Seal of Bowdoin College
|Motto||Ut Aquila Versus Coelum (Latin)|
Motto in English
|As an eagle towards the sky|
|Established||June 24, 1794|
Private liberal arts college |
|Endowment||$1.216 billion (2014)|
|Postgraduates||Some postdoctoral students and visiting scholars|
|Athletics||NCAA Division III – NESCAC|
|Sports||30 varsity teams, 6 club teams|
Bowdoin College // is a private liberal arts college located in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick. Founded in 1794, the college currently enrolls 1,839 students, and has been coeducational since 1971. Bowdoin offers 33 majors and four additional minors, and has a student–faculty ratio of 9:1. Notable alumni include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Thomas Brackett Reed, Franklin Pierce, and Joshua Chamberlain.
Bowdoin is consistently ranked as one of the premiere and extremely selective liberal arts colleges in the US, and was tied with Pomona as the fifth-best liberal arts college in the U.S. in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Bowdoin is located on the shores of Casco Bay and the Androscoggin River, Script error: No such module "convert". north of Freeport, Maine, and Script error: No such module "convert". north of Portland, Maine. In addition to its Brunswick campus, Bowdoin also owns a 118-acre (478,000 m²) coastal studies center on Orr's Island and a 200-acre (809,000 m²) scientific field station on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy.
- 1 History
- 2 Academics
- 3 Student life
- 4 Postgraduate placement
- 5 Student organizations
- 6 Environmental record
- 7 Campus
- 8 Athletics
- 9 Sustainability
- 10 Bowdoin alumni
- 11 Bowdoin in literature and film
- 12 Presidents of Bowdoin
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
Founding and 19th century
Bowdoin College was chartered in 1794 by Governor Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, of which Maine was then a district, and was named for former Massachusetts governor James Bowdoin, whose son James Bowdoin III was an early benefactor. At the time of its founding, it was the easternmost college in the United States. It is thought that the Bowdoin seal, created in 1798 by Joseph Callender, was a sun because it was the first college in the United States to see the sunrise.
Bowdoin came into its own in the 1820s, a decade in which Maine became an independent state as a result of the Missouri Compromise and the college graduated a number of its most famous alumni, including future United States President Franklin Pierce, class of 1824, and writers Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, both of whom graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1825.
From its founding, Bowdoin enjoyed a reputation for academic rigor, and "catered very largely to the elite from the state of Maine." During the first half of the 19th century, Bowdoin became known for its "exacting" admissions requirements, which included, in 1854, a certificate of "good moral character" as well as knowledge of Latin and Ancient Greek, geography, algebra and the major works of Cicero, Xenophon, Virgil and Homer.
Bowdoin's connections to the Civil War have given rise to a quip that the war "began and ended" in Brunswick. Harriet Beecher Stowe, "the little lady who started this big war", started writing her influential anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in Bowdoin's Appleton Hall while her husband was teaching at the College, and Brigadier General (and Brevet Major General) Joshua Chamberlain, a Bowdoin alumnus and professor, was responsible for receiving the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House in 1865. Chamberlain, a Medal of Honor recipient who later served as governor of Maine, adjutant-general of Maine, and president of Bowdoin, distinguished himself at Gettysburg, where he led the 20th Maine in its valiant defense of Little Round Top.
The college has other Civil War ties as well: Major General Oliver Otis Howard, class of 1850, led the Freedmen's Bureau after the war and later founded Howard University; Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew, class of 1837, was responsible for the formation of the 54th Massachusetts; and William P. Fessenden 1823 and Hugh McCulloch 1827 both served as Secretary of the Treasury during the Lincoln Administration. After the war, Bowdoin contended that a higher percentage of its alumni fought in the war than that of any other college in the North—and not only for the Union. In fact, Confederate President Jefferson Davis held an honorary degree from Bowdoin, which he received while United States Secretary of War in 1858. President Ulysses S. Grant, too, was given an honorary degree from the college in 1865. All told, seventeen Bowdoin alumni attained the rank of brigadier general during the Civil War, including James Deering Fessenden and Francis Fessenden; Ellis Spear, class of 1858, who served as Chamberlain's second-in-command at Gettysburg; and Charles Hamlin, class of 1857, son of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.
Twentieth centuryAugustus Stinchfield, who received his M.D. in 1868 and went on to become one of the co-founders of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was asked to join the two Mayo brothers' private medical practice in 1892. In 1915, the remaining partners in the then private practice embraced the creation of the non-profit Mayo Clinic. While perhaps Bowdoin's better-known alumnus in the sciences is the controversial entomologist-turned-sexologist Alfred Kinsey, class of 1916, the College's reputation in this area was cemented in large part by the Arctic explorations of Admiral Robert E. Peary, class of 1877, and Donald B. MacMillan, class of 1898.North Pole in 1908, and MacMillan, a member of Peary's crew, became famous in his own right as he explored Greenland, Baffin Island and Labrador in the schooner Bowdoin between 1908 and 1954. Bowdoin's Peary–MacMillan Arctic Museum  honors the two explorers, and the College's mascot, the Polar Bear, was chosen in 1913 to honor MacMillan, who donated a particularly large specimen to his alma mater in 1917.
Following in the footsteps of President Pierce and House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed, class of 1860, several 20th century Bowdoin graduates have assumed prominent positions in national government while representing the Pine Tree State. Wallace H. White, Jr., class of 1899, served as Senate Minority Leader from 1944–1947 and Senate Majority Leader from 1947–1949; George J. Mitchell, class of 1954, served as Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995 before assuming a prominent role in the Northern Ireland peace process; and William Cohen, class of 1962, spent twenty-five years in the House and Senate before being appointed Secretary of Defense in the Clinton Administration. Maine's First Congressional District has been christened the "Bowdoin seat" because of its long occupation by graduates of the College. A total of eleven Bowdoin graduates have ascended to the Maine governorship, and three graduates of the College currently sit on the state's highest court.
Over the last several decades, Bowdoin College has modernized dramatically. In 1970, it became one of a very limited number of selective schools to make the SAT optional in the admissions process, and in 1971, after nearly 180 years as a small men's college, Bowdoin admitted its first class of women. Bowdoin also phased out fraternities in the late 1990s, replacing them with a system of college-owned social houses.
In 2001, Barry Mills, class of 1972, was appointed as the fifth alumnus president of the College.
On January 18, 2008, Bowdoin announced that it would be eliminating loans for all new and current students receiving financial aid, replacing those loans with grants beginning with the 2008–2009 academic year. President Mills stated, "Some see a calling in such vital but often low paying fields such as teaching or social work. With significant debt at graduation, some students will undoubtedly be forced to make career or education choices not on the basis of their talents, interests, and promise in a particular field, but rather on their capacity to repay student loans. As an institution devoted to the common good, Bowdoin must consider the fairness of such a result."
In February 2009, following a $10 million donation by Subway Sandwiches co-founder and alumnus Peter Buck, class of 1952, the college completed a $250-million capital campaign. Additionally, the college has also recently completed major construction projects on the campus, including a significant renovation of the college's art museum and a new fitness center named after Peter Buck.
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| U.S. News & World Report
Bowdoin is consistently ranked among the top ten liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. In the 2014 edition of the rankings, Bowdoin ranks fourth. In 2006, Newsweek described Bowdoin as a "New Ivy", one of a number of elite colleges and universities outside of the Ivy League. Bowdoin is also part of the SAT optional movement for undergraduate admission. Admission to Bowdoin is extremely selective, and the college has an acceptance rate of 14.5%. Bowdoin was the first college to be named "School of the Year" by College Prowler.The Government & Legal Studies Department, whose prominent professors include Paul Franco and Richard E. Morgan, was ranked the top small college political science program in the world by researchers at the London School of Economics in 2003. Government & Legal Studies was the most popular major for every graduating class between 2000 and 2009. Other departments are also strong, including economics, the natural sciences, English, and Romance Languages.
Course distribution requirements were abolished in the 1970s, but were reinstated by a faculty majority vote in 1981, as a result of an initiative by oral communication and film professor Barbara Kaster. She insisted that distribution requirements would ensure students a more well-rounded education in a diversity of fields and therefore present them with more career possibilities. The requirements of at least two courses in each of the categories of Natural Sciences/Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities/Fine Arts, and Foreign Studies (including languages) took effect for the Class of 1987 and have been gradually amended since then. Current requirements require one course each in: Natural Sciences, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual and Performing Arts, International Perspectives and Exploring Social Differences. A small writing-intensive course, called a First Year Seminar, is also required.
In 1990, the Bowdoin faculty voted to change the four-level grading system to the traditional A, B, C, D and F system. The previous system, consisting of high honors, honors, pass and fail, was devised primarily to de-emphasize the importance of grades and to reduce competition. In 2002, the faculty decided to change the grading system so that it incorporated plus and minus grades.
Other prominent Bowdoin faculty include (or have included): Edville Gerhardt Abbott, Charles Beitz, John Bisbee, Paul Chadbourne, Thomas Cornell, Kristen R. Ghodsee, Eddie Glaude, Joseph E. Johnson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Elliott Schwartz, and Scott Sehon
Bowdoin is a highly selective liberal arts school, with an acceptance rate of 15% or 1,009 of the 6,790 applicants for the class of 2019. U.S. News and World Report classifies Bowdoin as "most selective". Of enrolling students, 89% are in the top 10% of their high school graduating class. According to the Princeton Review, the average GPA of enrolling high school students is 3.8.
Although Bowdoin does not require the SAT in admissions, all students must submit a score upon matriculation. The middle 50% SAT range for the verbal and math sections of the SAT is 660–750 and 660–750, respectively — numbers of only those submitting scores during the admissions process. The middle 50% ACT range is 30–33.
The April 17, 2008, edition of The Economist noted Bowdoin in an article on university admissions: "So-called 'almost-Ivies' such as Bowdoin and Middlebury also saw record low admission rates this year (18% each). It is now as hard to get into Bowdoin, says the college's admissions director, as it was to get into Princeton in the 1970s."
Many students apply for financial aid, and around 85% of those who apply receive aid. Bowdoin is a need-blind and a no-loans institution. Students applying to the school are evaluated independently of their financial situations, the college meets 100% of demonstrated financial need, and the college replaces loans with grants for all students on financial aid to lift the burden of significant student debt upon graduation.
While a significant portion of the student body hails from New England — including nearly 25% from Massachusetts and 10% from Maine — recent classes have drawn from an increasingly national and international pool. Although Bowdoin once had a reputation for homogeneity (both ethnically and socioeconomically), a diversity campaign has increased the percentage of students of color in recent classes to more than 31%. In fact, admission of minorities goes back at least as far as John Brown Russwurm 1826, Bowdoin's first African-American college graduate, and the third African-American graduate of any American college.
The college's dining services have been featured on numerous national news organizations, with The New York Times reporting: "If it weren't for the trays, and for the fact that most diners are under 25, you'd think it was a restaurant." Bowdoin has two major dining halls, one of which was renovated in the late 1990s. Every academic year begins with a lobster bake outside Farley Fieldhouse. The college was ranked #6 nationally for the "Dorms like Palaces" category by Princeton Review in 2011.
In 2010, Newsweek ranked Bowdoin the #6 "Most desirable small school in America". In April 2008, College Prowler, a publishing company for guidebooks on top colleges and universities in the United States and written by students, named Bowdoin College its "School of the Year" citing excellence in academics, safety and security, housing and dining.Recalling his days at Bowdoin in a recent interview, Professor Richard E. Morgan (Class of 1959) described student life at the then-all-male school as "monastic," and noted that "the only things to do were either work or drink." (This is corroborated by the Official Preppy Handbook, which in 1980 ranked Bowdoin the number two drinking school in the country, behind Dartmouth.) These days, Morgan observed, the College offers a far broader array of recreational opportunities: "If we could have looked forward in time to Bowdoin's standard of living today, we would have been astounded." 
Since abolishing Greek fraternities in the late 1990s, Bowdoin has switched to a system in which entering students are assigned a "college house" affiliation correlating with their first-year dormitory. While six houses were originally established, following the construction of two new dorms, two were added effective in the fall of 2007, bringing the total to eight: Ladd (affiliated with Osher Hall), Baxter (West), Quinby (Appleton), MacMillan (Coleman), Howell (Hyde), Helmreich (Maine), Reed (Moore), and Burnett (Winthrop). The college houses are physical buildings around campus which host parties and other events throughout the year. Those students who choose not to live in their affiliated house retain their affiliation and are considered members throughout their Bowdoin career. Before the fraternity system was abolished in the 1990s, all the Bowdoin fraternities were co-educational (except for one unrecognized sorority and two unrecognized all-male fraternities).
Bowdoin's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, which was founded in 1825, is the nation's sixth oldest. Those who have been inducted to the Maine Alpha chapter as undergraduates include Nathaniel Hawthorne (1825), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1825), Robert E. Peary (1877), Owen Brewster (1909), Harold Hitz Burton (1909), Paul Douglas (1913), Alfred Kinsey (1916), Thomas R. Pickering (1953), and Lawrence B. Lindsey (1976).
In 2006, Bowdoin was named a "Top Producer of Fulbright Awards for American Students" by the Institute of International Education. According to PayScale, alumni of Bowdoin College have a mid-career median salary of $106,000, making it the 29th highest among colleges and universities in the United States.
Historically, Bowdoin is known for the strength of its alumni in many different fields and professions. In Maine, the First Congressional District has been christened the "Bowdoin seat" because of its long occupation by graduates of the College. A total of eleven Bowdoin graduates have ascended to the Maine governorship, and three graduates of the College currently sit on the state's highest court.
Media and publications
Bowdoin's student newspaper, The Bowdoin Orient, is the oldest continuously published college weekly in the United States. The Orient was named the second best tabloid-sized college weekly at a Collegiate Associated Press conference in March 2007. Additionally, the school's literary magazine, The Quill, has been published since 1897. The College's radio station, WBOR, has been in operation since 1951. In 1999, The Bowdoin Cable Network was formed, producing a weekly newscast and several student created shows per semester.
"The Longfellows" are the newer of the two all male groups. Founded in 2004, they trace their roots to the historic class of 1825 at Bowdoin, which graduated Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In 2011, they won their quarterfinal of the International Collegiate Championship of A Cappella, advancing them to the semifinals, as the only all-male group. The same year, they were in the final round of selection to be on NBC's "The Sing Off." In 2010 and again in 2013, they sang the national anthem at a Boston Celtics game. They have performed all over Maine and the Northeast.
"The Meddiebempsters" are the oldest of Bowdoin's six a cappella groups and the third-oldest a cappella group in the nation. Founded in the spring of 1937, the Meddies gained notice when they performed in USO shows after World War II. In 1948, the Meddiebempsters performed for the First Family and were then invited to take a USO tour of Europe for the first time. The tour's enormous success resulted in a full performance calendar for the 1948-1949 academic year. The Department of Defense invited them back every summer from 1948 to 1955 and the group appeared on the Tex and Jinx Show.
"Miscellania" is the oldest all-female a cappella group on campus. Miscellania was founded in 1972 as the female counterpart to the Meddiebempsters, shortly after women were admitted to Bowdoin. Since then, Miscellania has grown to be a part of the tradition of a cappella at Bowdoin College. Distinguishable by their black dresses, Miscellania has performed all over Maine and the Northeast, as well as down the East Coast on longer tours.
The largest student group on campus is the Outing Club, which leads canoeing, kayaking, rafting, camping and backpacking trips throughout Maine. One of the school's two historic rival literary societies, The Peucinian Society, has recently been revitalized from its previous form. The Peucinian Society was founded in 1805, making it one of the oldest literary and intellectual societies in the country. This organization counts such people as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Joshua Chamberlain amongst its former members, though these individuals originally belonged to the Athenian Society (the second society of the two historic groups). These literary and intellectual societies were the dominant groups on campus before they declined in popularity after the rise of Greek fraternities.
Commitment to action on climate change
Bowdoin College signed onto the American College and University President's Climate Commitment in 2007. The College followed through with a carbon neutrality plan released in 2009, with 2020 as the target year for carbon neutrality. According to the plan, general improvements to Maine's electricity grid will account for 7% of carbon reductions, commuting improvements will account for 1%, and the purchase of renewable energy credits will account for 41%. The College intends to reduce its own carbon emissions 28% by 2020, leaving the remaining 23% for new technologies and more renewable energy credits.
Coordinator of Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson has acknowledged that achieving carbon neutrality by 2020 “might not be realistic.”
Bowdoin purchases its electricity from Central Maine Power. The College buys renewable energy credits to offset all of the related carbon emissions. According to the EPA's Green Power Partnership, 5.8% of Bowdoin's total electricity usage comes from green power.
Bowdoin's facilities are heated by an on-campus heating plant which burns natural gas.
In February 2013, the College announced that 1.4% of its endowment is invested in the fossil fuel industry. The disclosure was in response to students' calls to divest these holdings.
Museums on Bowdoin's campus include the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. Notable Buildings include Massachusetts Hall, Hubbard Hall, the Parker Cleaveland House and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. <div class="thumb tnone" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right:auto; width:99%; max-width:Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".px;">
Bowdoin competes in the NCAA Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which also includes Amherst, Conn College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan, Williams, and Maine rivals Bates and Colby in the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium (CBB). The College's mascot is the Polar Bear, the school's official colors white and black.
Bowdoin fields thirty varsity teams, including men's baseball, basketball, cross country, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, Nordic skiing, sailing, soccer, squash, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field, and women's field hockey, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, Nordic skiing, sailing, soccer, softball, squash, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and rugby.
Men's ice hockey is the most popular spectator sport, with hundreds of students turning out for games against arch-rival Colby. In 2004, Bowdoin became the second college in the United States to elevate the women's rugby team to varsity status. While technically still varsity, the women's rugby team competes in New England Rugby Football Union, rather than NESCAC. The sailing team, which competes in the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA), is co-ed and was considered in 2006 to be one of the top 20 in the nation by Sailing World magazine. There are also intercollegiate and club teams in men's and women's fencing, men's and women's rowing, men's rugby, water polo, men's soccer, men's volleyball and men's and women's Ultimate.
Recent NESCAC champions include men's ice hockey (2014, 2013, 2011 (albeit officially forfeited)), men's tennis (2008), women's volleyball (2011) men's cross country (2001, 2002), women's basketball (2001–2007, 2009), women's ice hockey (2002, 2004, 2013) and women's field hockey (2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011); recent NCAA tournament appearances include women's basketball (Elite Eight, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007; Final Four, 2004), women's field hockey (Final Four, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010) men's rugby (National NCAA DII sweet 16, 2001), women's ice hockey (Final Four, 2002, 2003; Elite Eight, 2004, 2005), men's soccer (Final Four, 2010) and women's lacrosse (Final Four, 2011). In 2012, the women's rugby team, which is one of only eight varsity programs in the country, won the first championship of the recently formed NESCRC conference.
Women's basketball, field hockey, and ice hockey have been Bowdoin's most successful teams. The women's basketball team are 8-time NESCAC champions, holding a record 7-year streak. The field hockey team are four-time NCAA National Champions; winning the title in 2007 (defeating Middlebury College), 2008 (defeating Tufts University), 2010 (defeating Messiah College) and 2013 (defeating Salisbury College). Head coach Nicky Pearson has been NESCAC coach of the year a record 7 times; no other coach in any NESCAC sport has won the award more than twice. In 2007, 2008 and 2010, Pearson was also honored as the NCAA's Division III coach of the year.
2011 also saw Bowdoin's 4th NCAA National Championship, with a win in the Men's Tennis doubles. Bowdoin's 5th NCAA National Championship came less than a year later, with the men's indoor track Distance Medley Relay Team taking the top spot at the Division 3 Indoor Track and Field National Championships. Field Hockey holds the other 3 NCAA titles.
Bowdoin's athletic facilities combine modern buildings with old traditions, and have been historically used as training grounds for Olympic athletes.
In addition to several outdoor athletic fields (Pickard fields & Whittier Field), the College's athletic facilities include:
- Sidney J. Watson Arena, a modern Division III ice hockey arena with a 2,300 spectator capacity and LEED certification.
- Buck Center for Health and Fitness, a $15.2 million LEED-certified facility with a 40-foot climbing wall and spaces for meditation, yoga, and tai chi classes.
- Hubbard Grandstand and Whittier Field, a 9,000 spectator football field and additional six-lane all weather track renovated in 2005 by Nike corporation.
- Leroy Greason Pool, which can accommodate up to 16 lanes of lap swimming.
- Lubin Family Squash Center, which features seven squash courts with moveable sidewalls.
- boathouses for sailing and rowing, several basketball courts, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and several new athletic fields including a new astroturf field.
According to its Environmental Mission Statement, Bowdoin College "shall seek to encourage conservation, recycling, and other sustainable practices in its daily decision making processes, and shall take into account, in the operations of the College, all appropriate economic, environmental, and social concerns." 
Between 2002 and 2008, Bowdoin College decreased its CO2 emissions by 40%. It achieved that reduction by switching from #6 to #2 oil in its heating plant, reducing the campus set heating point from 72 to 68 degrees, and by adhering to its own Green Design Standards in renovations. In addition, Bowdoin runs a single stream recycling program, and its dining services department has begun composting food waste and unbleached paper napkins. Bowdoin received an overall grade of "B" for its sustainability efforts on the College Sustainability Report Card 2009 published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. In addition to various student run organizations, including Sustainable Bowdoin and the Bowdoin Organic Garden, the college's dining service regularly uses local products and annually invites local farmers to campus to discuss how local food products are incorporated into the daily menu for students.
In 2003, Bowdoin made a commitment to achieve LEED-certification for all new campus buildings. The college has since completed construction on Osher and West residency halls, the Peter Buck Center for Health & Fitness, and the Sidney J. Watson Arena, all of which have attained LEED or Silver LEED certification. The new dorms partially use collected rain water as part of an advanced flushing system, while the new ice arena uses one of the most efficient dehumidification and refrigeration systems out of any Division III collegiate arena.
In 2009, the college announced a detailed plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020 as a result of campus-wide conservation efforts and specific initiatives in its implementation plan. The plan includes the construction of a solar thermal system, part of the "Thorne Solar Hot Water Project"; cogeneration in the central heating plant (for which Bowdoin received $400,000 in federal grants); lighting upgrades to all campus buildings; and modern monitoring systems of energy usage on campus.
Selected notable Bowdoin graduates include:
- William Pitt Fessenden (1823), U.S. Senator from Maine and U.S. Treasury Secretary (1864-1865)
- Franklin Pierce (1824), U.S. Senator from New Hampshire and 14th President of the United States (1853-1857)
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1825), poet
- Nathaniel Hawthorne (1825), novelist, author of The Scarlet Letter
- John Russwurm (1826), founder of Freedom's Journal, the first African-American newspaper in the United States
- John Parker Hale (1827), U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, Free Soil presidential nominee (1852), and diplomat
- General Oliver Otis Howard (1850), Civil War hero and founder of Howard University
- General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1852), academic, Civil War hero, and governor of Maine
- Melville Fuller (1853), Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1888-1910)
- Thomas Brackett Reed (1860), powerful two-time Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Dr. Augustus Stinchfield (1868), Mayo Clinic co-founder
- Admiral Robert Peary (1877), Arctic explorer, known for controversial North Pole expedition (1909)
- Stirling Fessenden (1896), Chairman (1923-1929) and Secretary General (1929-1939) of the Shanghai Municipal Council
- Harold Hitz Burton (1909), U.S. Senator from Ohio and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1945-1958)
- Paul Douglas (1913), economist and U.S. Senator from Illinois
- Alfred Kinsey (1916), author of the Kinsey Reports (1948, 1953) on human sexual behavior
- Fred Tootell (1923), Olympic gold medalist in the hammer throw (1924)
- Hodding Carter II (1927), Pulitzer Prize-winning progressive Southern journalist
- Dr. H. Richard Hornberger, a.k.a. Richard Hooker (1945), co-author of MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors
- Peter Buck (1952), co-founder of the Subway sandwich chain
- Burt Kwouk (1953), Chinese-British actor, known for role as Cato in the Pink Panther films
- Thomas Pickering (1953), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Russia, India, Israel, Nigeria, et al.
- George J. Mitchell (1954), U.S. Senator from Maine and Senate Majority Leader, Special Envoy to Northern Ireland and for Middle East Peace, Walt Disney chairman, and lead investigator for the 2007 Mitchell Report on steroids in Major League Baseball
- Leon Gorman (1956), longtime president of L.L. Bean (1967-2001)
- William Cohen (1962), U.S. Senator from Maine and U.S. Defense Secretary (1997-2001)
- Kenneth Chenault (1973), CEO of American Express
- Christopher Hill (1974), Assistant U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, South Korea, Poland, et al.
- Geoffrey Canada (1974), author and activist, founder of Harlem Children's Zone
- Ed Lee (1974), 43rd Mayor of San Francisco, and the city's first Asian-American mayor
- Douglas Kennedy (1976), international best-selling novelist, including two #1 best sellers in France
- Stanley Druckenmiller (1975), investor, hedge fund manager and philanthropist
- Cynthia McFadden (1978), ABC News anchor
- Joan Benoit Samuelson (1979), former world-record holder and first Olympic champion (1984) in the women's marathon
- Reed Hastings (1983), founder and CEO of Netflix
- Paul Adelstein (1991), television actor, known for roles in Prison Break and Private Practice
- Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky, (1992), electronic and experimental hip hop musician
- Anthony Doerr (1995), four-time O. Henry Award winning short story writer and novelist; author of the bestselling novel All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Bowdoin in literature and film
- Fanshawe (1828) — This Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, published only three years after his graduation from Bowdoin, is set at a small college which bears a striking resemblance to his alma mater.
- "Morituri Salutamus" (1875) — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this poem for his 50th Bowdoin reunion, and recited it on that occasion. One famous passage recalls the College: "O ye familiar scenes,—ye groves of pine / That once were mine and are no longer mine, — / Thou river, widening through the meadows green / To the vast sea, so near and yet unseen, — / Ye halls, in whose seclusion and repose / Phantoms of fame, like exhalations, rose / And vanished,—we who are about to die / Salute you; earth and air and sea and sky / And the Imperial Sun that scatters down / His sovereign splendors upon grove and town." 
- Broken Arrow (1950) — This Golden Globe Award-winning film starring James Stewart featured Oliver Otis Howard, class of 1850 as a prominent character.
- M*A*S*H (1968, 1970) — In both the book and film, the character Hawkeye Pierce is said to have played football at Androscoggin College, a fictional school based on the alma mater of author Richard Hooker, Bowdoin class of 1945.
- The Killer Angels (1975) — This historical novel by Michael Shaara, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, focuses in large part on the role played by Bowdoin graduate and professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at the Battle of Gettysburg.
- Glory (1989) — Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew, class of 1837 is a character in this film about the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
- Gettysburg (1993) — In this movie based on The Killer Angels, there is at least one reference to character Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain as having had an academic career at Bowdoin, which he put aside to lead the 20th Maine.
- The Man Without a Face (1993) — Parts of this movie were filmed on campus.
- The Cider House Rules (1994) — In this John Irving novel and its 1999 film adaptation, a Bowdoin-educated doctor forges a Bowdoin diploma for a young protégé.
- The Sopranos (1999) — In an episode entitled "College," Tony Soprano and his daughter Meadow visit Colby, where Tony kills a former associate, and Bowdoin, where he reads an inscription paraphrasing Hawthorne's warning that "no man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true."  Tony's daughter is ultimately rejected from Bowdoin and ends up attending Columbia. The episode was not filmed on Bowdoin's campus, but was filmed at Drew University in New Jersey.
- Where the Heart Is (2000) — The main character in this movie falls in love with a Bowdoin man. The film, which has a scene "at Bowdoin", is based on a novel of the same name. The scene was actually filmed at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
- Gods and Generals (2003) — This film, based on a historical novel of the same name, is a prequel to Gettysburg, and has a scene where Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain gives a lecture to a class.
- Kinsey (2004) — Biopic about sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, class of 1916, includes a scene in which his father opposes his decision to transfer to Bowdoin.
- The Aviator (2004) — 1909 Bowdoin grad and U.S. Senator Owen Brewster plays a major role in this Howard Hughes biopic. Played by Alan Alda who also played Hawkeye Pierce whose alma mater was based on Bowdoin as mentioned above.
- Grey's Anatomy (2008) — Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd is canonicallya Bowdoin grad.
- Catamount, A North Country Thriller (2008) — A thriller that takes place in the North Country of New Hampshire. Two fly fishermen who fall victim to a rogue mountain lion were roommates at Bowdoin. The novel was written by Rick Davidson, class of 1969.
- Mad Men (2009) — In the season three episode entitled "Wee Small Hours", a Bowdoin T-shirt is worn by character Suzanne Farrell, even though the episode is set several years before Bowdoin began accepting women.
- The Good Wife (2009) — In the first scene of an episode entitled "Crash" a character introduces a new assistant, listing "Bowdoin 2005, summa cum laude" among her credentials.
- Tinkers (2009)— In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Paul Harding, one of the characters, Gilbert, is a semi-legendary literary figure that graduated from Bowdoin and is rumored to have been one of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classmates.
- Tenure (2009) — In the first scene, Luke Wilson's character (Charlie Thurber) mentions that he was first rejected tenure at Bowdoin College.
Presidents of Bowdoin
- Joseph McKeen (1802–07)
- Jesse Appleton (1809–19)
- William Allen (1820–39)
- Leonard Woods (1839–66)
- Samuel Harris (1867–71)
- Joshua Chamberlain (1871–83)
- William DeWitt Hyde (1885–1917)
- Kenneth C.M. Sills (1918–52)
- James S. Coles (1952–67)
- Roger Howell, Jr. (1969–78)
- Willard F. Enteman (1978–80)
- A. LeRoy Greason (1981–90)
- Robert Hazard Edwards (1990–2000)
- Barry Mills (2001–present)
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