Student Contributes Lead Gift of $500,000 to Schooner Bowdoin Fundraising Campaign from Family Foundation

Posted on: May 12, 2015

CASTINE, Maine—Dr. William J. Brennan, president of Maine Maritime Academy, announced today that the Bowdoin Centennial Campaign—a $1.6-million-dollar fundraising campaign launched by the Academy in November of 2014—received a lead gift of $500,000 from the Herman D. Pollock Family Foundation. The gift was initiated by Jeffrey Pollock of Houston, Texas, a master’s degree candidate in the Global Logistics and Maritime Management program.

“A gift of this magnitude from a student is a first for Maine Maritime Academy, and we’re immensely grateful, and proud,” said President Brennan.

The Herman D. Pollock Family Foundation, of which Jeffrey Pollock, his brother Russell Pollock, and their mother Lois Geyer are Trustees, was established to fulfill Herman’s wish to gift some of his wealth to a charity of the family’s choosing. Herman was Jeff and Russell’s great uncle, and he died when the brothers were young, but they remember going with their father, Gary, to bring a check from Herman’s estate to the Salvation Army around Christmas time. “It was fun to give money away,” remembered Jeff. The brothers and their mother inherited the responsibility of gifting final assets from Herman’s estate when Gary died. The family set up the foundation to fund maritime initiatives, and the gift to MMA will be the final gift to be disbursed from the foundation, which will be closed later this year.

“We’ve all been sailors our whole lives,” said Jeff Pollock. “Given Bowdoin’s legacy, I wanted to help, and to see this classic wooden sailing ship keep making history.”

The schooner Bowdoin was launched in 1921 as a specially designed Arctic exploration vessel for Donald B. MacMillan. Bowdoin was acquired by Maine Maritime Academy in the late 1980s and soon after was designated a National Historic Landmark and the Official Vessel of the State of Maine. The ship has made 28 trips above the Arctic Circle; 25 under the command of MacMillan and three captained by Academy faculty and staff. Students in MMA’s Vessel Operations and Technology (VOT), Small Vessel Operations (SVO), and other programs navigate and maintain the 88-foot tall ship as part of their at-sea training. Maine Maritime Academy is the only college in the United States with a dedicated sail training program that leads to a U.S. Coast Guard license as mate on an auxiliary sail vessel.

“The purpose of the Bowdoin Centennial Campaign is to celebrate the Bowdoin in excellent condition on her 100th birthday in 2021, and to keep her exploring, sailing and training for another 100 years,” said Campaign Director, Kay Hightower of Castine. “To get there, we will fund the replacement of the ship’s deck (along with other repairs that will become evident once the old deck is removed), which will cost approximately $600,000; and we will strengthen the ship’s endowment by $1,000,000 in order to protect and preserve her in perpetuity. We are well underway, and we have an outstanding group of people helping with the campaign.”

The Bowdoin Centennial Campaign Cabinet includes: Co-Chair Capt. G. Andy Chase, Co-Chair Alexander Watson, Fred Atkins, Capt. Bill Cowan, Capt. Cate Cronin, Capt. Dave Fenderson, Lawrence Kaplan, Matthew P. Murphy, Capt. Alec Schoettle, Capt. John Worth, and Capt. Heather Stone. Honorary Cabinet Members include (to date): former Maine Governor Kenneth Curtis, Dr. Pete Rand, Phineas Sprague Jr., Dr. Ed Morse, and Gordon Bok. For more information about the Bowdoin Centennial Campaign, please contact Kay Hightower at 207-326-8932 or

Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering 18 degree programs in engineering, management, science, and transportation. The college serves approximately 950 undergraduate and graduate students in career-oriented programs of study. Maine Maritime Academy was ranked the #1 Best Public College on Money magazine’s Best Colleges list published in August of 2014. The college’s persistence, retention and graduation rates are well above national averages, and the job placement rate is in excess of 90 percent within 90 days of graduation. For more information, visit