Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / archives / 3.8 Collection Guide

Senior Center Program: Records, 1957-1979, n.d.

9.5 linear feet.

Catalog Number: 3.8

Series List:


Agency History / Biographical Note:
The Senior Center program was inaugurated by President James Stacy Coles in October 1964. An innovation in higher education, the Center and its programs grew out of President Kenneth Charles Morton Sills' desire to build a dormitory for seniors. He believed that having the seniors live together would "emphasize college and class rather than fraternity." The program was originally designed to expose seniors to disciplines outside their major fields. It also gave faculty the opportunity to research particular fields of interest to them. The new academic programs offered at the Senior Center differed a great deal from those found elsewhere in higher education, which, at the time, was still quite formal. As well as the academic benefits, the Senior Center was designed to serve a social function. By bringing the seniors together for meals, lectures and special programs, it was believed that upon graduation they would leave the College as a cohesive group.

From 1964 to 1971 the program was directed by William B. Whiteside. He was succeeded by James E. Ward III who directed the program until 1976. The final director was Gabriel J. Brogyanyi who served until 1979. The director and his family resided in an adjacent building (later Chamberlain Hall), and visiting scholars were given suites in the Center. Although the experiment was successful in the 1960's, it became apparent that with the trend towards a more open curriculum in the 1970's and the growth in the size of the College, it was no longer favorable to restrict the program to seniors. Following the program's end in 1979, many aspects were integrated into the curriculum. The Senior Center building was re-dedicated as Coles Tower in 1980, with the Admissions and Student Aid offices occupying Chamberlain Hall.

Scope and Content:
Records of the Senior Center, its concept, implementation and functioning. Includes records of the subcommittee that designed the curriculum for the program, information on the planning and construction of the Center, and office files on lecture series and seminar offerings. There are also minutes and records of the Senior Center Council and a progress report on the Center by William B. Whiteside, funded by the Sloan Foundation. Audio recordings of selected lectures and events are preserved in the College Archives Audio Visual Collection.

Finding Aid/Index:

Cite as: Senior Center Program: Records, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

Access Restrictions: Some material restricted. Consult finding aid for specific information.

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives · Staff · Hours
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