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Watch Online: Bowdoin to Award 473 Degrees at 210th Commencement May 23 Archives

Bowdoin will hold its 210th Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 23, 2015, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on 473 graduates.

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Commencement Resources

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 53 students from Maine. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia are represented, including Massachusetts with 94 students, New York with 54, California with 33 and Connecticut with 31.

Thirty-eight graduates are international students, representing 19 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 22.

Molly Neptune Parker will deliver a lecture at 1:30 p.m., Beam Classroom, Visual Arts Center.

David Swensen will deliver a talk at 1:30 p.m., Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall.

Karen Mills will deliver a lecture at 2:30 p.m., Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center.


Baccalaureate, which begins at 4:30 p.m., May 22, in Sidney J. Watson Arena, includes remarks by President Barry Mills, Voices from Bowdoin’s Past by Dean of Students Tim Foster, a keynote address by Jill Lepore, and student addresses by Robert Feeney ’15 and Margaret Lindeman ’15.

Stephanie “Stevie” Lane ’15 and Jared Littlejohn ’15 are this year’s Commencement speakers.

Other participants include U.S. Senator Angus S. King (I-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.

Honorary Degrees
During Commencement, Bowdoin will award honorary doctorates to educator and essayist Jill Lepore, Bowdoin College President Barry Mills, Harvard Business School Senior Fellow Karen Gordon Mills, master Pasamaquoddy basketweaver Molly Neptune Parker, and Yale University endowment manager David Swensen. Read more about the honorary degree recipients.

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, former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen ’62 and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson ’79.