There were 450 degrees conferred Saturday at Bowdoin College. Michele Stapleton via Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College conferred 450 degrees during its 217th Commencement on Saturday.

Bowdoin College President Clayton S. Rose took a moment to remember those who died during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to take stock of the nation’s gun violence and racial injustice crises.

“On the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, we remember those that have been the target of death and violence because of their identities, most recently in Buffalo two weeks ago,” Rose said, referring to the 2020 murder of a black man by a white police officer and the mass shooting in a grocery store in a predominantly Black part of Buffalo, New York. “Our hearts again break for the families and loved ones of the 19 children and two teachers who were murdered on Tuesday in Texas.”

“Anything that I might do or ask you to do, a moment of silence or somber reflection about each horrible act would not be enough,” Rose said. “The change needed and the work required from us is for another day. We turn now as we should even at this moment to celebrate.”

Rose, who steps down as president in 2023, also marked a milestone in Bowdoin history that the college has been celebrating over the past year:  “In the spring of 1971, transfer student Susan Jacobsen became the first woman to graduate from Bowdoin College. That fall — the fall of 1971 — 147 women enrolled here as our first official coeducational class.”

Five women were conferred honorary degrees at this year’s ceremony in recognition of the 50th anniversary of women at Bowdoin: 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.

Bowdoin College President Clayton Rose, left. Michele Stapleton via Bowdoin College

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