Shortly after returning to campus from their orientation trips on Saturday, August 25, 2018, first-year students, along with returning transfer and exchange students, gathered in front of the steps of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art to be officially welcomed by President Clayton S. Rose. They heard introductory remarks from Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Whitney Soule and Dean of First-Year Students Chad Coates.
In his address, Rose said he had two thoughts he wanted students to take away from the evening. “First, you are here to be challenged like never before, and, second, you are here to become intellectually fearless.” Bowdoin will require you to challenge yourself, he commented, warning that it will take a little time to get used to the “level and pace of college work.” One of the challenges, said Rose, will be “to keep pushing yourselves out of your comfort zone—in the degree of sophistication of the material and in the subjects that may not be natural for you. In doing so, you will learn a lot, and discover a lot about yourself.” President Rose also advised the first-years to be prepared to fail, and to learn from that failure. “This isn’t fun,” he said, “but again, it will be deeply satisfying. And the most successful people I know in all walks of life have learned from the failure that inevitably comes from challenging themselves.”
As he has done with previous first-year classes, Rose told students that their education here should help them develop the “skills, knowledge, and the emotional fortitude to deeply and effectively engage with the most challenging issues and problems.” Becoming intellectually fearless, he warned, involves “being uncomfortable, at times rattled, and even offended.” Engaging with viewpoints you disagree with, or even find offensive, is how you learn, he said. “This is how you develop the intellectual tools and emotional strength to face down and deal with our biggest problems and opportunities. And this is how you change the world.”
Video: watch the address.