GREGG: Liberal arts now more valuable than ever

Barry Mills
Brunswick, ME

Education Business


Barry Mills, PhD
Bowdoin College
Barry Mills is President of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He can speak about the following topics: higher education, liberal arts, college tuition, curriculum reform.
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Contact Information:
Brunswick, ME 04011
United States
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Barry Mills was inaugurated as Bowdoin's 14th president in October 2001 as the College was beginning its 200th academic year.

During his tenure as president, Mills has underscored the primacy of Bowdoin’s academic program and has worked with the faculty to redefine a liberal arts education for the twenty-first century. Together with former Dean for Academic Affairs Craig McEwen, Mills led the first major curriculum reform at Bowdoin since the early 1980s. The College has also successfully recommitted itself to the goal of expanding ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic diversity among students and employees. Mills has worked to increase national visibility for Bowdoin and also initiated a comprehensive campus master planning study to guide future development on the campus. Mills has also worked to strengthen and increase support for the arts at the College, completing a major expansion and renovation of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and a conversion of the Curtis Pool building into the Studzinski Recital Hall and 280-seat Kanbar Auditorium. Student residential life has also been improved through the construction of new residence halls and the renovation of existing residential facilities, a new center for fitness, health, and wellness (to open in August 2009), and the new Watson Ice Arena (to open in January 2009). In October 2006, Mills announced “The Bowdoin Campaign,” an effort to raise $250 million by June 2009 to enhance Bowdoin’s academic program by adding faculty and by focusing resources on the faculty/student experience, faculty scholarship, and the intellectual life of the College. Mills has made improved access to Bowdoin a campaign priority by devoting nearly one-third of the funds raised to student financial aid. In January 2008, he announced that Bowdoin would replace student loans with grants for all students beginning in September 2008. Mills has also emphasized sustainability efforts at the College through the construction of “green” facilities and other conservation and sustainability efforts.

President Mills, who holds a doctorate in biology as well as a law degree, previously served as the deputy presiding partner of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City, one of the nation's preeminent international law firms. He joined the firm in 1979 and became a partner in 1986. His work at Debevoise concentrated on corporate law, real estate and corporate finance.

Born in Providence, RI, President Mills graduated in 1968 from Pilgrim High School in Warwick, RI. A Dean's List student at Bowdoin, Mills graduated cum laude in 1972 with a double major in biochemistry and government. He earned his doctorate in biology in 1976 at Syracuse University. He earned his law degree at the Columbia University School of Law in 1979, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

President Mills is married to Karen G. Mills, the 23rd Administrator of Small Business Administration (SBA) in Washington, DC. Her nomination by President Barak Obama was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent on April 3, 2009.  Since 1983 she has been an active leader in managing and growing small businesses and in public policy around innovation and job creation. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1975 with a degree in economics and earned her MBA at the Harvard Business School in 1977. President and Karen Mills have three sons.

Barry Mills was a member of the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees from 1994 until 2000. He follows Samuel Harris (1867-71), Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1871-83), Kenneth C.M. Sills (1918-52), and Roger Howell, Jr. (1969-78) as the fifth alumnus of the College to serve as president.

Story Pitch

A college education does not have to break the bank
Bowdoin College President Barry Mills has come up with a way for students to invest in a four year degree without going deep into debt.
Recent Publications/Appearances


February 25, 2013 "Endowment must be used for education, not politicization"

July 17, 2012 Evansville Courier & Press "GREGG: Liberal arts now more valuable than ever"

October 10, 2011 Inside Higher Ed "Starting to Worry"

March 31st Bowdion Daily Sun "Barry Mills: Demonstrating Community"

Dec 13, 2010 The Times Record "Feds OK college's BNAS land bid"



February 26, 2013 The Bowdoin Daily Sun "The Challenges of Affordability"


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