Bowdoin College

Major: English

Fraternity: Alpha Delta Phi

Influential Bowdoin Faculty/Staff: Doug McGee, Larry Hall, Franklin Burroughs, Chuck Huntington, John Donovan, Charlie Butt


Everything I enjoy in life today can be traced back to my four years at Bowdoin. Some come from straight line connections; some from life’s left turns that eventually bring us back to where we started.

In the fall of 1969, I had my heart set on going to Dartmouth until one day Dick Moll showed up at my small private school in Pittsburgh and changed my life forever. I went home that afternoon and told my parents, “I’m going to Bowdoin.” It was the only school to which I applied, and I have never regretted that decision.

Had I not gone to Bowdoin and fatefully elected to take Chuck Huntington’s ornithology course during my first semester I would never have become life-long friends with Sam and Sally Butcher, John and Cynthia Howland, and their families.

Had I not gone to Bowdoin I would never have taken Doug McGee’s course Literature as Philosophy which redirected my life and saved me from my parent’s divorce.

Had I not gone to Bowdoin I would never have had Louis Coxe as my thesis advisor who encouraged me to attend Trinity College, Dublin for graduate school. Had I not gone to Bowdoin and Trinity the publisher of Aperture would have never hired me as managing editor for my first job.

Had I not gone to Bowdoin and worked at Aperture I would never have met the mentors and friends, some now gone, who have remained in my life to this day.

Had I not gone to Bowdoin I would not have met the woman who became my wife and together have the three wonderful sons we have today, David, Sam, and Adam—two of whom chose to go to Bowdoin, too.

Then a few left turns: an MBA at New York University, a career in global advertising management, life in New York with sojourns in Barcelona, Singapore, and Melbourne, Australia where our youngest son Adam was born.

Divorce. A move to San Francisco where, having always been a competitive pool swimmer, I took up open water swimming every day in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay—and swam  solo the eleven-mile width of Lake Tahoe for my 65th birthday.

In San Francisco I had the lucky break to lose a job and gain a new career. Finding myself with time and a salary I met a career counselor who asked, “What have you always wanted to do but have never done?” I replied, “Teach.” I had set out from Bowdoin to be a college English professor, but then those left turns intervened. Now I had the opportunity—not English, but graduate level business school. Through the kind help of a stranger (The career counselor had told me to tell everyone I met what my goal was, and someone would help me. Someone did.) I began teaching at Stanford in 2010 and the rest is history.

In January 2020 I moved back East to Boston, just in time for the city and world to shut down, completing the full circle return to New England. Today I teach business at Northeastern University, Hult International Business School, and am responsible for marketing at The Fletcher School at Tufts. Life (work!) is full.

I swim at Walden Pond and in Boston Harbor, spend weekends with friends in Germantown, New York on the Hudson River, and son Sam and family in the Berkshires. I visit Maine and Bowdoin often. Retirement is a concept I don’t understand and am lucky to have found this new career–and life—fulfillment, truly the fulfillment of The Offer of the College.

I am forever grateful to Bowdoin College.


Happiness is a shallow boat in a very rough ocean.

Happiness is something that descends upon you; it comes upon you suddenly. And then you should be grateful for it because there’s plenty of suffering and if you happen to be happy, well wonderful. Enjoy it.  Be grateful for it and maybe try to meditate on the reasons that it manifested itself. It can come as a mystery.

You don’t necessarily know when you’re going to be happy. Something surprising happens, and delights you. And you can analyze that. You can think I’m doing something right; I’m in the right place, right now. Maybe I can hang on to that.  Maybe I can learn from that.

You should be pursuing who you could be.

I’m thinking about these words, not mine but Jordan Peterson’s, early this morning, the first morning the clocks rolled back to end daylight savings time. Light brightened the sky an hour earlier only foretelling the earlier darkness too soon to come.

Happiness. Where to find it in a world descending into moral failure, climate failure, political failure? Or better to use the past tense—we’re there already. The news on NPR is unrelentingly depressing: Russia’s war in Ukraine, with unspeakable atrocities; Trump and his great lie—and all those Republicans who carry his torch of conspiracy, racism, mendacity; the abuses of both the far right and far left; the planet heating, melting, disappearing; guns everywhere, killing at random. This listing could fill a dictionary.

Driving to work I switch the station to Cape and Islands NPR and listen to the bird report from Martha’s Vineyard: a rare sighting of an infrequent visitor no doubt lost, too, in this confusing world.

I change the station again to WCRB, Boston’s classical music station and listen to a Handel organ concerto. Not knowing doesn’t make the knowledge go away but at least it’s kept at bay for the remainder of my twenty-minute drive to the Fenway to teach my 8:00am class at Northeastern.

Happiness.  Am I happy?

In the scheme of things, setting the world aside, I have many reasons to be happy. That’s the key: setting the world aside. Perhaps that’s selfish, and in truth impossible most of the time. To live on the court and not in the stands means the world is always with us. We can only steal moments—intimate moments—from the ever-present realities.

My boys give me the greatest happiness: the men they have become, their families, the lives they’re pursuing, their bonds with me and with each other.

My students if not a source of happiness are a wellspring of human connection, and contribution, that bring tremendous satisfaction.

I think about the relationships I’ve had and with the distance of time and blurred perspective find more gratitude than anguish. One gave me the sons I cherish; one gave me the deepest passion I ever experienced; one gave me the self-knowledge to know that complacency doesn’t work.

These women in my life have been enough.

‘Aren’t I enough for you?’ she asked.

‘No,’ he said. ‘You are enough for me, as far as woman is concerned. You are all women to me. But I wanted a man friend, as eternal as you and I are eternal.’

‘Why aren’t I enough?’ she said. ‘You are enough for me. I don’t want anybody else but you. Why isn’t it the same with you?’

‘Having you, I can live all my life without anybody else, any other sheer intimacy. But to make it complete, really happy, I wanted eternal union with a man, too: another kind of love,’ he said.

‘I don’t believe it,’ she said. ‘It’s an obstinacy, a theory, a perversity.’

‘Well—‘ he said.

‘You can’t have two kinds of love. Why should you!’

‘It seems as if I can’t,’ he said. ‘Yet I wanted it.’

‘You can’t have it, because it’s wrong, impossible,’ she said.

‘I don’t believe that,’ he answered.

I forever associate these last lines of Women in Love with the final scene in Ken Russell’s over-the-top film version with Alan Bates portraying Birkin—Bates so unlike Lawrence’s depiction—and so close to the visionary friend I’ve always longed for.

‘It seems as if I can’t,’ he said. ‘Yet I wanted it.’

The early daylight morning is turning into an unseasonably warm, even hot, November day. We blame it on climate change. Outside beckons but I have grading to do. I’m late and my students need their progress reports. If I’m quick and industrious I might be able to fit a last of the season swim in Walden Pond into the afternoon’s waning sunlight.

It’s a goal worth pursuing. Another kind of happiness.