BRUNSWICK — Bowdoin College leaders named a Harvard University faculty member and former finance executive as the private college’s next president, citing Clayton Rose’s diverse background and commitment to liberal arts education as key factors in his selection.

Rose, 56, will become just the 15th president in Bowdoin’s 221-year history when he replaces outgoing president Barry Mills on July 1. Bowdoin’s board of trustees announced Rose’s selection Monday in Brunswick, following an eight-month search and unanimous recommendations from both the search committee and the board.

Currently a faculty member at the Harvard Business School, Rose said he was drawn to Bowdoin and to Brunswick by the college’s commitment to liberal arts education but also by the college community’s commitment to “giving back to society.”

Addressing a crowd of several hundred students, faculty and alumni gathered at the student union Monday afternoon, Rose said he was thrilled and humbled to be in Brunswick before adding that “after my family, Bowdoin will get everything that I have to offer.”

At a time when some critics have questioned the value of a liberal arts college education in an increasingly high-tech and high-skilled workforce, Rose told the crowd that he regards the liberal arts as “creating more engaged and informed citizens, which I would suggest in today’s world is more important than ever before.”

“The liberal arts education in Brunswick and the broader liberal arts experience – intellectual, athletic, aesthetic, cultural, social service, the whole gamut – is among the finest in the country, and it is informed by a set of values that matter, that mean something, that are real here,” Rose said. “It is created and nurtured by an amazing community.”


Deborah Jensen Barker, chairwoman of the Bowdoin board of trustees, choked up Monday afternoon as she was formally introducing Rose to the audience. Barker described Rose as “a collaborative leader” and a thoughtful listener who would be “willing and able to tackle the tough stuff.”

“He impressed us with his passion for the liberal arts early on,” Barker said. “He values our great history and our deep roots in the state of Maine. He has the highest regard for our outstanding faculty, our staff and for our students, who could go to any college in the country but choose to go here because it is Bowdoin.”

Rose will succeed a college president, Mills, who is a well-known and popular figure on the campus of roughly 1,800 undergraduates. Bowdoin’s president for the past 14 years, Mills has earned praise for his focus on diversity, his defense of the liberal arts, his efforts to boost financial aid for students and his fundraising skills.


Bowdoin is a highly competitive college – receiving nearly 7,000 applications for 500 slots – but also costly to attend, with the total for tuition, room and board currently just shy of $60,000 a year. But Bowdoin, which does not consider financial need when admitting students, offers need-based aid to roughly 45 percent of the student body, with an average grant of nearly $40,000 a year.

In 2013, Bowdoin’s endowment surpassed the $1 billion mark and ranked 81st in the country – out of nearly 850 institutions – in terms of the size of its endowment, according to a report by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The vast majority of schools above Bowdoin on the list were much larger institutions.


Today’s college presidents are often expected to be the fundraiser-in-chief for their campuses in addition to their other responsibilities. And although it was not mentioned during Monday’s event, Rose’s professional history could help him in that respect.

A graduate of the University of Chicago both for his bachelor’s degree and his MBA, Rose spent roughly 20 years in finance, including as vice chairman and chief operating officer at the investment bank J.P. Morgan in New York.

But Rose stepped away from the world of finance in 2001 in order to pursue a doctorate in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

He has held a faculty position at Harvard Business School since 2007, teaching management, ethics, leadership and managerial values, among other issues. Rose also focused on administrative issues at Harvard, working on the school’s honor code, improving the experience for women faculty members and students, and community service.

“Clearly, his integrity and intellect and humility struck the members of the search committee,” James Staley, chairman of the search group, said in an interview before the formal announcement. “He has a wonderfully diverse background. He has done great things in finance and done great things in the academy” of higher education.



Rose noted in a meeting with reporters that he and his wife, Julianne, own a house in York and would occasionally make trips to Brunswick. He said he believes the college and the town generally have a strong and healthy relationship, and he indicated that he would work with trustees, Mills and others to begin reaching out to town officials before starting his new job in July.

“There is a remarkable community here, broadly defined: faculty, students, staff, alumni, the community of Brunswick,” Rose said in an interview. “Each is dedicated and devoted in their own ways to Bowdoin. And that creates something where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There is something bigger about Bowdoin.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

Twitter: grahamgillian

Comments are no longer available on this story