Acadia Senior College

ASC President's Column

Linda Dunn
January 2021
Dear ASC Members and Friends,
I am writing this message on New Year’s Day, in the middle of the 12 days of Christmas. I send warm holiday wishes to all of you. The year 2020, the 20th anniversary of Acadia Senior College, was the most challenging since our founding. I am grateful to Janice Kenyon, our extraordinary administrator, and to all the members of the Board, and to the members of the Curriculum and Events committees for their remarkable and effective pivot to online learning. And I am grateful to those members who signed up for courses and attended online events. Credit is due to our volunteer instructors who boldly engaged with unfamiliar technology. And finally, I want to thank those of you who generously supported our annual appeal. Bravo!
As we move into 2021 I hope that we will finally be able to celebrate our anniversary in person. Until then, I want to share some thoughts about our former presidents. You have already had the opportunity to learn about the founding of ASC from the Bangor Daily News article from 2000. And you have learned about the subsequent history of ASC from the excellent history written by Bill Dohmen. Each of these articles have been featured in earlier newsletters.
Our founder, Jim Clunan, was the first president (2000-2008) who presided over and guided the nascent college for the first several years. Jim had first learned about senior colleges while staying in Portland, where he attended classes and taught in the Portland senior college. He brought the idea back to MDI and, along with his wife Dorothy, sparked the founding of ASC. Jim and Dorothy are both former diplomats who retired to MDI after many years in the foreign service. Jim’s connection to the island is long standing. As a young man, he drove a horse trailer to MDI for an uncle. He has been coming back ever since. During his and Dorothy’s days in the foreign service, a “camp” in Northeast Harbor was their US home.
Jim’s successor as president, Bill Dohmen (2008-2010), has a unique professional backstory that equipped him to serve ASC in many key areas. He began his career as a PhD English teacher at the college level. He then transitioned to a distinguished career in banking. With these skills, Bill has taught many literature courses for ASC including one this winter term. And he has served as treasurer of the college. As is the tradition for former treasurers, he continues to serve on the Finance Committee. Bill led the transition to independent non-profit 501c3 status for ASC while treasurer under Jim Clunan. And he continues to serve on the Curriculum Committee as the creator of the schedule for each term. He is currently a member of the board. His penchant for hoarding files has been very useful in recovering many details of the early history and finances of the college. And his wit is legendary. His ties to MDI are more recent. His wife, Ellen, on her first trip to Acadia National Park, declared the island her sacred space which led to the Dohmens retiring here.
Bill’s successor as president (2010-2013) was another diplomat, Moorhead (Mike) Kennedy. Mike is one of the former Iran hostages who spent 444 days in captivity in the American embassy in Tehran. Mike’s ties to the island are even earlier than Jim’s. Mike visited the family summer home on MDI as a boy. He still owns the elaborate silver picnic set that his grandmother used for family picnics in Acadia.
Dan Poteet (2013-2016) also has early ties to MDI and particular skills that have served the college well. He was a sailing instructor at the Bar Harbor Yacht Club as a young man and chose to retire here with his wife Nancy after a long and distinguished career in academic leadership. He began his PhD career teaching medieval English literature. He brings a gravitas and deep record of academic decision making to the college which has helped to bolster our financial management and fund raising. He continues to serve the college on the Finance Committee and the Advancement Committee. He also is leading an ad hoc group working on racism.
The next president, Nat Fenton (2016-2019), was born off island but has lived on or near MDI since he was an infant. He is a man of stature in the community, having been a leading lawyer with an office in Bar Harbor. His legal knowledge has been helpful in developing the policies and procedures and insurance coverage for the college. Like Bill Dohmen, he possesses a wicked wit tempered with silliness. He has a passionate interest in history and civil rights which has led him to teach many popular, deeply researched courses for ASC, one this winter term. He is the reigning king of committees, serving on a total of 5: Advancement, Finance, Technology, Events, and Nominating. And he continues on the board.
The accretion of good governance, sound policy, and comity that these men have created has led to the college that you enjoy today. I am grateful for their contributions and good counsel. We owe them our thanks!
Happy New Year!