News Archive 2009-2018

Bowdoin to Award 478 Degrees at 212th Commencement May 27 Archives

Bowdoin Mobile App is Your Guide to Commencement

Access complete information about Commencement Weekend, including the schedule of events, FAQs, campus maps, facility hours, and more — and sign up to receive text updates about the weekend on your mobile device.

Click here to get the free mobile app; once inside the app, search for “2017 Bowdoin Commencement” and tap to download.

Bowdoin will hold its 212th Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 27, 2017, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on the Class of 2017.

President Clayton Rose will preside over Commencement and award degrees on the terrace of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

In the event of very severe weather, Commencement will be held in Sidney J. Watson Arena.

Among the 478 graduates, 44 are from Maine.

Thirty-nine states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are represented, including Massachusetts with 68 students, New York with 67, California with 40 and Connecticut with 30.

Thirty-three are international students, representing 20 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.

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 Friday, May 26.

Tony Doerr ’95, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will present a talk at 1 p.m. in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall. This talk is open to the public.

Charles A. Leavall, conservationist, musician, and musical director for the Rolling Stones, will present talk in Kanbar Auditorium, Studzinski Recital Hall, at 2 p.m.

Fatuma Hussein, founder and executive director of the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine, delivers a talk in Kanbar Auditorium, Studzinski Recital Hall, at 3 p.m.


Hanna Holborn Gray, Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History and president emeritus, University of Chicago, delivers the keynote address, and Laura Hernandez ’17 will deliver the student address. The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m., May 26, in Sidney J. Watson Arena.

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.

Starling Irving ’17 and Raisa Tolchinsky ’17 are this year’s Commencement speakers.

Other participants include Reed Fernandez ’17, who will deliver Greetings from the State of Maine, and Rabbi Simeon Maslin, who will deliver the invocation.

During Commencement, Bowdoin will award honorary doctorates to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony E. Doerr ’95; Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History and president emeritus, University of Chicago, Hanna Holborn Gray; Immigrant Resource Center of Maine founder and executive director Fatuma Hussein; and Grammy-winning musician and conservationist Chuck Leavell.

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.