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President , Bowdoin College

Clayton S. Rose—the fifteenth president of Bowdoin College—has consistently underscored the essential importance of a liberal arts education for living lives of meaning, for thoughtful engagement in civic life, and for satisfaction and success in work.

Throughout his tenure as president, Rose has reaffirmed the College’s commitment to admissions and financial aid programs that welcome all students regardless of their financial circumstances with the aim of attracting the very best students and of building a community where everyone has the opportunity for an equally robust experience, regardless of their economic status, background, or identity. He has also emphasized the themes of discourse and inclusion at Bowdoin—specifically, that a central mission of the College is to foster an environment of vigorous and respectful intellectual engagement on the most challenging and uncomfortable ideas, where students question their beliefs and develop the skills, knowledge, and disposition to become “intellectually fearless.”

Rose has also worked to enhance Bowdoin’s leadership role in the teaching and study of the environment. In 2016, he announced a lead gift of $10 million for the new Roux Center for the Environment (to open Fall 2018) that will bring together on the central campus faculty and students from across the disciplines to encourage and facilitate creativity and collaboration about global problems related to the environment. And, in 2017, Rose announced another $10-million lead gift to expand ocean research and environmental education at Bowdoin’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center on Orr’s Island in nearby Harpswell, Maine. Rose has led new initiatives to encourage public service and, through THRIVE, a new program funded by Netflix CEO and Bowdoin alumnus Reed Hastings ’83, to substantially transform the experience and improve the graduation rates of low-income students, first-generation college students, and those students traditionally underrepresented on college campuses.

Rose continues to promote the value and importance of the humanities in higher education, and he has worked to debunk some of the myths about a liberal arts education. Specifically, Rose has argued that one’s undergraduate major does not define or limit a career path; that access to an education at selective colleges and universities is now more available to low- and middle-income families than ever before; and that a liberal arts education is great career preparation, “both for excellent lifetime earnings and for satisfaction with the work.”

Originally from San Rafael, California, Rose earned his undergraduate degree (1980) and MBA (1981) at the University of Chicago. In 2003, following a highly successful twenty-year leadership and management career in finance, he enrolled in the doctoral program in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania to study issues of race in America, earning his master’s degree in 2005 and his PhD with distinction in 2007.

Rose is a member of the board of trustees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the nation’s largest private supporter of academic biomedical research, having joined in 2009. He previously served on the board of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.


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    President , Bowdoin College