Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College

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Bowdoin College, founded in 1794, is a private liberal arts college situated in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick. The college enrolls approximately 1,700 students and has been coeducational since 1971. It offers 33 majors and 4 additional minors, and the student-faculty ratio is 9:1. Famous alumni include Joshua Chamberlain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry W. Longfellow. It is a highly selective liberal arts college.

In addition to its Brunswick campus, Bowdoin also owns a 118-acre coastal studies center on Orrs Island and a 200-acre scientific field station on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy.

As of 2012, Bowdoin is ranked 6th among the National Liberal Arts Colleges in the U.S. News Report Ranking and is ranked 14th on Forbes Magazine's list of America's Top Colleges.

Honors: A Top Liberal Arts College

Bowdoin College News on NYT

In many ways, universities and their museums are drawing closer. You might even see students hanging artworks.
March 15, 2017
The mammoth Yale endowment fund run by David Swensen has been a training ground for investment managers, its alumni now scattered through the nonprofit world.
November 5, 2016
The Bowdoin Christian Fellowship group will cease to be recognized on campus after refusing to adhere to rules barring discrimination based on a person’s religious beliefs.
June 9, 2014
The cellist David Ying and his brother, the violist Phillip Ying, have been named artistic directors of the Bowdoin International Music Festival.
December 4, 2013

Bowdoin Digital Commons

In this oral history, Mariya Ilyas (Class of 2013) discusses transitioning to Bowdoin and the effect her identity as a Pakistani Muslim woman had on her transition. She talks about her on-campus job, favorite professors, and most memorable classes. Ilyas also describes how her pre-orientation trip sparked a lasting interest in public service that manifested itself in a White House internship, Fulbright Scholarship, and career in diplomacy. She also speaks of her role in beginning the Muslim Student Association, and the support that the College provided. In addition, she recounts how her racial and cultural identities sometimes created instances of discomfort on campus.

In this oral history, Whitney Sanford (Class of 1983) describes her decision to enroll at Bowdoin and her experience with the different aspects of the College’s social scene. She discusses the impact of the liberal arts on her eventual career as a professor at University of Florida and mentions her involvement in Bowdoin’s first women’s rugby team. Sanford also recounts her affiliation with the Theta Delta Chi fraternity, as well as her activity on the women’s field hockey team. She also discusses the impact of the opening of a campus pub on the College’s social structure.

Jon Fuller (Class of 1968) speaks of himself and his great-grandfather, Arthur Taylor Parker, class of 1876. He describes two items that he donated to the Bowdoin Special collections and Archives: Parker’s diploma, bearing then-president Joshua Chamberlain’s signature, and a Class of 1876 ivory-handled cane. He also discusses his own experience transitioning from a small, rural town to Bowdoin, meeting people of different backgrounds, and mentions his involvement with the Psi Upsilon fraternity.

In this interview, Paul Todd (Class of 1958) recounts how his upbringing in Brewer, Maine, contributed to his decision to enroll at Bowdoin, as well as the College’s influence on his interest and eventual career in physics. He discusses his experience with a 5-year Bowdoin/MIT program, comparing both schools, and identifies the adjustments he made in transitioning to each. Todd tells a hazing story from his time as an Alpha Delta Phi pledge and describes the various social events hosted by the fraternity. He speaks of interactions with close friend and classmate Roger Howell, Jr., as well as anecdotes about some of his favorite professors: William Root, Charles Livingston, and Roy LaCasce. He also touches upon other aspects of campus life, mentioning the Alpha Rho Upsilon fraternity, his time as a violinist with the Brunswick Choral Society, and his involvements with the track and debate teams.

In this interview, Jane Warren (Class of 1983) discusses her experience transitioning to Bowdoin’s social environment and her role in the development of several campus activities. She describes the influence of college housing in forming lasting friendships, her time studying abroad in Paris, and offers a multigenerational perspective on the College’s evolving culture. Warren also describes her involvement in the creation of a women’s synchronized swimming club and women’s volleyball team, as well as her early participation in women’s rugby, which coincided with Bowdoin’s relatively recent decision to admit women.

In this oral history, Ken Carpenter (Class of 1958), Deborah Carpenter Jenson (Class of 1983), and Jim Jenson (Class of 1982) reflect on their respective experiences at Bowdoin. Ken speaks of his background as an “orphan” (his father had died and his mother could not afford to raise him) attending Girard College for Boys, his transition to Bowdoin life as a first-generation student, and his involvement with the Delta Sigma fraternity. He also explores how the research skills that he gained at Bowdoin influenced his career as a cataloger, librarian, and author. Ken and his daughter, Deborah, go on to explain that, during his time at Bowdoin, Ken met his future wife, Mary Carpenter, at a boarding house in Brunswick run by Mary’s mother, Elizabeth Wilson. They later explain that Mary Carpenter had also lost her father and that Mary’s subsequent career in academia influenced Deborah’s career path. Deborah also recounts the factors that affected her decision to attend Bowdoin, as well as a hazing story from her early days at Delta Kappa Epsilon. Jim tells of his decision to enroll at the College, his transition from California to Maine, and his experience in the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. The three also discuss their thoughts on Bowdoin’s decision to eliminate fraternities.

In this interview, David Anderson (Class of 1955) talks about his decision to attend Bowdoin, favorite campus traditions, and how Bowdoin helped him post-graduation. He reminisces about his days as a Psi Upsilon pledge and member, and describes his involvement with The Bowdoin Orient. Anderson emphasizes how Bowdoin and the connections he made during his years as a student opened the doors to opportunities after graduation, including working for Congressmen Lud Ashley of Ohio and Henry Reuss of Wisconsin.