News Archive 2009-2018

Bowdoin to Award 489 Degrees at 213th Commencement May 26 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 “2018 Bowdoin Commencement” and tap to download.

Bowdoin will hold its 213th Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 26, conferring bachelor of arts degrees on the Class of 2018.

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 489 graduates, 49 are from Maine. Students from 41 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are represented, including Massachusetts with 73 seniors, New York with 55, California with 40, and Connecticut with 36. Thirty-three are international students, representing 19 countries.

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.

While the honorary degree recipients will not give speeches at the Commencement ceremony, they will participate in a variety of talks scheduled Friday, May 25.

Susan E. Rice, diplomat and former National Security Advisor, will present a talk in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center, at 1:30 p.m.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a MacArthur Fellow author, will present a talk at 2:30 p.m. in Kanbar Auditorium, Studzinksi Recital Hall.


Thomas R. Cech, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, delivers the keynote address, and Diana Furukawa ’18 will deliver the student address. The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m., May 25, in Sidney J. Watson Arena.

Jepte Vergara Benitez ’16 and Helen Galvin Ross ’18 are this year’s Commencement speakers.

Other participants include Chief of the Board of Trustees Michele G. Cyr ’76, P’12 and Jasper Alden Houston ’18, who will deliver Introductory Remarks and For the State, respectively. Bowdoin Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Eduardo Pazos Palma will deliver the invocation.

During Commencement, Bowdoin will award honorary doctorates to author and MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Thomas R. Cech, and diplomat and former National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice.

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.

To date, 31,606 degrees in academic programs have been awarded.

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.