Writer, scholar, and college professor John Halperin '63 has always felt strongly about the connection between higher education and contemporary issues. He has continually challenged Bowdoin to make a liberal arts education relevant to, and engaged with, the changing world.
Not long after his Bowdoin commencement, John wrote to President Coles, promising that his activity with the College would not cease with graduation. "I have always felt that indifference is the most damaging criticism possible," he wrote, committing to being an involved alumnus as a way of paying back "an excellent education and four deeply happy years." "In short," he said, "you can count on me."
John's commitment to keeping a high-quality liberal arts education relevant and affordable motivated him to provide for Bowdoin in his estate plans. Through a bequest in his will, retirement account beneficiary designations, and charitable gift annuities, John plans to establish an endowed scholarship fund as well as provide unrestricted funds for Bowdoin's operations. In 2012 he also established a lectureship fund which supports bringing published writers in all genres to the College every year.
"Nothing is more important in this world of ours than making sure that everyone who wants one should have a college education, whether he or she can afford it or not," John says. "Nothing is sadder than talent wasted or unfulfilled." John's generous gifts will ensure that Bowdoin's doors remain open for future students.
John, a two-time Guggenheim Fellow, two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, and one of a select group of Americans elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in England, has made a life's work of helping students find connections between the history and literature of the 19th and 20th centuries and the contemporary world around them. In 1990, he received the Distinguished Educator Award from Bowdoin in recognition of his contributions at several universities, including Vanderbilt, where he was for 24 years Centennial Professor of English. He has published eight books. John lives in La Jolla, California, where as Research Professor of English at Claremont Graduate University in Los Angeles, he holds weekly seminars for Ph.D. students.