Bowdoin College graduates gather during the 2021 commencement. Image taken from YouTube

As Bowdoin College seniors don caps and gowns, visitor traffic flow is expected to increase in Brunswick.

In anticipation of this weekend’s commencement ceremony, the college expects approximately 3,500 guests to attend.

This year’s graduates represent 43 states, including Massachusetts with 64 students, New York with 57, California with 41, and Connecticut with 22 students. Only 38 of the students in the class are Maine residents. The other 52 graduating seniors hail from 29 countries and territories outside the U.S.

James Nall, general manager of Flight Level Aviation, the fixed base operator at Brunswick Executive Airport, estimates that there will be a 10% increase in traffic from private jets and small aircraft.

“We generally see an increase in traffic for the Bowdoin graduation with parents and family flying in,” Nall said. “There is no special preparation made, but we may have an extra member on duty to assist us.”

Brunswick Downtown Association Executive Director Debora King also anticipates a visitor increase.


“Bowdoin College has an incredible economic impact on downtown Brunswick and the entire community,” she said. “The graduation ceremony this weekend will bring in hundreds of folks to celebrate the students’ commencement. We hope that guests take advantage of everything downtown Brunswick offers like shopping and dining, and we want to congratulate all the students as well.”

Bowdoin will hold its 217th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, at 10 a.m., and confer Bachelor of Arts degrees on 450 graduates.

College President Clayton S. Rose will preside and award degrees on the terrace of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art on the Quad. In the event of very severe weather, commencement will be held in Sidney J. Watson Arena.

Bowdoin College will award honorary doctorates to contemporary artist Katherine Bradford, best-selling children’s author Raquel Jaramillo (R. J. Palacio), economist and president of Thomas College Laurie Gagnon Lachance, award-winning journalist and social activist Janet Langhart-Cohen and decorated marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Since 1806, Bowdoin has given the honor of speaking at commencement to graduating seniors. Until 1877 every graduate had a speaking part. The custom of selecting student commencement speakers through competition began in the 1880s.

Past speakers have included poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1825, House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed in 1860, Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary in 1877 and biologist and researcher Alfred Kinsey in 1916. This year’s commencement speakers are Ryan Britt and Journey Browne.


Other participants include Thomas College president and honorary degree recipient Laurie Gagnon Lachance, who will deliver greetings from the state of Maine and Eduardo Pazos Palma, assistant dean of student affairs for inclusion and diversity and director of multicultural student life, who will deliver the invocation, and class president Carlos Campos.

Dean of Academic Affairs Jennifer Scanlon expressed her pride for the graduating students.

“It sounds trite to say that our students have learned lessons of perseverance and strength by experiencing college life and a pandemic simultaneously,” she said. “But they have, and we admire and respect them for their efforts. We also empathize with them and, most importantly, this week, celebrate them,”

Kate Stern, Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion & Diversity and Director of the Center for Sexuality, Women & Gender, echoed Scanlon’s sentiments.

“This week, I have enjoyed seeing so many of our seniors,” she said.  “They have been carrying so much during the pandemic, being where they can take some of the resiliency they have built up during the last few years as they get ready for their next adventures.”

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