Richmond’s speech was titled “Liberal Arts and Allied Hearts: The Power of Interdisciplinarity”, in which he spoke of embracing the liberal arts and coming to terms with the idea that even as a student of English and dancehe would still have to take math lessons. “But class after class, semester after year, I realized that the true nature of liberal arts is actually really cool,” Richmond said. “Not only does a diverse education open us up to academic growth and excellence, it reveals just as much, if not more, about the world beyond.”
Richmond, who is a Mellon Mays undergraduate scholar, recalled a startling discovery in one of his dance classes: he learned that the dance form known as “contact improvisation” was inspired by laws of physics. “No, really,” he said. “Creators Steve Paxton and Nancy Stark Smith studied Newton’s third law of gravity and momentum to master their technique. I thought I had chosen the major furthest from math, but there I was, embracing the liberal arts experience. This, he explained, led him to realize that “collaboration is everywhere, and the further apart the discipline, the further the union takes us”.
He went on to say, “What we learn is what we are. And that is to say, to have interdisciplinary academic activities is to live an interdisciplinary life. This, he added, “makes us both better students and better people.”
Ceremonial music was provided by Brian Liu ’25 on piano, who opened the proceedings with Frédéric Chopin’s “Andante Spianato” ((1810–1849). After the alma mater’s song, “Raise Songs to Bowdoin”, Liu performed the music recession, the “Grande Polonaise Brillante”, also by Chopin.
Bowdoin began recognizing James Bowdoin Scholars in 1941 to honor undergraduate students who have distinguished themselves through excellence in scholarship and to commemorate the Honorable James Bowdoin III (1752–1811), the College’s first patron. James Bowdoin III – who requested that the institution be named after his father – was a farmer, art and book collector and diplomat who served as Minister Plenipotentiary to Thomas Jefferson in Spain.
By faculty vote in 1997, this memorial day and scholarly honor was amended to recognize both Sarah and James Bowdoin, who were married from 1780 until his death in 1811. Like her husband, Sarah Bowdoin did many gifts to the College, including most of the Bowdoin Family Portraits, which were bequeathed to Bowdoin College on his death.