At Bowdoin, as a residential community that is appropriately self-critical, we often lament the “Bowdoin bubble” and the perception of a dominant culture or political persuasion on campus. And yet, you haven’t really seen anything yet as you leave Bowdoin and many of you will find yourselves in self-selected and self-reinforcing communities of like-minded people. You all may be surprised to learn that Bowdoin is truly a place of diversity in the broadest sense as compared to the communities you may choose to live in. You will be well served if you remember your education at Bowdoin ”” the liberal arts education. And, please remember the art of the “perhaps.” James Freedman, the former president of Dartmouth, writes, “that is why a liberal education seeks to impress upon students that one of the most important words in the English language is ‘perhaps,’ and that we would all do better if we prefaced our most emphatic statements with the modest qualifier. Liberal education teaches the importance of tempering profound convictions with a measure of tolerance and a judicious sense of humility.” These are lessons well learned at Bowdoin and are lessons, that perhaps, you will remember as you leave the relative “safeness” of this learning and living community.
And I remind you of the most underrated component of leadership: a sense of humor. A reminder to us all that as we seek to lead through serious issues and problems, that we leave room in our sense of ourselves not to take ourselves too seriously; a sense of perspective and irony is essential. Dwight Eisenhower reminded us that ” a sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” And from T.S. Eliot: “Humor is also a way of saying something serious.”