught generations of tribal members across the country to weave, ensuring the continuance of this once-endangered Native art form. She has served as president of the Maine Indian Basketmakers’ Alliance and as a master teacher in the Maine Arts Commission’s traditional arts apprenticeship program.
She has demonstrated her craft at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and is a recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts; the Fellowship recognizes artists for both artistic excellence and efforts to conserve America’s traditional arts heritage for future generations. Mrs. Parker’s other awards include the Maine Arts Commission’s Fellowship Award for Traditional Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Native Arts Award, and the First People’s Fund’s Community Spirit Award.
David F. Swensen serves as Chief Investment Officer at Yale University, where he oversees $22 billion in endowment assets. He joined the staff at Yale in 1985; under his stewardship, the Yale endowment has generated returns of 13.8 percent per year, a record unequalled among institutional investors.
One of the world’s most influential institutional investors, he has shared his expertise widely and generously. The field of higher education in particular has benefited immeasurably from his integrity and from his perspectives and insights on investments. Dr. Swensen has had a direct impact on Bowdoin’s own record of investment success, having served as a mentor to Senior Vice President for Investments Paula Volent and Trustee Emerita Ellen Shuman.
He teaches endowment management at Yale, where he is a Fellow of Berkeley College, an Incorporator of the Elizabethan Club, and a Fellow of the International Center for Finance. He has served as a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and as trustee or advisor to a number of institutions and foundations, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Investment Fund for Foundations. He is the author of two books, Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment and Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment. Dr. Swensen earned a B.A. and B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and a Ph.D. in economics from Yale.